Monday, December 19, 2016
Great Salt Lake, 1877: 'A Monster Story"
The Great Salt Lake, as seen from the northern tip of Fremont Island toward Promontory Point.
By Lynn Arave
DOES the Great Salt Lake harbor a large monster?
If it does, he rarely gets out. The ONLY time he was ever seen was on the night of July 8th of 1877.
According to the Salt Lake Herald newspaper of July 13, 1877, a group of men saw the beast near Monument Point and fled, far away.
Bear Lake, straddling the Utah-Idaho border has had its share of monster tales, but the GSL has just a single story.
Monument Point, where the monster was supposedly seen, is in the extreme northwest corner of the Great Salt Lake. (That's also northwest of Promontory Point.)
The men reported seeing : "a huge mass of hide and fin rapidly approaching and when within a few yards of the shore it raised its enormous head and uttered a terrible bellow."
The men fled to the mountains and did not return until the next morning. Then, they reported finding some overturned rocks, torn up ground and tracks on the shore.
One of the men, J.H. McNeil, said the beast had to be some 75 feet long and was like an alligator or crocodile, only much larger.
The men were night employees at Barnes and Company's salt boilers.
The men had also reported hearing strange noises from the lake just before the encounter.
The newspaper report stated many claimed the sighting to be a hoax, but that McNeil "is a man who veracity cannot be impeached."
-Unlike Bear Lake, the Great Salt Lake is a very shallow body of water. At Monument Point, the lake is only two to four feet deep anywhere near the shore -- and that's when the GSL is at its average elevation of 4,200 feet above sea level. (As of late 2016, the area where this sighting took place is dry, with the lake being down 7 or 8 feet from average.)