Pepie: The Lake Monster of the Mississippi River

Posted by: John Kirk on June 14th, 2014

For a few years I’ve been examining news reports about a purported cryptid in Lake Pepin, Minnesota. Lake Pepin is actually part of the Mississippi river. Saw this article yesterday and it gets my goat when a cryptid is classed as paranormal. They are not. They are biological, end of story. Still, the article is not bad and I thought you all might like to read it:

Paranormal researcher explores legend of Pepie

After 20 years as a paranormal researcher and author, Chad Lewis still considers himself a skeptic.

The Eau Claire native has investigated hundreds of legends and written 17 books about gruesome hauntings, mysterious creatures and encounters with the unknown and the bizarre.

“I always go into these stories and legends not knowing what to believe,” he said. “I need to look at the evidence.”

An academic with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology, Lewis over the years has adopted a 50-50 stance when attempting to explain the unexplainable: Half the time the stories are true, half the time they’re just stories.

But when it comes to the legend of the lake monster lurking in the depths of Lake Pepin, he’s a believer.

For those unfamiliar, Lake Pepin is supposedly home to a giant beast, affectionately known as Pepie, which resembles

a serpent or a long-necked swimming reptile, depending on who you ask. Sightings date back to the 1600s, said Lewis, who scoured old newspapers and historical archives for evidence of the creature and chronicled his research in a book, “Pepie: The Lake Monster of the Mississippi River.”

Lewis found evidence of sightings through the 1800s and 1900s describing a creature “between the size of an elephant and a rhinoceros” with smooth gray skin and the ability to snatch birds in midair. He interviewed locals who provided numerous convincing, eyewitness accounts of the beast.

“I left with more questions than answers,” Lewis said.

He and his crew went on two multi-day expeditions in 2010 and 2013 to search for the monster, using sonar imaging to scan the lake’s depths. They even jumped in the water and used themselves as bait.

But Pepie must be a shy vegetarian, because the expeditions found no evidence of the monster. Still, Lewis believes that the centuries of sightings go beyond hoax-mongering and that the river’s vast, murky depths could one day provide an answer to the mystery of Lake Pepin.

“Some authors might be a bit disappointed by that, but for me, it’s fascinating that this legend continues on,” Lewis said. “It may never be solved. But hopefully, 20 years from now, people will still take their families out on the Mississippi and say, ‘What if?’”

Read the rest of the article here.


Pepie: The Lake Monster of the Mississippi River is available on

John Kirk About John Kirk
One of the founders of the BCSCC, John Kirk has enjoyed a varied and exciting career path. Both a print and broadcast journalist, John Kirk has in recent years been at the forefront of much of the BCSCC’s expeditions, investigations and publishing. John has been particularly interested in the phenomenon of unknown aquatic cryptids around the world and is the author of In the Domain of the Lake Monsters (Key Porter Books, 1998). In addition to his interest in freshwater cryptids, John has been keenly interested in investigating the possible existence of sasquatch and other bipedal hominids of the world, and in particular, the Yeren of China. John is also chairman of the Crypto Safari organization, which specializes in sending teams of investigators to remote parts of the world to search for animals as yet unidentified by science. John travelled with a Crypto Safari team to Cameroon and northern Republic of Congo to interview witnesses among the Baka pygmies and Bantu bushmen who have sighted a large unknown animal that bears more than a superficial resemblance to a dinosaur. Since 1996, John Kirk has been editor and publisher of the BCSCC Quarterly which is the flagship publication of the BCSCC. In demand at conferences, seminars, lectures and on television and radio programs, John has spoken all over North America and has appeared in programs on NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, TLC, Discovery, CBC, CTV and the BBC. In his personal life John spends much time studying the histories of Scottish Clans and is himself the president of the Clan Kirk Society. John is also an avid soccer enthusiast and player.

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