Yesterday, I was writing up an article about the islands in Flathead Lake, when I came across something I had never heard of before. It was only mentioned in passing, so I knew I had to do a little more research so I could find out: what exactly is the Flathead Lake Monster?

Did You Know Montana Has Its Own Loch Ness Monster?

Yes, according to legend, the Flathead Lake Monster is Montana's answer to the more famous Loch Ness Monster in Scotland.

And it dates back a long time - according to NBC Montana, the first recorded sighting of the Flathead Lake Monster was in 1889, and there have been over 100 documented sightings in the years since. Most of them seem to describe a creature roughly 30 to 40 feet long, usually shaped like an eel, with "steel black eyes." That last part makes me think everyone describing the monster suddenly turns into Captain Quint from Jaws. 

What Started the Legend of the Flathead Lake Monster?

The story of the Flathead Lake Monster goes back even further than its first recorded sighting, though. Wikipedia details its origins as a legend among the Kutenai tribe. According to traditional Kutenai folklore, the tribe was crossing the frozen lake when two girls saw two gigantic antlers protruding from the ice. The girls went to chop the antlers off and take them for themselves, but then the antlers began to shake and the monster emerged from the ice, resulting in half the tribe drowning in the lake. It is said that is why there are so few Kutenai people to this day (the Kutenai total population in the US is just under 600).

Have You Ever Seen the Flathead Lake Monster?

Do you believe in the legend of the Flathead Lake Monster? It's certainly become a part of life in the area - The Cove in Polson named one of their pizzas after it, and a group called the Flathead Lakers - which is dedicated to preserving Flathead Lake in its natural beauty - has a very sincere call for any sightings of the Flathead Lake Monster on their website.

I may have to head up to Flathead Lake soon just to see if I can catch a glimpse of it. Oh, and real fans will either call it "Flessie" or "Flossie," in loving homage to the Loch Ness Monster. Maybe the two are distantly related?

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