The season of ghosts, hauntings, witches, and monsters is finally here. And speaking of monsters… did you know that for hundreds of years, there have been reports of a monster lurking right on the shores of Lake Erie?
Meet Bessie, the Lake Erie lake monster.
Not Just Loch Ness: Ohio Has a Sea Serpent, Too
We’re all familiar with the legend of the Loch Ness monster (also known as “Nessie”), the dinosaur-like monster that inhabits Loch Ness in Scotland.
But according to legend, Loch Ness isn’t the only lake in the world to have a water serpent swimming in its depths.
In fact, there are reports of lake monsters throughout all the United States – including our very own sea serpent named Bessie.
1892: Fishermen Spot Sea Serpent Near Oak Harbor
One of the oldest reported sightings of Lake Erie’s lake monster occurred right here in Ottawa County.
On May 21, 1892, the Cleveland Plain Dealer ran an article entitled “Lake Erie Sea Serpent: Said to Have Been Seen by Fishermen Near Oak Harbor.”
According to journalist James Renner, the report stated: “[The monster] was described to be about twenty-five feet long and about one and one-half feet in diameter through the largest part. Its head was large and flat. Above five feet from its head there appeared to be several large fins or slippers. Its color was black, mottled with brown spots….”
1898: Lake Monster Eggs Hatch
Is there just one lake monster after all? Or is Bessie just one of many?
According to another Cleveland Plain Dealer article from 1898, a hunter discovered four large eggs that he brought home. The eggs later hatched in his kitchen, revealing snakes that were between 2 1/2 to five feet long.
1909: Ohio Salt Company Sees “Wriggly Dragon, Grayish-Green and of Playful Disposition”
Less than 10 years later, workers at the Union Salt Company reported seeing a snakelike creature appear above the water for a moment before diving back down and swimming towards Euclid Beach in Cleveland.
1980s: Lake Monster is Named “Bessie” After Davis-Besse
Lake Erie’s lake monster wasn’t officially named until the 1980s, when the Port Clinton Beacon ran a contest to name the local sea serpent.
Originally, the winning name was “South Bay Besse” after Davis-Besse, which later just became “Bessie.”
1990: 35-Foot-Long Sea Serpent Spotted Near Marblehead
On September 28, 1990, The Daily Kent Stater reported another sighting of Bessie at East Harbor State Park in Marblehead.
A man named Harold Bricker stated that he and his family saw “a large creature moving in the water about 1,000 feet from their boat,” wrote reporter Mitch Weiss. “They described it as black, about 35 feet long, and with a snakelike head. It moved as fast as their boat.”
After the lake monster surfaced, it later disappeared under the water a few miles north of Cedar Point.
Does Bessie still haunt the waters of Lake Erie? Nobody truly knows. But one thing’s for sure: The next time we go out on a boat on Lake Erie, we’ll definitely watch out!
P.S. Want to learn more about other scary things that go bump in the night in Ottawa County – including a headless ghost rider and statues that come to life when it gets dark? Check out our list of hauntings in Ottawa County!
*Source: Renner, James. It Came from Ohio: True Tales of the Weird, Wild, and Unexplained. Gray & Company, 2012.