Monster Attack: 1892

Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 29th, 2008

The Daily Picayune of New Orleans, Louisiana, for December 4, 1892, published the following story, perhaps mistitled, “An Amphibious Monster.”

A most extraordinary story comes from Boise City, Idaho, which is said to be well authenticated.

It says that while three travelers were at the upper end of Lake Chelan recently one of them went into the water to bathe. He was seized by the foot by a marine [sic] monster and was being pulled into deep water, when his screams attracted the attention of his companions, who came to his rescue. They pulled him ashore, the monster hanging to his foot.

It had legs and body like an alligator and the head and eyes of a serpent. Between its fore and hind legs were large ribbed wings.

The men tried hard to tear the monster from the foot of their companion, and finally tried fire, which had the effect of causing the animal to rise suddenly into the air, taking its victim along, and finally landing in the lake, where both disappeared from sight.

Thanks for this historical item from Jerome Clark.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

10 Responses to “Monster Attack: 1892”

  1. dogu4 responds:

    Lake Chelan? Really? You’d think that by 1892 the Seattle press would have covered that too, even though I can see from a geographic point of view it is more a part of the intermountain region…and in fact Lake Chelan is one of those deep cold post glacial lakes with at least a tenuous connection to the sea, though by the time modern humans, and europeans in particular, had arrived to experience it, the lake’s context had changed to the Holocene, unlike its previous couple of million years of being influenced by the neogene ice age. So? Some kind of giant salamander with special adaptations that appear to be wings but could have been oxygen exchange organs? But then, you know how old newspapers would sink to almost anykind of crazy story to increase distribution and profits…so unlike our modern media…ha!

  2. Point Radix responds:

    Very interesting story; were there any similar reports in the locality before or after 1892? It would also be instructive to know whether there were any other witnesses (“said to be well authenticated”?). The problem in this scenario – three travelers left, but only two returned, with the only explanation for their friends disappearance being a winged alligator/serpent from the lake.

  3. coelacanth1938 responds:

    It sounds like some kind of snallygaster to me.

  4. Foxfier responds:

    dogu4- Chelan is a pain to get to THESE days.

    I grew up about two hours away, in Twisp.

    Lots of mountains between even the Methow and Chelan– between them and Seattle, there’s also a mountain range.

    Spokane would be more likely a place to look for corroboration.

  5. TaishaMcGee responds:

    Two things:

    1-Sounds to me like a murder happened! An old-timey, classic Washingtonian cryptid alibi. Like the giant turtle in Lake Wenatchee (I have truly seen it with my own eyes, and felt it with my own feet) that I blamed many of my misadventures on as a youngin. Far cry from murder, but still, out here in the Evergreen State, there are always plenty of people who will listen to your tale with an open mind.

    2-Although I tend to support the above theory, I have myself seen extremely over-sized salamanders, sucker-fish, and sturgeon in Lake Chelan. Any one of those things (when grossly over-grown) would seem like the monster mentioned above. Sturgeon are no wussy-fish, either. Scary and strong and deadly.

    Ok, one other thing: With the recent “pterodactyl” sighting in Wenatchee, can we rule out the possibility of this winged creature not being a marine serpent at all, but perhaps a Ropen, or, more regionally appropriate, a Thunderbird? It’s an honor to live in such an crypto-zoologically active state!

  6. ETxArtist responds:

    Hard to imagine the wingspan required to lift such weight from the water, which adds even more weight. Seems improbable to me.

  7. dogu4 responds:

    Foxfier: those are excellent points and I am aware that Chelan is off the beaten track even now. I was attempting to look at the situation from the perspective of the times in the early 1890s…Seattle was still a relatively undeveloped port on Puget Sound as it was still 6 years before it’s explosive growth due to the Klondike…andthat’s a good point about Spokane which by that time I think was on a rail line shipping freight, livestock and ore …but there was and had been quite a bit of mining going on in the mountains and Chelan seemed like it would have that affinity with Boise which was something of a mining capital. That said, miners did love tall tales.
    Also, as TaishaMcGee points out, big lake, big fish..sturgeon especially as Chealn would historically be connected to the Columbia.
    My thoughts, as typical, is that the unexplored country 100 years ago and more was being examined by those without the wherewithall to inform modern scientific inquiry and when the tales seem to be almost mythological we presume they were, but we don’t know and I think remanant vestigal populations of unusual,slow growing and sparse populations would have been exterpated easily if not altogether made extinct. It’s still a big country out there particularly in the west and modern survey techniques can and do miss the really cryptic in unexpected places. i don’t mean it as merely criticism of the modern methods, just as a recognition of the system’s inherent limitations.

  8. bigfootsdad responds:


    You said, “Hard to imagine the wingspan required to lift such weight from the water, which adds even more weight. Seems improbable to me.”

    However, when we consider the Bumble Bee and its ability to fly, this too should be impossible.

  9. dogu4 responds:

    Regarding the description of the “large ribbed wings” I suspect that some commetors are presuming that the word “wings” alludes to the idea of the creature’s ability to fly though air, but I suspect the wings could have been instead relating to some other process such as the “wings” on manta rays for “flying through water”, or wing like structures that could have been some kind of adaptation to thigmotrophism (living in crevices) or perhaps gas-exchange as would be the case with large salamanders and their exposed gill like structures.

  10. serpent_seeker responds:

    I agree i think this could be some sort of giant salamander.

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