It seems every body of water, every dark forest and every secluded area has its secrets, often with unknown creatures that become the stuff of legends. From Loch Ness to Lake Champaign to the Pacific Northwest it seems every region has its monsters and myths.

Probably the most familiar and the oldest is that of the Loch Ness monster called Nessie found in Scotland. Sightings date back hundreds of years and has brought much tourism to that area. Reports of sightings abound, but few credible pictures can be found. Scientific methods to prove or disprove the legend have been conducted with few results. Loch Ness is one of the largest and deepest, at over 1000 feet, of any freshwater lake. It probably can hide a few secrets, even a sea monster named Nessie, and has to this day.

Lake Erie has "South Bay Besse," first sighted in 1793 by a captain of the sloop Felicity. A contest was ran in later years to name the monster, and Besse, as in Davis Besse, the nuclear power plant near Port Clinton, was chosen.

Besse is described as a snake-like creature a foot in diameter and about 35-40 feet in length, somewhat gray in color. Spotted again in 1817 by the crew of a schooner it was also reported as being dark in color. Another sighting near Toledo in 1817, by some French settlers, found a creature writhing on the beach. The men fled but returned to find the monster gone but marks on the beach confirmed its presence, including a few silver scales the size of silver dollars.

Other sightings took place in later years, even into the 1960s, 80s and 90s. Sightings were recorded in 1985 and 1987. Then in 1990 a family on a fishing trip said they saw a large creature moving in the water ahead of their boat. They reported the sighting to park rangers at East Harbor State Park. Since then it has been sighted by a Huron, Ohio, firefighter, a woman vacationing at Lake Erie.

Of course, experts remain skeptical about the creature, but one has to wonder what exactly did they see? Some sightings have lasted up to 45 minutes and all have described a similar looking creature. So if you are ever near Lake Erie, keep your eyes open as a $5000 reward is out there for anyone who captures the creature alive!

Then there is "Champ" or "Champy," a creature found in Lake Champaign, another deep and large lake here in the states. It also is described as a snake-like creature that measures about twenty feet long. There have been hundreds of sightings, including one by Samuel de Champlain, the early explorer, who saw the creature. There were so many sightings of Champy that in 1887 P.T. Barnum, the circus owner, offered $50,000 to anyone who captured him, dead or alive.

In 1977 a women snapped a photo of Champy while on a picnic with her family. She saw something moving in the lake and described its dark-colored head and very long neck. She managed to snap one picture before herding her children away to safety. Scientists have studied her picture and have decided it is not a hoax, but definitely is some kind of creature. Vermont has even passed a law to protect their resident monster from harm.

In Lake Okanagan in British Columbia, Canada, a creature described as a "snake in the lake" with pretty much the same description as all other lake monsters, has been reported. In 1989 the creature was caught on film and in 2000 two were spotted by a marathon swimmer, swimming near him. The creature's name is Ogopogo and was first described by a native tribe to settlers in the early 1800s.

Another well-known creature, the subject of many myths and legends, is Bigfoot, or Sasquatch, an ape-like creature often seen in the Pacific Northwest. Large and hairy, and reported to be six-10 feet tall, they are said to have dark brown hair and a head similar to a gorilla. Footprints have reportedly been found, pictures taken and reports of sound, smells and actual sightings abound.

Early stories of wild men were reported among peoples who populated the area long before settlers arrived. In 1840 a Protestant missionary recorded stories told by Native Americans about giants who lived in the area and often stole fish from their nets. In modern days photos and tracks have been brought forth, but many hoaxes have been played on people who then report their findings, only later found untrue.

Many sightings are actually of misidentified animals. From the time of these first reports, on almost all of these creatures, they would have to be either very, very old, or there are many of them and are reproducing. One would think if there were large numbers of them, sightings would be more frequent.

It seems all generations have their myths and legends that are handed down, perhaps to delight youngsters with the stories or to perpetrate further belief. After years and years of sightings, one has to believe there must be something out there, but what? However, the myths remain and people spend a lot of time and effort trying to track down the creatures, even on reality TV. But the legends persist and delight new generations who like to believe in monsters and unknown creatures.


Jeannine Roediger has lived on a family farm all her life, first as a farmer's daughter and now as a farmer's wife. She writes weekly for the Times Bulletin and enjoys gardening, quilting, cooking, bird watching and writing.