Is There a Serpent in Bear Lake?

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A few years ago, Live4Him asked if there really was such a thing as the ninety-foot serpent Bryce described around the campfire in Heartbreak Trail. Below is his story, excerpted from the book. Below the excerpt are the facts Mrs. M learned when researching the story. You decide! Let me know your thoughts in the comments.  

from Heartbreak Trail, Chapter 7

After Toledo had strummed a dozen songs and everyone’s throats were raw from singing, young Bryce cleared his throat. “Have you heard what’s lurking in Bear Lake?” he asked in a low, eerie voice.     

The hair on the back of Andi’s neck stood on end. She glanced around. Twilight had deepened to a dark blue. Stars dusted the sky. Just across the glowing campfire, Bryce sat in the shadows, his face glowing an unnatural orange from the firelight. Determined not to look like a greenhorn in front of the men, Andi held her peace and didn’t answer. But she couldn’t help shivering a little.     

“What?” Mitch chuckled, playing along.     

“A serpent ninety feet long,” Bryce said.     

Andi gasped.     

“According to the many who have spied the serpent,” Bryce said, “it has a thin head, a large mouth, and small legs that move swiftly through the water.” He wiggled his fingers. “It spouts water upwards from its mouth and moves so fast that it leaves a wake behind, much like a boat.”     

Andi found herself holding her breath. She glanced at Levi, who sat spellbound at Bryce’s side, eyes wide.     

“Folks have seen the monster crawl up onto the beach with short, flipper-like legs. Once ashore, it holds its head high and turns it from side to side as it looks about.” Bryce stretched out his neck and slowly moved it back and forth. Then he raised his hands and grabbed the air. “The Indians inhabiting the area tell stories of how the creature sometimes captures and carries off—”     

Something grabbed Andi from behind and wrenched her away from the fire, immersing her in darkness. Terror seized her. She shrieked and clawed to get away.

Strong arms held her tight. “Hey, take it easy!” Chad said. Then he set her free.

And now, the REST of the story . . .

The Serpent of Bear Lake

Did Mrs. M make this up for the story, or is there evidence that some kind of creature might have actually lived in the lake, at least during the time period of Heartbreak Trail? Read on . . .

Bear Lake is a beautiful, turquoise, freshwater lake on the border between Idaho and Utah. It is split equally between the two states. The Shoshone Indians lived by the lake and were there when fur trappers (the first white people) saw the lake. Later in 1863, Mormon pioneers settled near the lake.

Over the years, many strange legends circulated among the Indians (and later with the white settlers) of a huge sea creature that lived in Bear Lake. 

An 1868 article in the Deseret News reported that “The Indians have a tradition concerning a strange, serpent-like creature inhabiting the waters of Bear Lake . . .” The descriptions varied a lot—from Bryce’s tale of a 90-foot long sea serpent with a thin head, large mouth, and small legs that moved swiftly through the water—to looking like a giant crocodile or a walrus (minus the tusks) and spouting water from its mouth. Some insisted it moved as fast as a locomotive through the water. Others said the monster crawled up onto the beach with short, flipper-like legs. The Indians reported that the creature at times captured and carried away their people. Yikes!  

With so many stories going around about this one lake, it seems that something was disturbing the peace for all those years. While most legends and tales get blown out of proportion with the retelling, the stories are often based on a seed of truth.  Other “sea monster” stories have been the constant fare of sailors for hundreds of years.

Truth or Tale?

Could the serpent of Bear Lake have been a descendant of the great sea creatures God created on day five? Much evidence points to early peoples having interaction with both land and sea creatures that today we call dinosaurs. The word “dinosaur” did not even come into use until 1841, less than 200 years ago. Before then these creatures were called “leviathan,” and are mentioned in the Bible, along with the other word for huge creatures, “behemoth.” As recently as 1977 (before PhotoShop) Japanese fishermen hauled up a 4,000-pound sea creature. They took this picture but cut the thing loose. It was dead and rotting, and they didn’t want it spoiling their catch.   

So, there you have it. What do you think? Was the Serpent of Bear Lake a real creature like the Native Americans (and other Americans) reported seeing? 
Scroll down for the 1800s account of two ranchers in Arizona seeing a flying Pterodactyl! 

The Tombstone [Arizona] Epitaph published this news article on April 26, 1890:
A winged monster, resembling a huge alligator with an extremely elongated tail and an immense pair of wings, was found on the desert between the Whetstone and Huachuca mountains last Sunday by two ranchers who were returning home from the Huachucas. The creature was evidently greatly exhausted by a long flight and when discovered was able to fly but a short distance at a time.After the first shock of wild amazement had passed the two men, who were on horseback and armed with Winchester rifles, regained sufficient courage to pursue the monster and after an exciting chase of several miles succeeded in getting near enough to open fire with their rifles and wounding it.

The creature then turned on the men, but owing to its exhausted condition they were able to keep out of its way and after a few well directed shots the monster partly rolled over and remained motionless.

The men cautiously approached, their horses snorting with terror, and found that the creature was dead.

They then proceeded to make an examination and found that it measured about ninety-two feet in length and the greatest diameter was about fifty inches. The monster had only two feet, these being situated a short distance in front of where the wings were joined to the body. The head, as near as they could judge, was about eight feet long, the jaws being thickly set with strong, sharp teeth. Its eyes were as large as a dinner plate and protruded about halfway from the head.

They had some difficulty in measuring the wings as they were partly folded under the body, but finally got one straightened out sufficiently to get a measurement of seventy-eight feet, making the total length from tip to tip about 160 feet. The wings were composed of a thick and nearly transparent membrane and were devoid of feathers or hair, as was the entire body. The skin of the body was comparatively smooth and easily penetrated by a bullet.

The men cut off a small portion of the tip of one wing and took it home with them. Late last night one of them arrived in this city for supplies and to make the necessary preparations to skin the creature, when the hide will be sent east for examination by the eminent scientists of the day.

The finder returned early this morning accompanied by several prominent men who will endeavor to bring the strange creature to this city before it is mutilated.

You just never know! Is this an olden-day UFO sighting (Unidentified Flying Object), or was it the last of its kind–a flying creature from Day 5 of Creation? 

Published by Andi Carter

I'm the main character in the Circle C Adventures series. I live on a huge cattle ranch in 1880s California. These are my adventures.

12 thoughts on “Is There a Serpent in Bear Lake?

  1. That’s awesome! It reminds me of when I went to the beach last summer and I found some seashell fossils. It was so neat to see a remnant of an Earth God created in six days, and not millions of years ago.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Hmmm, i have no clue if its a truth or tale…..?
    I do agree with you, LuLu, though, that God created the earth in six days NOT a millions of years ago 😉

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I agree 100% on that, Tori!!! I have no doubt there very well could have been one in the Bible times! but I don’t know, it seems to me that if there was one, we might have found it by now with all the research people do 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t know, it could be possible… scientists found out in the early 2000s that a fish long thought to be extinct had been fished by fishermen in Indonesia for generations. I definitely agree that the earth is ~6,000 years old instead of millions of years, though.
    That story about the flying creature was one I haven’t heard before, thanks for sharing that!
    ~Anna Elizabeth

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Do you know what kind of fish? this could (for me) ensue into an all-out investigation! XD. Just kidding, I’d just like to read about it, it sounds interesting!

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Nor had I until I received a copy of Weird Arizona (which I do not recommend if you have an overactive imagination or dislike urban legends). Apparently, some cowboys shot the Thunderbird of Native American lore. They took a photo which mysteriously became lost to history.


      1. Yes, and I have (or used to have) a copy of the newspaper article from that time period that recorded the event, so I have a tendency to believe it really happened. 🙂


  4. Fact or fiction? The dividing line can be pretty thin. They say to take things with a grain of salt–these tales may requiire a whole salt shaker full. HA HA,

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I know about the Pterodactyl one! It was supposedly the mythological Thunder Bird from Native American lore.
    If you search “Pterodactyl az”, you should be able to find an old black-and-white photo of this

    Liked by 1 person

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