Montana’s Flathead Lake Monster, is it real or is it fake?
Montana doesn't have that many urban legends. There are stories about haunted places and a few Bigfoot sightings, but not much else. While there might not be a lot, there is one that has long fascinated Montana residents. The Flathead Lake Monster.
The legend goes back even before Montana was a state. There is a legend of the Kutenai tribe that says one winter two girls were walking across the ice when they saw two antlers sticking out of the water. The girls started trying to chop the antlers off when suddenly the ice broken open and a monster appeared. They were able to get away by turning into a a ball and buckskin target. From then on the Kutenai tribe stayed on the lake shore.
Captain James C. Kerr is credited with the first reported sighting. He, along with passengers on the steamboat U.S. Grant, reported seeing a "whale like creature." All told there have been well over 100 reported sightings. There are still about 1 or 2 sightings reported each year.
The Flathead Lake Monster is usually described as "eel-shaped" and is reported to be almost 40 feet long. The nick name Flessie is due to it's comparison to the Loch Ness Monster, which the Flathead Lake Monster mostly closely resembles.
A Kind Monster?
One of the stories about Flessie is how he saved a 3 year old boy. The story goes that a 3 year old boy fell into the Flathead Lake, and when asked how he survived his response to his mother was "the Flathead monster lifted me up."
There is a fish displayed at the Polson-Flathead Historical Museum that is a 7-foot, 6-inch, 181-pound, 1-ounce white sturgeon. It was caught by C. Leslie Griffith. Could he have caught the legendary Flathead Monster?
Real or Fake?
Well that depends on your definition of what's a monster. Since Flathead Lake is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi in the lower 48, it's possible a very VERY large fish was living in there. I believe it's mostly stories exaggerated much like how fishermen exaggerate when they say they caught a fish "this big."
In the end I just think it's fun for Montana to have it's own urban legend and for that reason