Just about every body of water more significant than a puddle has a legend that is associated with it. Some are just a little more legendary than others.
Of course, when you think of legends concerning water, your mind is drawn to Loch Ness and its legendary creature, Nessie. But when you think of legends that are a little closer to home, maybe your mind wanders to beautiful Flathead Lake in Flathead Lake, Montana.
The 200 square-mile, 300 ft. deep lake has its own version of Nessie, nicked named Flessie in homage to the monster of Loch Ness. The legend of Flessie dates back centuries, and people today still claim to have caught a glimpse of the legendary creature that lives in the depths of Flathead Lake.
One of History’s Mysteries
The origins of the original legend surrounding the Flathead Lake Monster can be traced back hundreds of years as a story told by the Kutenai Indians. According to the Kutenai, when they first arrived in the area, they inhabited a small island in the middle of the lake.
Two young girls who possessed mystical powers were traversing the frozen lake to return to the island when they spotted what appeared to be a pair of antlers suspended above the frozen water. Wanting the antlers for themselves, the two made their way to the figures, planning to remove them from the unfortunate animal that had met its frozen fate there in the lake.
Once they reached the antlers, having procured a couple of rocks with razor-sharp edges, the girls began to hammer away at the ice that held the antlers fast in place. Suddenly, the ice shattered and broke away, and the antler’s owner, a huge monster, vigorously shook the ice from itself as the two girls peered on in awe.
After the girls realized the reality of the situation they were faced with, being that they had mystical powers, the two quickly transformed themselves into a ball and buckskin target to escape the wrath of the monster they had awakened, but their tribe was not so lucky. The vibration from the monster’s vigorous shaking shattered the ice up to the island, shaking the island. Half of the tribe met their doom when they fell into the icy, cold water. The legend says this is why so few of the Kootenai tribe left, and those who remain, live close to the lake’s shore.
Oh, Captain, My Captain
The legend of the Flathead Lake Monster was revived over a century ago when steamboat Captain James C. Kerr claimed that he and the over 100 passengers aboard his vessel came upon the monster as they traversed Flathead Lake in 1889.
The onlookers initially thought a colossal log was floating on the water as the boat approached. Nearing the object, a creature emerged from the water. The consensus of the Captain and his passengers was that the creature appeared to be whale-like or eel-like.
One passenger was so frightened that he took out a hunting rifle and fired it at the missing-looking figure in the water. The monster then retreated to the deep.
A Face Only a Mother Could Love?
There have been over 100 Flessie sightings throughout the years, typically two per year. Most who have reported seeing Flessie say that she is a 20 to 40-foot-long, eel-like creature with blue-black skin and piercing, oily black eyes.
Others have said that she is closer to 10 feet in length and more of a fish-like creature with a shark fin-like tail.
Others seem to think that more than one monster inhabits Flathead Lake. Some locals believe that there are between three and five of the creatures that live there.
Monster or Motherly?
Though one’s instinct would probably be to fear Flessie if she were to be encountered, some tales say that is the wrong reaction to have towards this seemingly-gentle creature.
One well-known story surrounding the monster is about a young boy of 3 who almost met a horrible fate. He fell into the water, and his mother began to search for him in a frenzy immediately. Just when she had given up all hope, her son reappeared on the river bank.
When she questioned her son about how he got back to shore, he reportedly told her that the Flathead Lake Monster brought him back home.
Most who claim to have encountered the Monster report that she is big but nothing to be afraid of.
The Legend of the Flathead Lake Monster: The Legend Continues
The legend of Flathead Lake continues to this day, and locals revel in the tales. There is even a pizza named after the creature at a local restaurant. Flessie seems to have a hold on both the minds and hearts of those familiar with Flathead Lake.
Those who take reports on the sightings assure those who might be afraid to report due to ridicule that they take reports very seriously and will make sure that your account of the encounter is recorded correctly.
Whether or not Flessie is real or not, we may never know. But we do know that the legend continues to be a fun piece of local lore and Americana.