Cryptid Profile: The Herrington Lake Eel-Pig
Back in 1925, Kentucky Utilities set out to build a damn by flooding the Dix River, a tributary of the Kentucky River. The resulting dam would be known as Dix Dam and the soon to be created lake would forever be known as Lake Herrington. At the time, the dam was regarded as an major engineering accomplishment as it was the largest earth filled dam at the time. Upon completion of the dam, Lake Herrington filled up and took on a maximum depth of 249ft (making it the deepest lake in Kentucky) and covered 2,335 acres (nearly 4 miles).
Like every large man made Lake in North America, Lake Herrington is known as an excellent spot for fishing. The lake contains a high number of different species of fish including catfish, hybrid striped bass, crappie, and bluegill. But there is said to be one aquatic creature in the lake many fishermen hope to never encounter face to face, a creature known as the Eel-Pig.
Almost immediately after the creation of the lake, people from the surrounding area claimed to see the Eel-Pig swimming within. The creature is most often described as being roughly 15ft long with a body like that of an eel and a skin tone/pattern reminiscent of a speckled fish. It is said to be as fast as a boat at times, and also possess a stubby pig-like snout and a somewhat curly tail which are both seen poking out above the water when the creature is in the area.
While many people have claimed to see the Eel-Pig since the 1920’s, the creatures existence wasn’t thought of as possible until a sighting was made in 1972 by a University of Kentucky professor. Lawrence S. Thompson, who owned a lake home on Herrington, stated that he had seen the Eel-Pig swimming around the area on multiple occasions and that after his many sightings, the species of the creature remained unknown. Upon hearing the news that a university professor had witnessed a monster in the lake, the newspaper The Louisville Courier made quick work of setting up an interview. Asking the professor if he truly believed that what he had seen was a real monster, Thompson responded by saying, “it’s only a monster in the sense that one would call an alligator a monster if they had never seen one before.”
While sightings of the Eel-Pig are said to continue, there have been no sightings as prominent as Professor Thompson’s in 1972. This means that for over 92yrs, nobody has figured out what the monster is or was. There are however many theories as to what the Eel-Pig could be. These range from the always outrageous to the possibly believable. Some people claim that during the flooding of the Dix River, Kentucky Utilities inadvertently opened up passage to a series of underground limestone caves in which this species of Eel-Pig already existed. Others think that the monster is actually a prehistoric relic that originally lived in the Mississippi River but made its way down the Kentucky River while following a food source. The monster then became trapped in Lake Herrington after Dix Dam was built. Both interesting and entertaining theories, but realistically improbable.
Other more grounded theories include possibly misidentified alligator gar or other fish species, a real pig that was seen swimming in the lake and misidentified as a monster, a simple prank that took on a life of its own, or an out of place alligator. While it is easy to laugh off at first, it should be noted that out of place alligators often turn up in unlikely places across multiple states. It is really not that hard to believe that an alligator made its way up the Mississippi River and eventually down the Kentucky River into Lake Herrington. Ample food sources with no natural competition in an area can lead animals down many strange paths that they might not originally go.
While the Eel-Pig may seem like nothing but a local legend or funny story to some, others feel it is a legit living creature that has just not been identified yet. Like most other lake and river monsters, this one also draws a line between believers and non-believers. Whatever it is though, it doesn’t seem to be bothering anybody and simply enjoys living its life unbothered in the cold dark water of Lake Herrington.
-The Pine Barrens Institute