October 15, 2020 by Bret Kramer (aka WinstonP)
Sea serpents and lake monsters have long been a part of folklore. Indeed New England has tales of both (some of which we may get to shortly), but for today I thought we might focus on a different body of water and the creature(s) alleged to dwell within. Today I want to discuss sighting of an unknown creature in the Connecticut River.
The Connecticut River is the largest river in New England and the longest, stretching over 400 miles from the northernmost tip of New Hampshire all the way to Long Island Sound. The river forms the border between Vermont and New Hampshire and in colonial times was navigable as far north as what is now Springfield. Today it is heavily controlled with levees and dams, though environmental programs have returned more sections of it to a less managed state.
Most sightings of a creature in the Connecticut River come from the late 19th century. In September of 1886, two men near Middletown reported a large underwater creature flipped their small skiff and reared its long black head above the water. Later that same day sightseekers from the town who had heard about the encounter witnessed a creature raise up 15′ from the water. The great serpent was estimated to be 100′ long.
Another sighting was reported in 1894 when a farmer from East Deerfield, whose farm adjoined the river reported:
“I looked into the river, and no more than Twenty-Five feet away, I saw a big snake… Its head was out of the water, and its body raised some six or seven feet. At the neck, the snake was about as large as an ordinary man’s leg at the thigh, and the body was as large as an ordinary stovepipe.”Austin Rice, as reported in the Boston Herald
He went on to note that the creature was mostly black, with a stripe on the belly with a head the size of a horse and enough strength to easily swim against the river’s current. When it approached him, the noise of some nearby workmen startled it and it swam off, after rearing up about 10′ from the river’s surface.
There’s a lot of talk about sturgeons and paddlefish, but our theme is cryptids, not “explained-tids”. Modern sighting of such creatures are rare to non existent, but the legends live on.