Category Archives: Bear Lake Monster

You know Nessie and Cressie, and Tarpie and Tessie, Ooly and Muckie, and Kipsy and Bessie. But do you recall the most famous monster of all?

Let’s face it. Most lake monsters have memorable nicknames—perhaps the most famous being the Lock Ness monster, “Nessie” (Scotland).

But hey, Nessie is not alone when it comes to the catchy moniker. Playing off the Nessie name, many lake monsters were named similarly with names like “Bessie” of Lake Erie (Great Lakes); “Cressie” of Crescent Lake (Canada); and “Tessie” of Lake Tahoe (California).

What about the local Utah/Idaho monster of Bear Lake? The “Bear Lake Monster” is a recognized name,  but gets zero points for creativity. Yet in its defense, the Bear Lake creature is not alone. In fact, many lake monsters have taken the easy way out. For example, Lake Van is known for the “Lake Van Monster,” and Lake Utopia promotes—you guessed it—the “Lake Utopia Monster.” Easy to remember? Yes. Award-winning names? No.

Not to worry folks. Just like “Rudolph” was the one reindeer that needed a special song to become a household name, the Bear Lake Monster has a name too. Problem is, most people don’t know it.

To make the point, the Deseret News printed an article in 2003 entitled, “Bear Lake Monster gets no respect.” In it, the newspaper points out that few people know the Bear Lake Monster has another more personal name.

So what is it? Why, it’s “Isabella!” Really, it’s true. The Deseret News reported the naming of the monster this way:

During Garden City’s annual Raspberry Days festival in 1996, chairwoman Anne Rex organized a contest wherein local elementary schoolchildren vied to name the monster.

“I wanted to see what kind of feeling people in the community had about her—or him,” she said. (Most people refer to the monster as a she.) “Every one of the names were happy names—there was never anything scary.”

Out of 150 names submitted, including such wildly imaginative monikers as “Fred,” the judges chose the name submitted by 8-year-old Amanda Price: “Isabella.”

There you have it. Isabella it is. Although slow to gain traction, it seems the name has stuck.

For those still wondering about the names listed in the headline of this post, they are all real lake monster names. “Tarpie” comes from Lake Tarpon (Florida); Ooly hails from Lake Oologah (Oklahoma); “Muckie” lives in Lakes of Killarney (Ireland); and “Kipsy” calls the Hudson River home (New York).

So although Isabella is not known for a shiny nose, perhaps the other monsters will agree: “Isabella the Bear Lake Monster, you’ll go down in history!”

Birth of a monster.

Frankenstein is a monster.

He’s a monster created in a book by Mary Shelley about bringing the dead to life through a gruesome experiment (first published in London, 1818 and France, 1823).

“But is Frankenstein real?” you might ask.

Perhaps you should ask one of a thousand kids trick-or-treating this year who chooses to masquerade as the Frankenstein monster. Or maybe you should measure the level of fright and curiosity generated by the book, the classic movie and numerous spin-offs. You’d have to conclude that whether he ever actually existed in the flesh, he is certainly real—and therefore exists.

About the same time period, across the wild west of North America, another monster story was being told near Bear Lake, on what is now the Utah-Idaho border.

The first record of whites seeing the lake is from 1818 when French-Canadian trappers working for the North West Company followed the Bear River upstream to the valley. Later, between 1825 and 1840, many mountain men, including Jedediah Smith and Jim Bridger, met on the south shore with Native Americans to swap goods and stories. One story that was told was about the legendary lake monster. (Source: Wikipedia)

This is the first known telling of stories about a lake monster in Bear Lake. Of course, the now infamous Bear Lake Monster would produce many more stories in the years to come. The most notable stories were made famous by settler Joseph C. Rich, the first published in 1868 in the Deseret News.

The Indians say there is a monster animal which lives in the Lake that has captured and carried away Indians while in the Lake swimming; but they say it has not been seen by them for many years, not since the buffalo inhabited the valley. They represent it as being of the serpent kind… (published 8-5-1868)

Like Frankenstein, this monster is alive and well today. Whether it actually swam through the depths of Bear Lake a century ago is irrelevant. Some descriptions have it at 40 feet in length, others at 200 feet. It has been reported to be both a brown or green color. The legs are described as just a few smaller legs to legs that covered its entire body. It’s been compared to a serpent, an alligator, a snake, and a walrus.

But it’s not how you picture the Bear Lake Monster, but the fact that you do that makes it exist. This blog is dedicated to telling the stories of the Bear Lake Monster and other fascinating stories surrounding Bear Lake.

“Very large animal…not less than 90 feet in length.”

“…they were attracted by a “peculiar motion or wave in the water” about three miles away. The lake surface was not rough but showed the effects of a light wind, and one in the party claimed he distinctly saw the sides of a “very large animal” judged to be not less than 90 feet in length.”

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