Friday 18 April 2014


It is irritating having to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to assessing the evidence for lake monsters when that evidence stems from the 19th Century.  We are particularly impeded by the fact that newspapers on a day when they had little to print would put in a hoax story.  Take, for example, the legend of the monster in Lake Elizabeth (California).  This was supposed to be a flying monster and a Los Angeles newspaper reported it in 1886, saying it was the size of four elephants, had six legs and a head reminiscent of a bulldog's.  It had, of course, wings to keep it airborne.  The witness, the story continues, fired at it, but the bullets proved ineffective.

The reason this monster was supposed to have come from Lake Elizabeth was because a monster had earlier been reported from the lake and, three years before the report given above, a flying monster had been seen which the witness believed had come from the lake.  Neither of these two reports is necessarily a deliberate falsehood and may even be accurate, but surely the six-legged behemoth of 1886 must stretch our credulity.  Certainly, if there were a skyful of such beasts, we would all have to buy umbrellas.  There may have been a monster seen in the lake and perhaps one in the sky in 1883; perhaps they were the same creature.  But it would take very convincing evidence to persuade the discerning reader that the 1886 report contained a grain of truth.

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