contributed by RL
We have all heard them, the folklore's that inspire us, or scare us, while we sit around the campfire roasting our marshmallows to the warmth of glowing embers as darkness falls upon our campsite. Maybe they have been told to you during a sleep over or while visiting relatives to spur your imagination to help you sleep or to keep you awake all night.
There is always a story teller and a listener for these tales. Most have been scary; some funny, others just plain dumb tales and folklore that fascinate us of our local heros, villains and legends. Folklore invites us to be a part of the community in which we live or visit because we know or have heard the lore from the past that connects us with the here. Folklore is sometimes based on a truth with a little extra added, some would say falsehood, that catches the imagination that has us listening on the edge of our seat. The name folklore itself was thought to have started around 1846 to express the bigger than life events of heros and villains from the past and perhaps those from our own time. Sometimes they teach lessons on values, (http://read.gov/aesop/about.
Now that we have started this route and it is the month of October lets go on with one of our own local legends or folklore often spoken of here in the Bear Lake valley. Get a table ready just after dark some night, light one of those emergency candles and place in the middle of the table or some of those emergency glow sticks to set the mood. Turn out the lights sit back with some Hot Cocoa for everyone; you may want to add some marshmallows as you tell this story to the young ones, adding a little popcorn for them to munch on while they listen. Then tell them the story of the Bear Lake Monster.
It all starts when people first came to the beautiful valley of Bear Lake and the first time they saw the lake, now known as the Caribbean of the Rockies. (https://www.travelawaits.com/
He, or she, the Bear Lake Monster, was first sighted before the valley was settled by our pioneers forefathers as reported by one who came with those pioneers, Joseph C. Rich.
Rich wrote an article in 1868 saying that the native Indians spoke of a serpent-like animal that inhabited the waters of Bear Lake. Which, the settlers added up to a bunch of hear say; until they saw the creature with their own eyes. In fact so many started spotting the creature, after settling in the valley, even more than one creature at a time at some sightings, lead to the belief that the lake was infested. With each sighting at different locations and times almost caused a panic among the settlers of the day, who did not want to use the lake for any purpose after the encounters.
Of course the papers of the time published articles both for and against these sightings of the unknown beast. But the rumors still continued leading to numerous investigations by local residents and non-residents to capture the beast and by eager reporters sent from newspapers to get pictures to make themselves famous. Even the leader of the LDS Church, then President Brigham Young (https://www.mormonnewsroom.
The Bear Lake Monster appears not to like being the center of attraction and has eluded all who have tried to capture it or even get a clear picture of the amphibian.
With the discovery of the bones of Mosasaurs (https://www.fossilera.com/
In 1907 two men saw the behemoth attack their camp and kill one of their horses while camping on the shores of Bear Lake, giving credence to the reports of missing cows and sheep that had disappeared while near the waters of the lake. Then again in 1937 a four year old claimed sighting the creature while visiting the lake with family; and in 1946 a Boy Scout leader reported sighting the reptile while in the valley camping on the lake.
As you can tell these sightings just keep happening at the lake by different people from different walks of life both from the valley and by our visitors from around the world. Even in 2002 the animal was sighted again by a local businessman, to his disbelief, during a trip to the lake. Could this our local folklore be the reason why rubber rafts get swamped or boats capsized while out enjoying the majestic lake?
Come and see for yourselves and while here stop by and pick up some Mountain House meals to heat up and eat while camping down at the lake and don't forget that 72 hour kit for your vehicle while on your expedition, at Rainy Day Foods, while you try to catch a glimpse of the elusive creature that may be related to old Nessie of Lock Ness. (http://www.nessie.co.uk/)
In all honesty twenty-six years after his first article about the Bear Lake Monster Joseph C. Rich is reportedly to have said that it had all been a wonderful first class, lie. If it is or is not a lie you will have to decide; but the beauty of Bear Lake is truly told in its designation as the Caribbean of the Rockies. And as to date, no sea creature has been photographed or captured in Bear Lake (except for some pretty good size fish) but there are many strange things and bones that wash up on the shore and found in the caves that lay below the surface. And on those early mornings when fog shrouds the lake, shadows are still seen! 'Till next time RL