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There is something about the Finger Lakes that suggests the possibility of supernatural and mysterious things. Legends and stories abound of hauntings, spirit rapping, utopian communities, ancient ruins, inexplicable phenomena, extraterrestrial visits and the occasional glimpse of a sasquatch.  Among the most intriguing stories are the numerous reported sightings in the deepest of the lakes of large aquatic creatures: lake monsters.

Each of the Finger Lakes has its own personality, of course, but the big lakes – Seneca and Cayuga – seem to fit within a different, more mysterious category. Their waters are colder, their moods are darker, their waves are bigger. You can travel on boats to and from the sea on these two lakes, and their sheer size seems to hint at the possibility of ancient aquatic megafauna.  Native American Indians believed Seneca Lake to be a bottomless lake, with a monster that lived in its depths. Almost forty miles long each and one to three miles in width, the pitch-black depths of both of them, hundreds of feet deeper than sunlight can penetrate, descend to depths below sea level.

That reports of monsters in Cayuga Lake were numerous, perhaps even routine, in the 1800s can be inferred from a story in the January 5, 1897 edition of the Ithaca Journal.  Incredibly, the piece reported that a recent sighting marked the 69th consecutive year in which there was a confirmed encounter with the monster nicknamed “Old Greeny.” The story went on to recount that members of the newspaper staff had been living in daily anticipation of Old Greeny’s appearance, and had refused reporting assignments that would have taken them near the lake because they were afraid of the monster.The 1897 incident was reported to have been by an Ithaca resident who was driving along the lake’s eastern shore and saw “what he knew must be the large, long sea serpent.”  The story also quoted a ‘tramp’, however, who told a reporter that he believed it to be a muskrat.

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Category: Weird Desk