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Capture of a "Sea Serpent" in Lake Erie - A Monstrous Hoax!

Lake Erie is said to be home to monsters akin to those seen in Loch Ness, in Scotland. The creature(s) is nicknamed "Bessie" and has been seen in the lake for years.
Does a serpentine monster live in Lake Erie?

In 1931, it was reported that a monster had been captured in the lake!

The New York Times reported:

"REPORT OF THE CAPTURE OF BIG 'SEA SERPENT'
"Two Fishermen Crate Up 'Monster' in Sandusky, Which they Say is Twenty Feet Long
"SANDUSKY, Ohio, July 21 (AP) - Inside a tightly boarded box beside the lakeshore tonight was locked what several persons said was a large marine animal having specifications that might qualify it as a serpent, claimed to have been captured by two Cincinnati fishermen in Sandusky Bay. 
"The fisherman, Clifford Wilson and Francis Cogenstose of Cincinnati, said that the 'serpent,' measuring about twenty feet long and about twelve inches through at the thickest place, arose late today out of the Lake Erie waters beside their boat.
"Although frightened by the beast, they said, they hit it over the head twice with an oar and knocked it senseless, then fastened a line to its head and towed it to shore.
"Their catch began to show signs of returning consciousness when they got it on the beach, WIlson and Cogenstose said, so they obtained a packing box 6 feet long, 3 feet wide and about 2 feet deep and coiled Mr. Sea-Serpent into it and nailed it tightly shut.
"Neither the 'owners' nor any of the scores of curious who gathered about the box would take a chance on opening it to show the serpent to the scoffers, who were numerous.
"Police Captain Leo Schively, E. L. Ways, managing editor of a local afternoon paper, and C. J. Irwin and Mel Harmon of a Sandusky morning paper said that they saw the serpent as it was being boxed up and joined the fisherman in describing it as a huge, snakelike beast, colored black, dark green and white and having a hide resembling that of a alligator.
"The 'owners' were undecided tonight what they are going to do with it.
"The reported capture came after a number of persons had reported sighting a 'sea-serpent' hereabouts."

Had a "sea-serpent" really been captured in Lake Erie? The answer - no. Harold Madison, the curator of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, went to Sandusky and declared that the "monster" was really only and Indian python. Soon, Wilson and Cogenstose had left town.
Indian python head

It is extremely likely that the whole thing was a hoax perpetrated by Wilson and Cogenstose. After further investigation it was revealed that one of the men had family in Sandusky and that they both worked for a touring carnival, which is probably where their "sea-serpent" actually came from.

This post is excerpted from my upcoming book  The Ohio Monster Guidebook: A Look at the Buckeye State's Most Mysterious Creatures. Currently I'm proofing the book and I hope to have it out later this year. Check back later for more on the book.

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