Posted by: Loren Coleman on April 11th, 2007
A new photograph, above, has surfaced of Idaho’s Lake Monster, Paddler (specifically look at the right hand corner). And I do mean surfaced. This image was taken on March 29, 2007, from Grouse Mountain, Idaho, by The River Journal’s staff photographer Jay Mock and sent to Cryptomundo by “Surrealist Research Bureau” columnist Jody Forest.
Obviously, then, Paddler is the real deal. Paddler, the Lake Pend Oreille Monster, does appear to exist. But is it merely a cover story for the use of Navy submarines or are submarine sightings being confused with actual lake monster accounts?
In the early 1940s, near Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, lake monsters — or at least reports of them — began to show up in Lake Pend Oreille. Typically, the sightings were of large, not clearly visible objects moving rapidly through the water. Some of the earliest printed accounts, heavily laced with ridicule, appeared in U.S. Navy publications from the Farragut Naval Training Station at Bayview, Idaho, a top-secret submarine sonar research facility.
Monster stories became so frequent that before long locals had given the creature a nickname: “Paddler.”
As North Idaho College Prof. James R. McLeod told science writer Patrick Huyghe (“Deep Secrets,” The Anomalist 5, 1997), the Navy may have been satisfied with what has been going on at Lake Pend Oreille for decades and used it as a cover story. In 1984, McLeod and his college-based cryptozoological research group conducted a much-publicized investigation, “Crypto Quest 84,” concluding that a majority of the sightings could have been of a huge, prehistoric-looking sturgeon — not native to the lake but possibly an occasional visitor. Additionally, however, McLeod learned, “Every once in a while we would get someone who also saw a submarine, and the word nuclear kept coming up. That started bothering me.”
It bothered McLeod because no nuclear subs are ever supposed to be in an American lake.
Idaho anthropologist Duke Snyder says, “I’m inclined to think that a lot of events that occurred on the lake are really the result of Navy activity of one kind or another…. If somebody begins a story about a monster in the lake, then that’s a pretty handy explanation for strange things that go on. Of course, that raises the question [of] what the heck is the Navy doing in the lake.”
For years, the Navy denied it has ever used manned submarines or minisubs in the lake, but in the 1960s two Navy contractors, Vickers and the International Submarine Engineering (ISE) groups of Canada, did use a minisub, Pisces I, to train personnel in torpedo-recovery in some American lakes. The very deep Lake Pend Oreille appears to have been one of them. McLeod was able to confirm that the Pisces I was at Pend Oreille in 1965.
Finally, the truth came out. For example, in Spring 2001, the US Navy, in an article authored by one of their own personnel in Vol. 3, No. 3 of Undersea Warfare (“The Official Magazine of the U.S. Submarine Force”), made it clear that submarine models were being used in the lake. See the Navy’s article, now online at: “Small Subs Provide Big Payoffs For Submarine Stealth.”
For more information on the reports of the cryptid Paddler, see The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents, and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep (NY: Tarcher/Penguin, 2003).