Thursday, November 17, 2011


Monster of Wallowa Lake Spotted in 1885
Chieftain, Nov. 5, 1885
A Sea Cow
The Monster seen in Wallowa Lake by a Prospector

Photo by Frank Reavis
I guess no one told them there could be a monster there!!
     A prospector, who refuses to give his name to the public, was coming down from the south end of the lake on last Friday evening in a skiff shortly after dusk, when about midway of the lake he saw an animal about fifty yards to the right of the boat, rear its head and neck up out of the water ten or twelve feet, but on seeing him it immediately dived. He ceased rowing and gazed around in astonishment, for the strange apparition which he had just seen, when it raised about the same distance to the left, this time giving a low bellow something like that of a cow. It also brought its body to the surface, which the prospector avers was one hundred feet in length. The monster glided along in sight for several hundred yards. It was too dark to see the animal distinctly. but it seemed to have a large, flat head. something like that. of a hippopotamus, and its neck, which was about ten feet in length, was as large around as a man's body.
     Now this story may have been coined in the imagination of the narrator, but he was very earnest in his recital. However, it is a known fact that there is a tradition among the. Indians that the lake has a big sea cow in it, which on one occasion, many years ago, came up one evening and swallowed a young warrior and his dusky bride as they were gliding over the surface of the lake in a canoe. And to this day an Indian of the tribes who formerly frequented its shores cannot be induced to go upon its waters.
     The lake has been sounded to the depth of 270 feet, and it is a bare probability that some monster does inhabit its unexplored depths.
Wallowa County Chieftain, Bicentennial Supplement
July 15, 1976

Wallowa Lake was formed roughly 9 million years ago entirely by glacial movement that gouged out its basin during the last ice age. The lake sits at an elevation of 4,441 feet above sea level, is roughly 5 miles in length, 1 mile across and about 283 feet deep. Besides being home to many different animals, Wallowa Lake is also the reported home of a large marine creature known as the Wallowa Lake Monster. This beast is described as being a long, serpent like creature, often compared in appearance to the Chinese Dragon, with multiple humps on its back which can be seen when the creature swims along the surface of the water, some accounts also include horns atop the beasts head.

Reports of this creature, sometimes referred to as Wally by the locals, can be traced as far back as the native population of the Nez Perce Indians. The Nez Perce Indians roamed the northeastern corner of Oregon and much of what is now southeast Washington, Idaho and Montana, they made their summer home on the shores of Wallowa Lake. The Nez Perce have many traditions and legends surrounding the mystery of the Wallowa Lake Monster, including one of the most well known involving their chief’s daughter and the son of a rival tribes chief.

As this legend goes the Nez Perce Indians and the Blackfeet Indians were at war when Wahluna, the daughter of Red Wolf, the chief of the Nez Perce fell in love with Tlescaoe, the son of Bloody Chief, the leader of the Blackfeet. One night Tlescaoe made his way to the Nez Perce camp and met with Wahluna, the two stole a canoe and headed across the lake together. The two lovers were about half way across the lake when their respective tribes figured out what happened, both the Blackfeet and the Nez Perce climbed into their canoes and headed after the two. When they meet in the middle of the lake a batter broke out, during which a great commotion in the water stopped the fighting as a giant beast rose from the water, it attacked the canoes and killed all involved.

Another early account of the beast, as told by the Nez Perce Indians, is that of a young Nez Perce warrior who ventured high into the mountains surrounding Wallowa Lake, while climbing the warrior accidentally disturbed the slumbering creature. Startled by the warrior the beast darted down the mountain pass and plunged into the lake. Seeing an opportunity for glory the warrior gave chase to the creature and followed it into the water, his fellow tribesmen looking on in awe. Before the warrior could get close enough to strike, the monster submerged below the surface leaving the warrior swimming alone. Moments passed and the young warrior began to head back to shore, as he swam he was suddenly dragged below the surface and was never seen again.

One of the first documented accounts of the Wallowa Lake Monster by a white settler was published in the Wallowa County Chieftain in 1885. As the article goes, a prospector, who wished to keep his identity a secret, was about midway across the lake when he saw an animal about fifty yards to the right of his boat. The animal reared its head and neck out of the water about 10 feet, paused, then quickly dove back into the water. The startled prospector stopped rowing and gazed around the lake in astonishment. As he looked for the strange creature, the beast appeared again, about the same distance as before but this time to the left of his boat, and this time exposed its body which the prospector estimated to be about 100 feet long. The monster glided along for several hundred yards, it seemed to have a large, flat head and a neck as wide as a man’s body and about 10 feet in length. The creature let out a bellow something like a cow’s and then slide slowly beneath the surface.

Rare sightings of the Wallowa Lake Monster are still reported to his day, though theories as to the creature’s true identity seem to be difficult to come by. A lack of outside theories leads us free to consider a wide array of possible candidates. Despite the creature’s serpent like appearance, the icy water of Wallowa Lake may be too cold for any known reptile species. Fish like giant sturgeon and catfish are often used to explain Lake Monster sightings, as well as giant freshwater eels. With a lack of scientific interest in Wally, the Wallowa Lake Monster, we may be pondering the identity of this creature for many years to come.

The Evidence
There is currently no physical evidence to suggest the existence of a creature like Wally living in Wallowa Lake.

The Sightings
In 1885, a prospector, who wished to keep his identity a secret, was about midway across the lake when he saw an animal about fifty yards to the right of his boat. The animal reared its head and neck out of the water about 10 feet, paused, then quickly dove back into the water.

A woman by the name of Irene Wiggins, who has owned the lodge at Wallowa Lake since 1945, claims to have seen the creature several times during her life on the lake.

The Stats – (Where applicable)
• Classification: Lake Monster
• Size: 8 to 100 feet in length
• Weight: Unknown
• Diet: Reportedly carnivorous
• Location: Wallowa Lake, Oregon, United States of America
• Movement: Swimming
• Environment: Glacial formed lake

1 comment:

Walks-like-a-feather said...

I've heard of a few of the accounts. To the best of my knowledge, two early prospectors supposedly started the alleged Nez Pierce (Neemeepoo) fable c.1850 in a supposed effort to divert competitive prospectors away from their gold dreg claim on the edge of Wallowa lake. The Nez Pierce have heard of the story, but do not give it any serious credence. The later accounts by prospectors and settlers are likewise up for grabs.