Bessie (lake monster)

Grouping Local legend
Sub grouping Lake monster
Similar creatures Nessie
Other name(s) South Bay Bessie
Country United States
Region Lake Erie
Habitat Water and land

Bessie is a name given to an alleged lake monster in Lake Erie,[1] also known as South Bay Bessie.[2] The first recorded sighting of Bessie occurred in 1793,[1] and more sightings have occurred intermittently and in greater frequency in the last three decades.[1] Bessie is reported to be snake-like and 9 to 12 m (30 to 40 ft) long, at least a foot in diameter, with a grayish color.[1]

While shooting at ducks north of Sandusky Ohio in 1793; the captain of the sloop Felicity startled a large creature (snake) described as “more than a rod (16 ½ ft.) in length”

July 1817, the crew of a schooner reported a 30 to 40-foot long serpent, dark in colour.

Later that year, another boat crew spotted a similar animal, this time copper-coloured and 60 feet (18 m) in length. This time, they shot at it with muskets, which had no visible effect.

A third 1817 incident took place near Toledo, when French settlerstwo brothers named Dusseauencountered a huge monster on the beach, writhing in what they took to be its death throes. The brothers described it as between 20 and 30 feet (6.1 and 9.1 m) in length and shaped like a large sturgeon, except that it had arms. The panicked brothers fled the scene, and when they returned later, the creature had disappeared, presumably carried off by waves after its death. All that was left of its presence were marks on the beach and a number of silver scales about the size of silver dollars.

An extraordinary sighting which was carried by local newspapers took place by the entire crew of a ship bound from Buffalo, New York, to Toledo, Ohio, in July 1892.. The crew (including captain) saw a large area of water about 0.5 miles (0.80 km) ahead of them churned up and foaming. As they approached they saw “a huge sea serpent” that appeared to be “wrestling about in the waters, as if fighting with an unseen foe.” They observed as the creature relaxed itself and stretched out full lengthestimated at 50 feet (15 m) long and 4 feet (1.2 m) in circumferencewith its head sticking up above the water an additional 4 feet (1.2 m). The brownish creature’s eyes were described as “viciously sparkling” and large fins were also noted.

Crystal Beach near Fort Erie was the scene of another sighting on May 5, 1896. This time there were four eyewitnesses who watched for 45 minutes as a 30-foot (9.1 m) creature with a dog-shaped head and pointy tail churned up the water as it swam about until finally disappearing before nightfall.[3]

There were some sightings of the alleged monster in 1969, the 1980s and in 1993.[4][5] An original $5,000 reward[6] (later upped to $100,000)[7] has been offered by Thomas Solberg of Huron Lagoons Marina for the capture of Bessie.[4]

In Iroquois culture there is the dragon-like horned serpent Oniare. Oniare is native to the Great Lakes and mortal enemy to thunder god Hinon.[13]


  1. 1 2 3 4 "Happy Anniversary Loch Nessie, from Lake Erie's Bessie!". 2007-11-12. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
  2. ""South Bay Bessie" A Monster in Lake Erie". Retrieved 2012-08-13.
  3. "Cryptozoology Online: Still on the Track: 01/20/10". 2010-01-20. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
  4. 1 2 Elfman, Eric. "South Bay Bessie (Water Monsters U.S.A./Spooky Morsel Archive)". ElfmanWorld. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  5. Ho, Oliver (2008). Mysteries Unwrapped: Mutants & Monsters. Sterling Publishing Company. p. 18. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  6. "Legend of Lake Erie Monster Rises Again". Los Angeles Times (Associated Press). September 30, 1990. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  7. "Bessie, Lake Erie's Monster". Weird US. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  8. Cassady Jr, Charles (August 12, 2009). "Summer Reading Excerpt Part III (excerpt of Paranormal Great Lakes: An Illustrated Encyclopedia)". Cleveland Scene. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  9. Zurcher, Neil (May 22, 2010). "Prehistoric Forest and Mystery Hill Family Fun Center will close its doors next fall". Retrieved August 13, 2015.
  10. "South Bay Bessie". Retrieved 2012-08-13.
  11. "Great Lakes Brewing Company: Homepage". Retrieved 2012-08-13.
  12. "The Lake Erie Monster". self published. Retrieved 2014-08-08.
  13. "Oniare, the Iroquois horned serpent (Onyare, Oniont)". Retrieved 2016-09-19.
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