USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Lake Monster’
Legends
Narrative
Protection

“Bozho” the lake monster – Tale

Piece:Uhm think about this, my dad told me this story about this one monster and I’ll tell you what the name of it is, so lake Mendota, its called Bozho, so its like a serpentine snake like creature, its like the monster of lake Mendota, my dad said that in all lakes of Wisconsin. Delavan lake, Lake Geneva, whatever, theres a monster that has access to all the lakes,  so if you swim past the designated area like the buoys and shit. It can get you, its too shallow near the shore so it cant swim there, he told me this so that I would stay within the buoys.

Background information:The informant is a close friend of mine from back home. (Wisconsin) He lives in the town adjacent to Elkhorn, Wisconsin, so he is very familiar with the area.

Context: The informant first heard this tale as a kid. His dad used it to scare him from swimming outside the buoys. The informant remembers it because he lives on the lake, so he always has a reminder.

Personal Analysis: I’ve never heard of this lake monster, but I can definitely see why it was used to prevent kids from swimming past the buoys. What scared me from swimming in the lake as a kid was a short story a person had told me. A man had said that if you swim out past the piers, the seaweed wraps itself around your legs and drowns you. Although it’s not a sea monster, seeing the sea weed sway with the current certainly personified it enough to scare me.

 

Folk Beliefs
general
Legends

Lake Champlain Monster: Champ

Piece:

“So, there’s this lake in the northeast called Lake Champlain, and people who live around the lake say that there’s a monster similar to the Loch Ness monster who occupies the lake, and the name of this monster is Champ. There have been multiple sightings ever since people have come to America, and people around there even believe that the monster, who lives in the lake, was worshipped by Indians as a god. But there have been no violent confrontations with the monster, and it is believed to be very nice and kind.

“I used to go to a ski lodge around the lake, and I heard [this story] from someone at a store there. Like one of those small souvenir stores.”

Analysis:

Local monster stories are both common and relatively easy to keep alive once started. As well as the two named in the story there are tales of the jersey devil, yetis, bigfoot, and countless other seemingly mythical creatures. Upon further investigation into Champ, the Lake Champlain monster, I was able to find examples of his cult of personality. Lake Champlain is the largest lake in the Adirondacks and draws large crowds for outdoor events throughout the year. Historically, the region was home to the Iroquois and the Abenaki, who both had stories about a creature that lived in the lake. Samuel de Champlain was cited as seeing a monster in the lake, but it was later found to have been in a different body of water. He described the creatures he saw as about five feet long, though he was told they grow up to ten, thick as his thigh with scales that even a dagger could not penetrate. This description sounds similar enough to a garfish, which current historians believe to be the actual creature seen in the lake. As time went on many of the stories began to report a larger beast. Some reported it at around thirty feet, while one even went as far as one-hundred and eighty-seven. Over time, sighting numbers and intrigue have grown, with Champ gaining national and international acclaim as ‘America’s Loch Ness Monster’.

More information on Champ can be found on the Lake Champlain tourism website at https://www.lakechamplainregion.com/heritage/champ.

Context:

The interviewee is a 23-year-old male who attends the University of Southern California, pursuing a masters degree in computer science. When he was very young, he lived in India, until he moved to South Africa. He lived in South Africa from then until he moved to New York City to pursue his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering.

This interview was conducted in person at the interviewed party’s house. The audio was recorded in order to aid in accurate transcription of the dialogue that took place.

general
Legends

Lake Kelowna and The Ogopogo

Collector: Can you tell me about the Ogopogo?

HK: Well, at the like I visit in the summer, Lake Kelowna, there is a legend that a sea serpent just like the Lochness monster lives in the lake there. 

Collector: What is the Ogopogo like?

HK: It’s supposedly like huge green sea serpent that lives at the bottom of the lake. It’s pretty much just like the Loch

Ness Monster but the Canadian version. 

Collector: Is this a common legend there?

HK: Yeah everyone that goes to Kelowna or lives there knows all about the Ogopogo.

Collector: Do you believe that this Ogopogo actually is real and lives in the lake? Do the people of Kelowna believe in the Ogopogo? 

 HK: I don’t believe it anymore but as a young child I was very scared of it and wouldn’t ever want to go into the water. Yeah, a lot of people do believe in it people have claimed to see it and it is a pretty large fixture in the community. There are even signs referencing it and statues of the Ogopogo. 

Collector: When were you first introduced to this legend and how was it presented to you?

HK: The first time I heard of the Ogopogo was one summer when I first visited the lake with my parents and grandparents when I was seven years old. My grandfather was telling me and my sister stories by the fire one night. He told us how he had been coming to the Lake Kelowna since he was a kid and the legend had always been around. He said that the serpent would come out of the water every few years and lived at the bottom of the lake feeding on the deep swimmers and fish. After hearing that story for him I began to see and hear references of the Ogopogo all over town. I really wish he didn’t tell us because, me and my sister were scared of the lake for years after, even though we would have heard about it somewhere else eventually. 

Collector: How has your understanding and belief in the legend changed over time?

HK: I just don’t really believe it in anymore. I did as a kid and a lot of kids there do, but as I’ve gotten older and never have actually seen it I kinda just stopped worrying about it or believing it. Also, since its kinda a playful part of the community like the statues and signs around town, it just seems more like a spooky story to have fun with rather than anything real. 

Context: My informant is an eighteen-year-old freshman student at USC. He was born and raised solely in Edmonton, Alberta in Canada until age fifteen then moved to Palm Desert, California. Even since living in California, my informant has still spent around a month every summer at Lake Kelowna. His performance of explaining this legend to me was done at the Sigma Chi fraternity house at USC. 

Analysis: I thought this legend of the Ogopogo to be a very fascinating one. It strikes me as peculiar and interesting that even though it is very similar to the legend of the Lochness Monster, that I had never heard of it even though Lake Kelowna is much closer to America and where I have spent my life. I also find it fascinating that the legend seems to be such a cultural characteristic of Lake Kelowna. Not only is it just something everyone seems to be aware of there,0 but they market it and have statues of it.

general
Legends
Narrative

Ogopogo Lake Monster

Context: The informant is a Canadian-American who has family from the regions surrounding the Okanogan lake, reportedly the home to the “Ogopogo,” a monster treading the waters.

[Speaking face to face]

“So it’s like… Ogopogo, and it lives in… yeah I think it’s the Okanoga. But, um, yeah right so Ogopogo is basically Lochness Monster for Canada and it says like… it’s to live in Okanogan Lake in British Columbia. And it was, according to Wikipedia, it was allegedly seen by the first nation peoples in the 19th century. Um… so it was like… as far as Canadian folklore goes, it kind of all I know.”

KA: How did you hear about that?

“My mom, I think, yeah. Um… but like, everyone knows about Ogopogo in my family, ’cause like, most of my family is from British Columbia. I mean, the Okanogan- like my family lives in the Okanogan, so wait… where is Okanogan Lake because I might’ve actually been there. Oh right, I’m actually closer to this lore than I thought. Um, my aunt lives in Colona, and it’s IN Colona, where the Okanogan Lake is. It’s a very big lake, but… yeah. I think even if you go to the… I think there’s like some mini golf type thing there in Colona, and they have like, an Ogopogo monster… like… in the place. It’s like a family fun center”

Introduced: The informant knows of the legend due to it being socially constructed around them, having family from British Columbia. It was primarily introduced through Informant, (LG)’s mother.

Analysis & Interpretation: The Ogopogo is clearly comparable to the infamous Loch Ness Monster of Scottish folklore. I find it interesting how though it is perceived as such a prevalent part of Scottish culture and identity, particularly regarding inhabitants of areas directly surrounding Loch Ness, it is such an internationally recognized legend. As someone from the U.S., I grew up hearing of Loch Ness and not necessarily attributing that to a specific region; Essentially, anywhere you went with a body of water could potentially be home the infamous Nessie. I’ve found that many children may tend to generalize it and attribute it to their own location. But beyond this, the Ogopogo, very far from reported Loch Ness Monster (Nessie) sitings, has exemplified the globalization of a multi-version mysterious lake creature.

 

For similar renditions of the hidden lake monster tale in other regions, refer to the Scottish based “Loch Ness Monster” legend at:

History.com. (2019). Loch Ness Monster [Video file] https://www.history.com/topics/folklore/loch-ness-monster-video

Legends

Champ: Vermont’s Loch Ness Monster

This story was told during a moment between friends when talking about stories and weird traditions from our hometowns:

“Okay um, so Champ. Champ is a seas monster that lives in lake champlain which is where i grew up. We, it’s like, explained as the Loch Ness Monster but in Lake Champlain, um, and it just kinda like, i think the folklore around it, it’s like, it’s not like a fun thing that we joke about, everyone is pretty sure that it’s real, like, we’re all trying to prove it. Like there’s this little Vermont boathouse that’s run by this French-Canadian family where you can get penny candy, you can rent boats for five dollars an hour, it’s like everything’s so cheap, a land lost in time. Um, his sister, who’s like the face of the operation now, um has the store and was interviewed by the news because she saw it come up on the land. And why would she lie? She’s the most trust-worthy person in all of burlington. Um, so like that’s kinda it, we’re all trying to prove that theres a seamster in the lake. Because it’s the deepest fresh-water lake in the continental US. I think in the US. It’s just so deep, not that big, but so deep. There’s gotta be something down there, it could survive. Um, it’s kinda one of those things that I don’t remember hearing about for the time, because it’s so engrained in the culture, especially in burlington which is the main tourist town around the lake and so much of the imagery around the waterfront is Champ related, um, but I can remember, like i don’t remember if this is, the most memory that I can think of is that there’s a fun little statue of champ, like very cartoony, in front of this like, like, club, but a place you’d go to have a nice dinner and listen to music, so like that, we went there one time and I saw it and I was like what’s that and my mom was like that’s Champ! but yeah, all the imagery is around champ, our vermont minor league baseball team is the Vermont Lake Monsters… so my parents aren’t from burlington, and they aren’t from burlington at all, and a lot of my friends are fourth or fifth generation vermonters, and there’s a place called Ken’s Pizza, and we call it Kens, but the real vermonters call it the pub. It was the part of the place that I get to be a part of that my parents weren’t to be a part of the folklore and be a real Vermonter.”

Champ is a local figure of Lake Champlain in Vermont and New York. Folklore surrounding Champ dates back all the way to the native populations before white settlers. Today, the lake is protected safe waters for the sole purpose of maintaining Champ’s habitat. It’s even been put into legislature! You can find out more by looking up Champ’s folklore, of which there is many.

 

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Narrative

Illiamna Lake Monster

My informant states that there have been accounts of people seeing a giant monster in the lake. My informant states that his friend whom is a bush pilot has seen a giant ripple shaped as a V, moving through the lake. My informant stated that this creature is known to be bigger than a blue whale and people have seen it for over hundreds of years. People have seen sightings of this creature. This creature is described as giant whale like creature, however it is a fresh water creature. People are not scared of this creature and actually still fish there even though this legend is prevalent in Alaska. My informant has also heard that there have been attacks on fishermen and people by this creature as people have been knocked out of their boats.

My informant heard this from his friend and he tells this story to guests who visit him in Alaska. He also states that this is a very popular legend in Alaska, as many different television shows that focus on capturing “mythic creatures.” have attempted to catch the laker monster.

When I asked my informant if he has nay ideas what this creature is, he stated that it could be a whale that adapted to freshwater. Scientists and Alaska Department of Fish and Game have actually research for this creature and have not found anything. My analysis on this is that it is the same as other tales about lake monsters in other countries. The water has always been mysterious for human beings as it is an environment where people are out of their comfort zone, thus fears start to creep into people’s mind and create monsters. This could also be a tourist attraction for people to visit this specific lake.

Interestingly this legend was annotated in two television shows, one was the River Monster’s episode Alaska Horror, where the host, Jeremy Wade attempted to capture the lake monster. Jeremy Wade in the end of the episode stated that he believes that the creature is a giant white sturgeon, however he had no proof that his claim was true. Discovery Channel also had a special where two fishermen from The Deadliest Catch attempted to capture this creature, however they came up empty again.

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