June 22, 1902: Captain Claims Lake Superior has a Sea Serpent

On this day in Duluth in 1902, an article in the Duluth News Tribune reported that an ore boat captain claimed a sea monster in Lake Superior was responsible for wrecks near Knife Island. The creature was described as a “Huge Fish of the ‘Electrical’ Variety,” and “an electrical sea monster, larger than a whale,” which made its home in the waters between Knife Island and Devil’s Island. The captain told a story of one night on the lake, when the watchman woke him because the second mate, at the helm, needed him. The night was foggy and the air smelled of “musk.” The mate told him, “Captain, either I have gone stark mad or there is something the matter with this dodgasted compass. [“Dodgasted” is a euphemism for “God-blasted.” — Ed.] It whirls around like a weather cock, until it fairly makes me dizzy and do you notice the odor? It smells as though we had a cargo of muskrats aboard.” Shortly after, some creature began circling the boat, making sounds “resembling the bellowing of a bull…with occasional sounds resembling the screech of a sea lion.” The musky smell grew stronger, and there was a great thrashing—the boat was tossed. The the captain heard a hissing sound and found himself “smeared with some sort of oily substance having a most disagreeable odor, but it was too dark to see what it was.” As the monster swam away, the Captain noticed that the compass needle pointed straight at the beast. In the morning, the entire vessel was found to be covered with that same smelly, oily substance that had been sprayed on the Captain. Curiously, neither the captain’s name nor the name of the vessel nor any of its crew appeared in the article.

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