Residence: Los Angeles, California
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/29/21
Primary Language: English
Background: The informant frequently visited Lake Tahoe growing up. She knows a lot about the Lake itself and told me she’d heard this legend.
SD: So this is the story of Tahoe Tessie, uh, named after Nessie which is, uh, the more colloquial name for the Loch Ness Monster, they like to call–I don’t know who they is in this scenario–the people of the Loch, I guess, like to call her, I believe it’s a woman, I believe that the Loch Ness Monster is a female according to the lore. But yeah, so it’s Tahoe Tessie, it’s Lake Tahoe, the supposed monster that lives in Lake Tahoe, I would assume it’s akin to the Loch Ness Monster–kind of a vague, dinosaur-esque crypted. No one has confirmed a sighting, I don’t believe that anyone actually believes in it, uh, but the lake is one of the like deepest lakes in California, uh, or the US I think, uh, there’s an underwater forest, all that good stuff.
Me: And how did you hear about Tahoe Tessie?
SD: I don’t know, actually. I think it’s just, you go somewhere a fair amount, you pick up the lore. Who knows which time I picked it up?
Me: Do you think many people believe in Tahoe Tessie?
SD: Uh, I really don’t. I think it’s just more people making fun of the Loch Ness Monster, uh, and making their own thing out of Lake Tahoe. But I think it’s a legend, so maybe I do think some people think it’s true.
Context: This piece was collected during an in person conversation.
Thoughts: It’s interesting that a very tourist attraction like Lake Tahoe has developed their own legend, and the informant–being a tourist–picked it up on one of her trips there so it’s not just a legend perpetuated by the people that live or are from there. This legend is passed on as perhaps a way to entice people to visit and make it even more of a tourist destination. It builds on the idea that it could be true and would exist in our own world. Since the informant said there have not been any confirmed sightings, I wonder if people have memorates that they perhaps told others and it caught on that way. It makes me think about what would be considered an official sighting if this idea is believed by some people. Or maybe it was a creation simply for the tourism industry, in which case Tahoe Tessie would be fakelore. This is an example of cryptozoology.
For another version of this legend, see History.com’s page on the Loch Ness Monster: https://www.history.com/topics/folklore/loch-ness-monster