The legendary Flathead Lake Monster has captured the imaginations of those living in northwest Montana for over a century. Its mystique is as deep as the waters of Flathead Lake, which is located in this picturesque region. While the creature is often referred to as a “monster,” some prefer to call it a “creature” to give it a less ominous connotation.
The first documented sighting of this cryptic creature dates back to 1889 when Captain James C. Kerr claimed to have seen it while on the steamboat U.S. Grant. In total, there have been 109 documented sightings, with the most recent occurring in the fall of 2017.
Descriptions of the creature are remarkably consistent, with many witnesses describing a creature that is 30 to 40 feet long, undulating through the water, and featuring large steel-black eyes. Witnesses have reported strange wakes appearing in the water, further adding to the intrigue.
Many residents and visitors to the region have had their own encounters with the Flathead Lake Monster. For example, Judge Jim Manley and his wife Julia recall an experience they had in 2005 near Big Arm. Their boat’s battery had died, and as they were waiting for a ride, they heard a strange noise. They saw a creature that matched the descriptions given by other witnesses.
Tami Avison, who saw the creatures as a preteen from her grandmother’s house in Polson, described seeing several of them swimming in the bay. Witness Pam Moriarty, a wildlife photographer, observed a strange wake in the water, followed by a black form with five shark-like fins.
The witnesses, even those who initially hesitated to share their stories, maintain their belief in the existence of the Flathead Lake Monster. In the local culture, the creature is far from a source of fear; instead, it has become an intriguing part of Montana’s folklore. From a pizza named after it at the Cove Deli and Pizza to murals, statues, and even a soda brand in its honor, the Flathead Lake Monster has firmly established its place in Montana’s popular culture. Despite the skepticism of some, the legend of the Flathead Lake Monster remains as deep and enigmatic as the lake itself.