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Lake Pepin’s rumored creature may be folklore come to life

Article by: KIM ODE , Star Tribune

The centuries-old legend of a lake creature is alive today thanks to a handful of folks who are driven by scholarship, obsession and the irresistible mystery.

There it … there it is! Over by that fishing boat. No, there! Omigosh, they don’t see it! They must think it’s a log.

Unless it is a log.

Or a catfish. Or an otter. Or a boat wake.

But it also could be a sea serpent. (It could be.)

For hundreds of years, people have glanced across the glistening waters of Lake Pepin, where the Mississippi River widens to a basin as long and wide as Scotland’s famous Loch Ness (the same size!), and seen … something.

Most often, the sight turns out to be a dead tree hung up on a sandbar, or a huge sturgeon breaking the surface, or the wake of a boat unfurling toward shore.

But not always. (Maybe.)

“I firmly believe there was something at one time,” said Jil Garry, who owns Treats and Treasures in Lake City, Minn., a town of 5,000 on Lake Pepin.

Garry sells T-shirts, bibs, mugs and candy depicting a friendly Pepie, which is what everyone calls the (possible) creature. “There were those accounts of French explorers and the newspaper stories,” she said, then shrugged. “But now?”

Larry Nielson, who plies the lake daily offering tourists excursions on his sparkling paddlewheeler, Pearl of the Lake, doesn’t know, either. A few years ago, he offered a $50,000 reward to anyone providing “undisputable evidence that proves the existence of the real live creature living in Lake Pepin,” according to

So far, there hasn’t been a single claim, although he added, half-laughing, that “my wife’s always worried.” No question, the reward is a publicity stunt (and has reeled in some national press) but Nielson also would like some proof because, well, he’s seen “things I can’t explain.”

Such as 11 years ago, on a calm lake, midweek with few boats out, he saw “this wake 200-some feet long and 2 feet high going upstream.” (Upstream!)

Then in 2009, he saw a log in the water — he knew it was a log; it looked just like a log — but then it began moving against the current (against the current!) before slipping out of sight.

Is Pepie real?

“I don’t know,” Nielson said, hands on the spokes of the Pearl’s big wheel. “That’s for you to make up your mind.”

 – ?!”

When Father Louis Hennepin explored this region for France in the late 1600s, he reported seeing “a huge serpent as big as a man’s leg and seven or eight feet long” where the Minnesota River flows into the Mississippi. In those days, the river ran unimpeded from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico — and, in turn, was open from the ocean to Minnesota.

Indians used only strong dugout canoes on the lake, given legends of something large enough to swamp a birchbark boat. Ancient effigy mounds in the region appear to depict huge serpents. Still, we can’t know if they reflect sightings, creation myths or something else entirely, said Chad Lewis, a Minneapolis man who’s written “Pepie, the Lake Monster of the Mississippi River” and maintains

The first known newspaper account in August 1867 was from river rafters from St. Louis, Mo., who reported seeing a large, unknown creature in the water. A more vivid account appeared four years later in the Wabasha County Sentinel, describing “a marine monster between the size of an elephant and rhinoceros,” moving “with great rapidity.”

Four years later, another newspaper described a “dark, strange-looking object” that rose 6 feet out of the water. Another newspaper noted that a huge eel later was caught.

Sightings have continued over the years, with Nielson, the Pearl’s captain, considering 15 to have some degree of credibility, in that they can’t easily be explained away.

Local lore even claims that one moonlit night in 1922, a young man named Ralph Samuelson saw a creature gliding across Lake Pepin and thought, “If a large aquatic creature can skim across the water’s surface, why can’t I?” A few months later, he invented the sport of water skiing.

Except for the fact that Samuelson did invent water skiing, and Lake City is known as “the birthplace of water skiing,” this is almost certainly not true.

Plans are being made for the first Pepie Festival in September, which promises to be the most family-friendly of events.

“When Larry Nielson brought Pepie back to life, some were afraid that people would think we’re dumb, or they’d be scared to go in the water,” said Garry, the shopkeeper. “But we see Pepie as a shy creature. Like we say, if you haven’t seen it, it’s not going to bite you.”

Wait a … wait a minute. Over there, by the far shore, do you think it … um, never mind.

Twenty years ago, Chad Lewis was pursuing a master’s degree in psychology, driven by two questions: What makes people believe in the weird and unusual? And what makes people not believe?

He had ample reason to ponder those questions, growing up near Elmwood, one of three Wisconsin towns (along with Campbellsport and Belleville) that claim to be the UFO capital of the world. But he also had ample reason to earn a living and so became a grant writer, pursuing folklore on the side, writing books and giving lectures.

Those books and lectures proved so popular, though, that he became a full-time folklorist, traveling the world collecting legends and accounts of curious experiences. (It may not hurt that he looks just like actor Sean Penn. Just. Like.)

So, what makes someone believe in the weird and unusual? “Personal experience,” he said, or knowing someone who had a personal experience.

But what intrigues Lewis even more is research suggesting that “the more educated people are, even while they may not believe in something, the more likely they are to believe in the possibility of these things,” he said. In other words, the more we know, the more aware we are of what we don’t know.

He’s always taken a 50-50 stance about the existence of legends, a position he calls “simple, safe and accurate.”

So he was a little stunned a few years ago when, to the usual question about Pepie, he blurted that he was tipping toward 75 percent that something unidentified is in Lake Pepin. What, he doesn’t know.

“But there’s something that’s big, and real.”

It’s a sturgeon. (It’s always a sturgeon.) Until it isn’t.

So what exactly is in the lake, apart from the large- and smallmouth bass, walleye, sauger, black crappie, sturgeon, northern pike, bluegill and yellow perch?

Does it migrate? What does it eat? Does it need to pop up and breathe, or is it a bottom-dweller?

Is it some form of ancient pleiosaur? A large eel?

Is it an alligator gar, which can be 8 to 10 feet long and weigh 300 pounds? Did we mention a gar’s broad snout and double row of sharp teeth? (Did we mention that whether or not such a fish accounts for Pepie, alligator gars really do live in the lake?)

Finally, sightings over centuries speak to reproduction, which means there has to be more than one.


“I love that we haven’t explained this,” Lewis said. “But it’s funny how we need to believe something is out there.” Today, Lewis said he has more questions than answers, which is OK with him.

“The legends, for me, provide the opportunity to have an adventure,” he said, a motivation that he urges others to adopt. While looking for Pepie, or Bigfoot, or a UFO or a ghost — or just an unfamiliar horizon — you may find yourself in a new place, learning new things and moving just far enough out of your comfort zone to discover a fresh context for your life.

Or, as Nielson said, at the very least, you can have a lovely day on a beautiful lake.



Bigfoots attacked tourists in the Ozark National Park, Arkansas

Fort Smith native Ellen (not her real name) tells us a thrilling and frightening encounter with Bigfoot in the Ozark National Park – outside Campbell Cemetery on Tuesday night. According to Ellen, she and her husband Robert decided to find a secluded place to live a couple of days far from civilization and even so that numerous tourists were many miles away.

Therefore, they chose the area of ​​the old abandoned Campbell cemetery, where no one had wandered in for about a hundred years. And now, according to Ellen, she and her husband heard something like an animal growl, permeating the air and coming from somewhere in the thicket. After a few minutes, the growl intensified and seemed to be closer.

“It sounded like some hefty creature had found its lunch,” says Ellen.

However, what slightly frightened Ellen was that their dogs, which always bark at the approach of predators, suddenly shrunk, huddled near the tent and began to whine. Then Ellen and Robert, in order to somehow cheer up the dogs, got out of the tent and also began to growl. But the joke failed.

In response to their voices, the growl from the thicket became really aggressive and began to spread around, from which Ellen and Robert realized that there were at least two creatures. Ellen did not even think about some “Bigfoot” and assumed either large wolves, or even bears, when suddenly hefty sticks and stones flew into the tent.

This infuriated Robert and assuming that some hooligans were hiding in the bushes, Robert gave the command to the dogs to teach the offenders a lesson.

“It was the biggest mistake of our life,” says Ellen and begins to cry.

According to her, when the dogs disappeared into the thickets from there, at first the sounds of a struggle were heard, then one of the dogs uttered such a monstrous cry that Ellen had never heard anything like it in her life. After that, everyone began to howl, whine and scream, and pieces of dogs flew towards the tent.

At first, Ellen and Robert thought that these were big stones again, but when they saw that a dog torn in half had been thrown at them, they came into indescribable horror and, leaving everything, rushed to run. Ellen and Robert went to the police first.

The police found a tent and equipment, but there were no pieces of dogs there, so the couple announced that they were crazy. However, friends told Ellen that something similar happened in the national park last month and we just reported about it.

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What aliens are doing at Loch Ness

What connects aliens to the Scottish lake monster? And why did many eyewitnesses say that a mysterious force prevented them from taking photos or videos of this monster? There are no answers to these questions yet.

Loch Ness, located in Scotland, is primarily famous for its mysterious monster, nicknamed Nessie, which according to various theories is either a huge eel, or a seal, or a prehistoric dinosaur. In turn, some associate the appearance of Nessie with the activities of aliens, and not from scratch.

It is true that strange lights or disc-shaped UFOs are regularly seen over Loch Ness, but there is also an eyewitness story about how aliens landed on the shore of the lake. This happened on August 14, 1971, when the eyewitness Jan Ove Sudberg (now deceased) was 23 years old. Early in the morning, between about 8:30 and 9:30 am, he was on the shores of Loch Ness in the Foyers Bay area.

Suddenly he stumbled upon something amazing and it was not a monster. Sudberg saw a clearing ahead, on which stood an unusual large object, shaped like a huge cigar. It was about 10 meters long, and at the top there was something like a cockpit. Near the object were “pilots” – humanoid creatures.

There were three of them and they were dressed in tight suits, similar to diving. When they entered the object and the object then rose high into the air, then Sudberg realized that he was observing aliens. As the ship gained altitude, it began to slowly fly over the hills towards the nearby Loch More Lake.

The story doesn’t end there. Sudberg was not a Scotsman, he came to Loch Ness as a tourist and flew back to his native Sweden shortly after seeing the aliens. And there a new stage in this strange story began. In Sudberg’s house, unusual phenomena began to occur, a poltergeist, he began to receive mysterious phone calls, and later even Men in Black came to him.

Soon Sudberg contacted the British researcher of anomalous phenomena, Ted Holiday, and told him his story. He also complained to him that he could not photograph UFOs and aliens in the photo, although he had a camera with him. He felt as if some force paralyzed his will and did not allow him to do it.

It is curious that Holiday later repeatedly encountered a similar phenomenon from Nessie’s eyewitnesses. All of them, when they saw the monster in the lake, for some unknown reason, either could not photograph it, or tried, but they did not succeed.

He also found out that much earlier eyewitnesses of Nessie faced this phenomenon. On November 12, 1933, eyewitness Hugh Gray captured a photograph of Nessie, which is considered the first 100% authentic photograph of the Loch Ness Monster.

Gray’s photo shows something serpentine floating in the water. However, few people know that when Gray saw this creature in the lake, he took as many as five pictures before it went under water.

However, only one out of five photographs showed the monster, the rest of the negatives for some reason turned out to be empty.

The conclusion seems to be obvious: the monster in Loch Ness is more than just a large eel, it has some powers to protect it, and in some way it is connected with UFOs and aliens.

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A Briton captured on camera a creature similar to the Loch Ness monster

A resident of British Southampton Steve Challis, during a vacation in Scotland last year, photographed a creature in a lake that looks similar to the famous Loch Ness monster, reports the Daily Record.

Photos were taken during a trip to an excursion to Arkart Castle on the shores of the famous lake. A man photographed the opposite shore when he noticed a ripple in the water. He took some pictures, and then the creature itself appeared out of the water for a moment. 

After that, it disappeared and did not appear again. As a result, the camera recorded the animal in only one frame, which Challis discovered a few months later, when he looked at the quarantine pictures taken during the trip because of the coronavirus.

After the Briton shared a strange picture on the Internet, users suggested that it was the famous Loch Ness monster. However, the photographer does not share this opinion. He does not believe in the monster and believes that the creature he shot was simply a big fish or seal.

Interest in the photograph was expressed by blogger and expert on Nessie Roland Watson, but he suggests that the picture taken by Challis was edited in Photoshop. Challis claims that the photograph is genuine. He drew attention to the fact that the shot he made was completely different from those snapshots of monsters that the network abounds in. At the same time, he is still convinced that he shot just a big fish.

The story of the Nessie creature from the Scottish Loch Ness attracts many tourists who want to see it with their own eyes. According to eyewitnesses, the mythical monster from the urban legend has a long neck and a huge torso. Nessie’s existence is not proven.

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