Cryptid Profile: The Dewey Lake Monster
Dewey Lake, in Cass County, Michigan, is a 174 acre lake with a maximum depth of roughly 60ft and is one of 10 lakes within a 6 mile area known as the Sister Lakes area. Like all lakes within the region, Dewey was (and is) a popular spot to get away to and relax. During the summer, families arrive at their cabins around the lake to enjoy Sandy Shores beach, BBQ with friends, and to fish for bluegill, largemouth bass, and yellow perch.
But in the summer of 1964, the locals and vacationers had a new visitor at their lake. One that was believed to stand nearly 10ft tall, weigh over 400lbs, and was said to have attacked some unfortunate witnesses during an unfortunate night out while in the wrong place at the wrong time. This monstrous visitor to the lake would forever change the memories of the summer of ’64, and would go one to be historically known as the Dewey Lake Monster.
While some locals of the area already had a feeling that something strange was living within the swampy marsh land around the Sister Lakes area, it wasn’t until numerous sightings around Dewey Lake that the creature broke free from the soft whispers of spooked locals and into the center of public consciousness. After word spread that some unfortunate witnesses were attacked by an unknown creature, other witnesses of the monster started to come forward out of the woodwork and report their stories to the local authorities as well. Former Sheriff, Paul Parrish, is quoted as saying “It was one of the strangest times. We investigated it long and hard, but were never able to come up with what it was. But some good, honest, legitimate people reported it.”
Some terrified witnesses claimed that the creature was semi-aquatic and that it lurked just below the surface of the lake during the day, only crawling out during nightfall to stalk the area and look for food. They reported that it had to have scaly skin, large claws like a bear, and both gills and lungs (which, by the way, sounds suspiciously like the Gill-Man from Creature from the Black Lagoon which debuted only 10yrs prior to this incident). Others reported overly exaggerated stories about seeing the monster roaming down their streets in the moonlight, smashing windows and flipping cars.
Then there were the more rational individuals, the ones who stated that the creature was probably more in line with that of a Sasquatch or a skunk ape due to it being already known to locals around the swamp land in which it was thought to reside. Also, the reports of the creature being nearly 10ft tall, walking on two legs, and being covered in dark thick hair more closely resembles a Bigfoot than any lake monster.
Despite not knowing exactly what they were dealing with, heavily armed monster hunters began to flock to Dowagiac in hopes of solving the mystery and adding a new trophy to their wall. Locals began to watch the lake areas and police began to patrol more in hopes of not only catching the unknown creature, but also to help keep the public safe due to the increased number of armed citizens currently running through the dark searching for a monster. Sadly though, the mysterious thing was never caught. But that isn’t to say evidence wasn’t found, quite the contrary actually. Parrish stated that local law enforcement officers encountered many large footprints in the area and that they even took plaster casts as evidence. When all was said and done though, the casts were not that good as the sandy wet soil was not ideal in holding the details of the print.
With no strong evidence of the creatures existence, and with many nights ending without an answer to the mystery, many started to feel the entire thing was merely a hoax. As soon as monster fever started, it had ended. The hunters went back home without a new trophy, and the locals and vacationers returned to Dewey Lake to get back to relaxing. But not everyone feels the Dewey Lake Monster was a hoax as some of the witness sightings had all the telltale signs of a true Sasquatch encounter. The footprints, the hair, the smell of the creature. These were enough to convince many that the monster was real, and that it more than likely returned back to the swamp area.
While there were many over exaggerated and comical reports, and others that came across as just plain fiction, there were some that distanced themselves from bunch. While the below story is not able to be proven as truth (like so many other stories and sightings involving cryptids), it is worth noting as it does not seem to fit the overall theme of many of the reports of 1964.
The story goes as follows. An unnamed witness of the creature stated that he had an up close encounter with the Dewey Lake Monster. The man stated that he was working on a farm in the area doing seasonal work during the summer of 1964. The witnesses states that as the day was coming to a close, he left the other men to go gather some equipment left back by the tree line of the property and to also pick up any garbage that they had missed.
The sun was already in the process of setting when he left towards the tree line, but even though it was getting dark, he knew his work was not done. Once he reached his destination, he instantly took notice of an overwhelmingly powerful swampy smell. The man said that at first, it smelled so bad that he thought he was smelling a broken septic line. Placing his shirt over his nose to mask the smell, the man continued with his task.
By this time the sun had now set and the witness was preparing to return to the farm when he took notice of a large shape stepping out from within the tree line. Instantly overcome by fear, the man took off running back towards the barn only to see the large unknown figure running behind him. The witness stated that he felt like he was going to die.
As the man ran for his life towards the barn, he could hear the unknown thing grunting and breathing behind him. Suddenly, the creature turned to the side and ran off in a different direction. The man not knowing where the creature had gone, continued running towards the barn even though his legs and lungs were about to give out on him. With his speed slowing due to exhaustion, he pushed himself forward. As soon as he reached the property line, his spirits began to rise, he was safe. Or so he thought. With only a few yards to go before reaching the barn, the man took notice of the creature running out in front of him from behind a tractor on the property. The creature had somehow managed to beat the man to the property. The man began to yell out to the other workers for help, and as he did so, he collapsed on the ground from exhaustion. As the other men ran out of the barn to see what was the matter, the creature took off back towards the woods and was not seen again.
So what do you think, was the Dewey Lake Monster real? Or just a well-crafted hoax in order to bring in revenue to town? Maybe, it was both.
-The Pine Barrens Institute
*Image Credit: Wikipedia