July, 1870. Passengers on a small steamship excursion on Lake Champlain see a mysterious looking monster near Charlotte, Vermont. All on board give similar, sobering claims.
July, 1873. Crew and passengers of the steamer W.B. Eddy watch a large creature near Dresden, New York, as it swims and vanishes out of sight.
1945. People aboard the S.S. Ticonderoga observe an unusual creature cavorting somewhere near the middle of the lake.
July 30, 1984. The largest mass Champ sighting in history occurs aboard a sightseeing boat called The Spirit of Ethan Allen. Near Appletree Point, the approximate time was around six o'clock in the evening. Between seventy and eighty-six passengers were aboard. The creature remained for about three minutes. Three to five humps surfaced, each about 12 inches out of the water. They estimated the creature to be about 30 feet long. It was described as green-brown and slimy-looking like a frog. It swam parallel with the boat for 1,000 yards until a speedboat approached. The creature then turned 90 degrees and submerged.
Champ, the famed sea monster of Lake Champlain. The stories surrounding this beloved animal of lore add yet another exciting chapter to cryptozoology's continuing mysteries. As with all reported unidentified lake creatures, the sightings of Champ take us far back in history, specifically to the year 1609. Yet earlier accounts exist, those given by the Indians that inhabited the land before the white man came. The tribes that lived near what is now called Lake Champlain were the Abenaki and the Iroquois. Each had their own legends concerning a creature in the lake. The Abanaki called the creature Tatoskok.
Samuel de Champlain, world famous French explorer and founder of Quebec, "discovered" the lake in the 1609, when he was fighting the Iroquois in New York with his new allies, the Huron. With regards to Champ, however, he was not the first European to sight the creature as has been widely reported. Sometime during that same period, he reported seeing a monstrous creature along the coast of the St. Lawrence estuary. A journalist in 1960 inaccurately reported the location as Lake Champlain and yet another "legend" was born.
However, it was in the year 1609 that he did see the creature in Lake Champlain, and since then hundreds have been added to his number. Samuel de Champlain claimed to see an unknown animal, 11-12 meters long and about 30 cm in diameter; dark to mahogany in color, almost black and looking like a giant snake. Of course, this report fits along nicely with the hundreds of others, though many other reports don't describe the creature being "snake-like." There may be a significant explanation for this, which will be touched upon later.
Lake Champlain, on the border between New York, Vermont and extending a little north into Quebec, is almost identical in structure to the many other lakes that are said to be inhabited by mysterious, large creatures. For one, it is extremely wide and extremely deep, with an area of over 490 square miles (it is the fourth largest lake in the U.S.). It reaches 13 miles in width maximum, and is up to 400 feet deep in some places. While Loch Ness reaches an approximate 754 (230m) feet deep maximum, Champlain covers much more area (Ness only has an area of about 21.8 square miles). To put it simply, it is quite possible, scientifically and logically, that unknown animals exist within the depths of the lake. Not only that, animals that most scientists would falsely dub "prehistoric."
If it were not for the Mansi photograph, True Authority would not take such a dogmatic stance that the creature of Lake Champlain is a species of Plesiosaur. Plesiosaurs were a group of marine-dwelling reptiles (they were not true dinosaurs), that ranged in size from the 7-foot long Plesiosaurus to the 46-foot long Elasmosaurus. They possessed deep bodies, short tails, and more than the normal five bones in each finger or flipper (they often had as many as ten bones in each finger). Plesiosaurs are divided into two groups or Superfamilies: those with short necks and large heads, such as Kronosaurus, which are in the Superfamily Pliosauroidea; and those with long necks and small heads, such as the Elasmosaurus or Cryptoclidus, which are in the Superfamily Plesiosauroidea. Nessie seems to be that of the latter.
Though many scientists enjoy to make claims that they know a great deal about Plesiosaurs, in truth we know very little about them, as with every dinosaur ever discovered. Fossils and bones can only reveal to us so much; the rest is simply guess-work. The claim that "Champ would need to come for air every so often" is, to simply put it, just a claim. We know little of Plesiosaur air capacity.
Up to 1992 there have been a total of 180 witness accounts of Champ, and of these, 83 of them mention a long neck with a small head, which is the common description for lake monsters throughout the entire world. Up to a few years ago, the total individual people that claim to have seen Champ number around 600.
Dennis Hall, a carpenter, says he has looked for the famed creature ever since he was 10. He said he was getting into a boat with his daughter, son and father-in-law, when his daughter spotted a creature on June 30, 1985. The creature was about a mile away when it was first seen.
Hall was about a mile from the Basin Harbor Club in Vergennes when the creature surfaced, he said. As he puts it, he didn't even know he was filming the animal until the reality of it set in.
"My daughter yelled, 'Dad, there's something out there,"' Hall said. "I have film of it for maybe 20 seconds. I can't prove it's Champ ... but you can see it raise its neck and then lower it back into the water."
Hall said the creature was about 30 feet long, "but the neck was really thick. I've spent my whole life on or about the lake, and this is the third time I have seen it."
Hall was sitting in a canoe when he filmed the creature, so parts of the videotape are jumbled. Though not strikingly clear, the tape does show an object protruding from the lake and moving across the surface. Hall is so convinced he has captured Champ on film that he has had the film copyrighted.
On videotape, the object appears to have two sections, and at the end of the tape, it appears to dive into the water with a large splash. The object appears to be alive, but because of distance, the videotape is difficult to make out.
According to Hall, after the animal disappeared from view, he chased after it in a motorboat. When he arrived around the bend where he saw the creature disappear, there was nothing there.
"There were no boats, the water was calm, there was nothing out there," Hall said.
Still photographs of the videotape, shot in sequence, confirm that an object is moving and its shape is changing in a snake-like motion as it goes. Hall said he videotaped the creature from about one mile, but the photographs do provide great detail.
It was the third time Hall had seen the creature. He had also seen Champ swimming near the breakwater in Burlington on June 25, from a distance of about 50 feet, in a marsh connected to Otter Creek, during the Spring of 1977.
Joseph W. Zarzynski, director of the Lake Champlain Phenomena Investigation, has been studying Champ for 11 years. He says he has yet to see the creature himself, though he did see the Loch Ness monster in Scotland in the late '70s. He is convinced that there is some kind of large creature living in Lake Champlain. But, as should be the knowledge of anyone who believes in Champ, there is more than one creature in the lake. As Zarzynski put it himself, "We are talking about animals in the plural. I think we're dealing with 10 or 15 of them, a breeding colony."
Years ago, on June 29, two women called Zarzynski and claimed they saw the creature in the same spot Hall had seen it. Earlier that same day, Zarzynski, Richard Smith and Dennis Hall had been at the spot testing equipment to detect Champ. Hall had suggested to Zarzynski the location, based on theories that Hall had developed.
The women described the creature much as Hall did. Jane Temple and Peggy McGeoch, two workers at the Basin Harbor Club in Vergennes, said they saw Champ while they were at work. McGeoch said the animal raised its head and neck about five feet out of the water. She claimed the creature "was huge, about 36 inches in diameter. I thought at first I was seeing a very large fish jump, but then I saw (what I thought were) two other fish jump behind it. That's when I realized it was not a fish. There were humps ... Fish do not do a ballet in the water."
McGeoch also said the animal "moved like a caterpillar going across your driveway, only it was in the water. I couldn't believe what I was looking at."
According to Zarzynski, Champ, from the descriptions, must be a species of plesiosaur. The Loch Ness monster is also most often explained as a plesiosaur, Zarzynski said. Zarzynski admits there are probably many sightings that are logs or scuba divers, but some people are definitely seeing something out of the ordinary. "We do have America's Loch Ness in our backyard."
Pete Horton of Bridport reported that he spotted a creature in Potash Bay in Addison on July 1. The very next day a similar animal was spotted by two Delaware women near Elm Point in Addison.
“It was definitely not a fish, not an eel and not a snake," Rita Schaffer said. Lillian Cayo of St. Albans said she, her husband, her son, and a friend all saw the creature four times near their house. All the sightings, she said, occurred when the water was calm and there were no boats on the lake. It's quite interesting, because after a while, you notice the same things each time. "There isn't any noise," Cayo said. "I think the creature must know it's a good time to move about or whatever."
She said she looks for the creature whenever possible, but people still question her about the sightings. People ask "What was it you were drinking?"
The physical, actual reality of Champ of Lake Champlain is far greater than what the populace realizes. The state of Vermont passed a bill into law in 1983 which protected the creature from human harm. How much more a reality can you make of an imaginative, mythical animal? Indeed, very little, and as more tests and more expeditions are made to the famed home of Champ, the beloved monster of Vermont, the evidence will only continue to grow until, to the dismay and shock of many, Champ will be added to the growing list of our current animal kingdom.