The Legend of the Seneca Lake Monster

You’ve heard about the Loch Ness Monster, but did you know that Seneca Lake has a monster legend of its own? It’s true! The Seneca Lake Monster is a legendary creature that’s been said to inhabit the depths of the largest and the deepest of the 11 Finger Lakes. Seneca Lake measures 38 miles and is deepest at 618 feet. Loch Ness is 22 and a half miles long in comparison, so one could only imagine the size of the creature who could live in Seneca’s depths!

So where did this legend come from? For thousands of years prior to European arrival, the Finger Lakes region was home to the Haudenosaunee people, a group of Native American tribes known as the Iroquois Confederation or Five Nations. In the early 1700s, this group expanded when the Tuscaroras joined the Senecas, Cayugas, Onondagas, Mohawks and Oneidas. These Native Americans regarded Seneca Lake to be a bottomless expanse with a monster living deep within its waters, where sunlight cannot reach.

As time went on, the story of this monster was passed down through generations and additional details began to develop. In the 1800s, for example, the Ithaca Journal ran articles of its sightings, giving it the nickname of “Old Greeny”. It scared so many people that they lived in fear of being caught by the monster and refused to go near the water’s edge! 

Folks from around the area have claimed to have spotted the monster at various times but unfortunately, none of these accounts have been scientifically verified. The descriptions of what the monster looks like vary. Some have seen a gigantic snapping turtle or an enormous fish. Others have spotted a long sea serpent or something that looks like it stepped out of prehistoric times. In the 1920s, people started reporting not one but two of these creatures, measuring more than 10 feet in length. In the 1970s, a local professional diver documented a “submerged animal 30 to 35 feet in length” and a local teenage boy described being attacked by a large, eel-like creature. It makes you wonder if these monsters were growing…or multiplying! 

Seneca Lake draws many visitors for its natural beauty, so it’s no wonder that a lake monster might call this place home. Deep waters and underwater springs throughout the lake offer many opportunities for inhabitants of all types to thrive. Not to mention, there are other legends of tunnels connecting Cayuga and Seneca Lake -- the perfect hiding space for a creature of mythic proportions. 

Will you seek out the Seneca Lake Monster when you come to visit the Finger Lakes