The myth of Bessie, the Lake Erie monster: Remember When

The Weekly World News tabloid once showed a photo of the Lake Erie monster sinking a sailboat. (Weekly World News)

The Lake Erie monster’s name is Bessie. And according to legend, she’s the mutation of missing Lorain cows, in 1894.

Unless you believe she’s a 25-foot serpent swimming around the Lake Erie Islands.

The Loch Ness-like legend has spawned the name of a minor league hockey team (but not a mascot, oddly), a comic books and a Great Lakes Brewing Co. beer. For a decade, Huron had a wood-and-plastic monster sculpture, nicknamed Lemmy, that stood in the Huron River.

Some people attribute sightings over the decades to lake sturgeon, a fish that can grow to 20 feet and 300 pounds.

But others say no way.

Weird Ohio reports this, from the July 8, 1898, edition of the Daily Register of Sandusky: “For a number of years, vague stories about huge serpents have come with each recurring season from Dominion [Canadian] shores, and now, at last, the existence of these fierce monsters is verified and the fact so well established that it can no longer be questioned. The monster reported was able to live both on land and in water. It was a “fierce, ugly, coiling thing, call it a snake or what you will.” It was said to be 25 to 30 feet long and a foot in diameter.

In 1993, the Plain Dealer reported that 10 businesses banded together to 10 area businesses to pledge a reward of $102,700 in cash and prizes, if anyone caught a creature measuring at least 30 feet long, weigh at least 1,000 pounds and be an unidentified aquatic species.

That was after boaters on two separate occasions reported seeing part the monster between Huron and Maumee Bay.

“I know what I saw,” said John Liles, a Huron charter boat captain. “The thing is huge. I didn’t see the head, just the tail flopping in the water toward the end of it.”

Liles and his wife, Holly, said they saw the snakelike creature about two miles from Kelleys Island on July 12 while aboard the 52-foot charter boat they run.

Nine days earlier and about 5 or 10 miles away, a fisherman reported seeing a serpent measuring between 30 and 40 feet.

Here’s a list of other sightings

And here’s a YouTube video from 1991, which claims to be of Bessie.

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