It is a universally recognized “fact” that almost every large body of water located on this planet is said to be the home (or had once been a home) of a lake monster, and Lake Leelanau is no different. Located in Leelanau County, Michigan, Lake Leelanau covers almost 8,608 acres, has a max depth of nearly 121ft, and has a width of 1.5 miles. That fact that this lake has its own stories saying a monster dwells here is not what makes this lake unique though, what sets it apart from other lakes and other monsters is that this one is said to not resemble any other aquatic monster type within North America. This aquatic beast is one of a kind.
In the late 1800′s, a dam was built around Lake Leelanau in order to provide hydroelectric power for Leland Sawmill, one of the large lumber mills located on the lake. By doing this, the largest outlet for water on the lake to flow into the Leland River (which in turn flows into Lake Michigan) was sealed up and massive flooding took over the surrounding area. The entire lake was said to have risen nearly 12ft after the outlet was sealed. The newly flooded area turned into a dense marsh and whatever was located within the lake when the dam went up was now trapped there. This is where the first sighting of the Lake Leelanau Monster would take place.
In 1910, a young man by the name of William Gauthier decided to take his rowboat out onto the water for a day of perch fishing. Looking for a new fishing hole away from the other anglers on the water, William rowed into the marshy area and navigated around a plethora of dead and fallen trees until he felt he found the perfect spot. The area of water he was stopped in was almost 7ft deep and had a hazy look to to it as he was unable to see the bottom clearly. He rowed his boat next to a tree that he estimated was standing nearly 5ft out of the water and possessed a nearly 6in trunk. The young man unraveled his rope and was in the process of tying it around the tree next to him when he got the shock of his life.
Without warning, the object that he just a few moments earlier thought was a tree, opened its eyes and stared at him. The large eyes were situated nearly 4ft above the water and looked directly at him. William quickly let go of the rope, jumped backwards into his rowboat and nearly fell over the side. The creature moved what appeared to be its head slowly away from William and proceeded to sink beneath the water. The young man watched the tree-like body of the creature move beneath his boat through the hazy water, its movements like that of a snake. As he scanned the water amazed by the length of the creature, he caught sight of another object he once thought was a tree slip beneath the waters surface as well, only this object appeared to be the “tree” monster’s tail.
The appearance of the creature was enough to frighten him but the sheer size of its body was what caused him to flee the area. The event was such a traumatic experience for the young man that William stayed off the lake for many years, scared that if he went back on the water, he would come face to face with the creature again. As the years went on, many other people would claim to have sightings and distant encounters with the Lake Leelanau Monster, but none as up close and personal as William Gauthier.
Camouflage is a major survival technique in the animal kingdom that is used by many different species to remain safe from predators. It doesn’t matter if you are below the surface of the ocean or deep within a dense jungle, animals with the capabilities of blending in will do everything they can to remain safe and hidden within their surroundings in order to survive. It is not unimaginable that cryptids would do this as well. It is amazing to think that this creature was able to remain perfectly still and completely hidden within its environment even as a potential predator moved right up next to it. It is even more amazing to think that young William was completely unaware that a gigantic living creature was just inches away from his person until it opened its eyes and starred at him.
Reading about this encounter really starts to make you think, how many dead logs and fallen trees have you seen floating on down on the water that may have actually been a living creature just trying to survive and stay hidden?
Fantastic 17 mile run. The scenery was fantastic running around Lake Leelanau and up to a lookout over Lake Michigan along M22, but waking up and running on vacation isn’t fun. I’d rather be enjoying breakfast with the family and sleeping. Oh well… Miles logged and feeling strong. ❤️✌️🏃
Champ, Lake Champlain, Vermont: Resembling a plesiosaur, this freshwater lake monster has had over 300 reported sightings, and it’s existence draws in tourism for the lake.
Tessie, Lake Tahoe, Nevada/California: Washoe and Paiute tribes have reported Tessie’s existence since the 19th century, and sightings of the serpentine being continue to this day.
Illie, Illiamna Lake, Alaska: Natives of the fishing village say Illie, or whatever monstrous species inhabits the lake, is about ten feet long with a box-shaped head. It often rams into boats.
Altie, Altamaha-ha River, Georgia: The Tama tribe discovered the creature when they lived in the area, and it is described as sturgeon-like, with a crocodile snout and dolphin-like movements.
Chessie, Chesapeake Bay: Chessie is a sea serpent,and swims using a sine curve movement. It has been sighted multiple times, the last relevant report in 1997.
Bear Lake Monster, Idaho/Utah: It resembles a mosasaur or large crocodile, and it is about 17 feet long. Since the 19th century when Mormons first settled the area, there have been reports of it waiting by the shores to attach victims.
Sharlie, Payette Lake, Idaho: Native Americans in the area have long shared stories of an evil spirit that dwells in the lake, and in 1920 it was sited by western settlers. It was sighted often in the 1940s and since, and is described as 35 feet long, with a dinosaur head, camel humps, and shell-like skin.
Oklahoma Octopus; Lake Thunderbird, Lake Oolagah, Lake Tenkiller; Oklahoma: It is believed that perhaps multiple Giant Octopus inhabit these lakes, and the creature has been sighted many times. It is responsible for many deaths, according to reports, and the lakes have an unusually high unexplained drowning rate.
Kipsy, Hudson River: Resembling a plesiosaur, Kipsy is a more recent cryptid discovery, which many speculate is actually Vermont’s Champ who has swam downstream. A large manatee was sighted in 2006, though the two creatures look nothing alike.
South Bay Bessie, Lake Erie, Pennsylvania: The sea serpent has had numerous sightings since 1793, and is about 30 feet long with fins and thick skin. It is one of the most well-documented cryptids with consistent sightings that match up with previous reports.
Beast of Beaver Run, Beaver Run Reservoir, Pennsylvania: In 2011, park officials reported sightings of a 5-foot alligator in the Beaver Run Reservoir. The Fish and Boat commission was contacted, but since the reservoir was closed off from residential areas, workers were told to leave it alone and let it die in the cold winter. Sightings of it were harmless, as most of the time it was sunning itself or floating. That year,winter temperatures were low, and it is unclear whether it survived. It has not been spotted since, however.
Leelanau, Leelanau Lake Monster, Michigan: This creature inhabits two adjoining lakes in Michigan, called Leelanau, and has a long stump neck and long tail. It resembles a rotting tree stump, and may actually be an undocumented species. It was first reported after the Leelanau dam was built in the late 1800s.
Silver Lake Serpent, Silver Lake, New York: It is described as dragon-like, with tail fins and red eyes. It was first spotted in 1855 by fishermen.
Located along the northwest coast of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan in Leelanau County and Benzie County, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was established because of its outstanding natural features, including forests, beaches, dune formations, and ancient glacial phenomena. (Flickr/ElizabethHudy)