Mel has been going to town designing cryptids over on the Cryptid World Instagram. I’m supposed to keep up on the website by creating profiles for each, but I’ve been slacking. Thought maybe it was time to catch up a little. Here is one she created a few months ago.
The Bear Lake Monster
Bear Lake spans the Idaho/Utah border. And yes, those two states touch. I checked. Just in case anyone else found that hard to believe. When you live east of the Mississippi it feels like Idaho is way up north (I mean, it touches Canada, right)? And Utah has desert and part of the Grand Canyon in it. It touches New Mexico. Whatever. Geography can be weird.
Anyway, Bear Lake is 20 miles in length, 8 miles wide, and 208 feet deep. It’s often referred to as the “Caribbean of the Rockies.” Natural occurring calcium carbonate creates the intense aqua-blue color. Here are some images.
The Bear Lake Valley was first inhabited by Shoshone and Bannock tribes. In 1819, Donald McKenzie, an explorer with the North West Company, led an expedition out of Canada, down the Snake River, into Southern Idaho. When he reached the valley area, he named it for the abundance of black bears. Black Bear Lake was shortened to Bear lake and became a popular meeting place for many different groups of people. Between 1825 & 1840, such mountain men as Jedediah Smith, Jim Bridger, William Ashley and Tom Fitzgerald often met with Native Americans on the south end of the lake to trade. In 1840, Thomas L. “Peg Leg” Smith, set up a cattle business, trading post, and horse exchange to capitalize on business from pioneers roughing the Oregon Trail. The first group of permanent settlers came in 1863, a group of Mormons led by Charles C. Rich, for whom the county was named.
Stories of the Bear Lake monster began to surface around 1868 when Joseph C. Rich, son of the aforementioned, Charles, and a correspondent for the Desert News, recounted a Native American legend about an enormous alligator with red eyes, short legs, and dark green skin that would come ashore at times to feed on animals and sometimes humans. This along with a couple eye witness accounts spurred the ongoing legend.
Offering credibility to the tale, Mormon leader, Brigham Young, received a letter in May of 1874 from three of his council members, who wrote of their encounter with the creature not more than a hundred feet from shore. They offered a detailed description that intrigued Young. If this thing could be caught, it would bring considerable profit from circus magnate, P. T. Barnum. Brigham Young set out with Phineas Cook to capture the monster. The pair went to great lengths gathering rope, buoys, and hooks large enough to snag a sea monster. In the end, they came up empty handed but were successful in popularizing the cryptid. Not to mention they most likely turned a profit for the Mormon owned Desert News. You can read more about this topic here.
The most recent sighting of the Bear Lake Monster was in 2004 when a local of the Bear Lake Valley community told the Desert News that a dark green creature with red eyes lifted his boat out of the water. Fact or Fiction? No one can say. If cryptids such as Nessie, the Ogopoge, and Champ might exist, then why not a Bear Lake Monster, too?
For more creature designs, you can visit our cryptid and creature design page. All creatures are designed by Mel Cabre, the daughter half of our duo. If you liked this design you might especially like this one.
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- Bear River Heritage Area. http://bearriverheritage.com/regions/bear-lake-country/
- Carter, Robert D. “The meandrous monster migrates to Utah Lake.” The Daily Herald. Accessed June 20,2020. https://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/article_4adacc44-6721-541d-bca1-b7edca69069f.html
- Offut, Jason. 2019. Chasing American Monsters. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications.