Legend has it that upstate New York’s picturesque Cayuga Lake is the home of not one, but two, scaly, 15 to 35-foot long serpentine beasts… one of which has a penchant for attacking humans!
Nestled in the beautiful, rolling hills of upstate New York, the Finger Lakes are a series of long, thin bodies of water that early mapmakers thought resembled “fingers” at a distance. This series of glacially formed lakes is located not terribly far from from Lake Champlain, the home of America’s favorite lake beast CHAMP, but unlike the notoriously monster ridden Champlain, most of the Finger Lakes are not known to harbor any anomalous animals… that is with few notable exceptions.
Cayuga Lake is over 38-miles long and runs at at depth of about 435-feet, making it one of the deepest lakes in North America. It is known for its pristine beauty, wonderful fishing, excellent wineries and, according to some, a pair of predatory eel-like monstrosities with a terrifying taste for human flesh.
Although not much is known about these aquatic anomalies, the first widespread report was printed in the January 5, 1897, edition of the Ithaca Journal. According to the account, the year marked what was considered to be the 69th annual confirmed report of the creature, which would mean that the sightings began in 1828. From the original article:
“The members of The Journal staff have been living in daily anticipation of the monster’s appearance, and have actually shunned assignments which would take them near the water’s edge for fear of being compelled to shudder and tremble at the sight of him.“
While legends of a large, serpent-like creature dwelling in the mud darkened waters of Cayuga Lake actually date back at least to the early 1800s, it wouldn’t be until 1929, that people began reporting not one, but two creatures cavorting simultaneously along the Lake’s Eastern shoreline.
The animals were described by “cottagers” — folks who spent their summers living on the shores of the lake — as being approximately 12 to 15-feet in length, and local journalists speculated that they might be:
“…members of the Seneca Lake sea serpent family that found their way into the local waters through a subterranean channel which is believed to exist between the two lakes.“
This is a theory to which Loch Ness researchers are no strangers, as if has often be proposed that Loch Ness is not only connected to other lochs, but also the Atlantic Ocean via a vast network of underground caves. That having been said, there are even less verifiable accounts of anomalous, aquatic animals living in Seneca Lake and no evidence what-so-ever of a channel linking Cayuga to Seneca lake.
Beyond a doubt the most horrifying account ever associated with these alleged animals occurred in the summer of 1974. In the summer of that year a teenager named Steven Griffen was attacked by what has been described as an “eel-like” creature — perhaps akin to the LAKE ERIE CHOMPER — while swimming in Cayuga Lake.
According to the report, this toothy AQUATIC ENIGMA lunged at Griffen’s arm, snapping its jaws down with such tremendous force that it actually broke the bone. One can only suspect that this discouraged the young man from anything but pool swimming from that day forth.
The most recent confirmed account of this creature (or creatures) hails from the spring of 1979. It was then that the owner of J.T. Marshall Professional Diving Service, Jack Marshall, claimed to have seen a huge serpentine beast floating on the surface of the lake.
Marshall claims that he was boating with some friends on the lake, when he spied what he believed to be a log in front of the boat.
Marshall shouted for the driver of the boat to stop before he collided with the debris and as the vessel drifted to a halt, they all watched in horror as what they described as a 30 to 35-foot “creature” — which, no doubt unfamiliar with historical accounts of the beast, he dubbed “Cayuga Katie” — submerged before their eyes. According to Marshall:
“There really is something there. I never used to believe it, but Cayuga Katie made a believer out of me.“
On December 4, 2009, a report was published online regarding the claims of an unnamed resident of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, who asserted that in the early part of the 21st Century he had a run-in with Cayuga Lake’s hometown monstrosity:
“I’ve been face to face with Old Greeny; not more than 100-feet away from me as I stood on the northern shore of Lake Cayuga looking south across the lake; eight or nine years ago. It raised it’s triangular-tooth-filled jaws with aquatic plants hanging from it’s half-open mouth to break surface for only about three seconds before once again submerging. I will never forget that large, unblinking eye staring to the west at nothing in particular; never acknowledging my presence. Don’t let anyone tell you I saw a floating log or a beaver! I know I saw an animal that is not supposed to exist! By what I observed I can tell you it was standing on the bottom when it raised it’s head for me to see; not swimming; but stationary!”
While there’s no way to confirm the veracity of this anonymous report, there can be little doubt that it adds yet another frightening layer to this intriguing anomaly, second-hand accounts of which have sporadically filtered into American Monsters throughout the 21st Century.
Nevertheless, local skeptics have assured swimmers that the sightings were nothing more than a classic example of misidentified sturgeon, which have been known to frequent Cayuga’s waters.
This is a hypothesis which has also been applied to the MAY’S POINT MYSTERY FISH, which has been reported to dwell in a murky, carp filled body of water connected to Cayuga Lake. That having been stated, to anyone who has actually come into contact with Old Greeny, the sturgeon explanation simply does not hold water.
© Copyright Rob Morphy 2002 — 2011