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Beast of Bear Lake
Towards the beginning
This is one of the local legends that is a little harder to pin down when it started or how it became so famous. It’s thought that the legend began with Joseph C. Rich who was a local Latter Day Saints (LDS) colonizer in the area. The problem with him being the beginning of the legend is the reports that he pushed forward were second hand accounts, you know the ones, “A friend of a friend.” The legend grew from there and was picked up by the local Desert News that reported, “The Indians have a tradition concerning a strange, serpent-like creature inhabiting the waters of Bear Lake…. Now, it seems this water devil, as the Indians called it, has again made an appearance. A number of our white settlers declare they have seen it with their own eyes. This Bear Lake Monster, they now call it, is causing a great deal of excitement up here”
Since Mr. Rich was a prominent member of the LDS church they eventually took an interest and more members came to the area on teaching tours they made it a point to talk to locals and they could hardly find a person who didn’t believe in the creature because they had talked to someone who saw it or say they saw it themselves. For many years after the Deseret News continued to publish articles about the monster and the sightings that people had for many years. Many years after this all started Mr. Rich did admit to fabricating his stories.
There was a theory put forward that the creature had a tunnel that it traveled in that connected to the Great Salt Lake, Bear lake and other waterways because the creature wasn’t seen constantly. It’s an interesting theory because it it’s along the same lines of a theory put forward by Loch Ness Monster believers that is how Nessie travels. People tried to come up with different ways they could capture the creature.
As I mentioned earlier the LDS Church at one point became interested enough in the legend to take time out and do a little investigating of their own. Apparently, this interest went all the way to the top; Brigham young the president of the church decided to check out the claims for himself. Some people were worried that the creature was the devil so he felt it was his duty to check out the claims and disprove or prove them. Locals say he went so far as sending a large rope to Paris, Idaho to aid in the capture of the creature but I must report that I could find no evidence of this claim.
People tried to come up with many ways of capturing the creature from large hooks to using other people as bait. None of those attempts where tried, but the sightings continued.
Even though Mr. Rich admitted that he had fabricated the stories he told the sightings of the creature in the lake continued with more locals coming forward saying what they saw. In 1907 a letter was published in the local newspaper that claimed two men had seen the creature attack their camp and take one of their horses back into the water with it. In 1946 a local Scout leader told people that he had seen the creature while out on the lake.
One of the more “famous” stories is from Garden City Utah. It says that a couple were walking along the beach and came across a corpse rotted so badly they could only take a couple pictures before fleeing the sight and smell. Later they would submit the pictures to a Dr. Brian Upton with the Division of Wildlife in the area. The sad part of this part of our tale is this couple can’t be confirmed to real nor the Dr. they submitted the pictures to.
What's happening today?
These days a lot of the locals in the area don't believe there is really a creature in the lake. There as been no sighting for awhile that can be taken semi-serious and with water levels what they are people feel they would have seen something by now. The legend of the beast is used more as an inside joke and a tourist attraction by people like me who go and see what they can.
Ever full of questions, as I am, I would pose this back to the locals and people who are on the fence about this creature. Since it hasn't been proven the creature isn't in the lake how can we say there is nothing there to learn about? Descriptions of the creature vary from being giant like a dinosaur to being as big as a crocodile; no study has ever been done to disprove the tunnel theory so it's plausible until proven otherwise I think.
Even though I was not able to see anything I can report as being the creature I would still like to think it's possible there is something out in this lake. It may not be the giant creature of old; the solution could be as simple as a new type of fish that hasn't been recognized by science yet.
I think it would be a sad day indeed if there was nothing left for us to discover on this earth. I hope if nothing else these writings can encourage you enough to go out there and find the answers for yourself. Don't believe someone who tells you something is real or not, find the answer for yourself that satisfies your curiosity. To quote one of my favorite shows, "The truth is out there."
© 2017 Chosen Shades