Carved out by a glacial dam long ago, Flathead Lake is one of the cleanest and most well known lakes in western Montana—but several residents claim that hidden beneath the scenic beauty, something sinister resides.
“I swore I saw a monstrous shadowy shape peek its head out from the ripples of the water, only to dive deeper into the lake. The current from the movement was enough to violently rock my small boat,” said Bigfork resident Richard Seimen in his interview with 107.5 ZooFM.
Sightings define this beast haunting Flathead in many ways. The creature has been described as an eel-like leviathan stretching somewhere between twenty and forty feet in length. Some describe a whale or giant sturgeon, said to weigh up to 1,500 pounds.
While 97 different accounts of the monster seem to differ, one characteristic seems to stay a constant: the creature seems to resemble another infamous lake dweller – the Loch Ness Monster.
In their piece covering the Flathead Lake Monster, ZooFM interviewed Christy Jelluin, a Polson native, who says the legend has been told around the surrounding areas for quite some time.
“The legend of the Flathead Lake Monster is one that has been passed down for many generations throughout the Polson, Kalispell and Bigfork area. Every single one of my family members have claimed to have seen the mysterious beast at one point or another in their lives,” she said.
Sightings date back to the late 1880s when a steamboat, which was touring the lake, encountered what they thought was a piece of driftwood. Once the boat got closer, they realized the object was moving at an unusually fast pace toward them. A passenger pulled out his rifle and fired at the object, scaring it off. The mystery began.
With the history of the lake’s formation, some cryptozoologists believe there might be some truth behind a large creature living and thriving in the depths of Flathead Lake.
Some 75 million years ago, the Flathead area was an inland sea with a wide variety of shark and aquatic reptile species calling it home. After the ice age ended, Flathead Lake became the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi – covering nearly 200 square miles and being as deep as 386 feet – making it deeper than the Yellow Sea and the Persian Gulf, according to the Flathead Lake Biological Station.
With such a large area to cover, it makes sense that we don’t see the Flathead Lake Monster as often as one would think. Laney Hanzel, a Flathead fisheries biologist, has been keeping records of the monster for nearly 30 years in hopes of finally uncovering its secrets.
“Somebody has to keep these records. Regardless of what they say, I just write it down. I don’t say, ‘Well, maybe, did you see this?’” he told the Flathead Beacon.
With the urban legend mystifying residents for over a hundred years, many believe the legend is just a hoax. But with several unique aquatic flora and fauna in the Flathead area, who’s to say it might not also be home to a large, scaly friend from an age long past?