Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 14th, 2008
Sometimes when investigating cryptids, it’s not how you ask but who and what you are asking about that gets some more insightful answers. It was a good day in the Pinky expedition journey.
On Thursday, March 13, 2008, besides checking out more wildlife along the St. Johns River and at the Zoological Park of Sanford, I had a major investigative breakthrough.
I decided to stop by the Historical Society of Sanford, to ask about sightings of “Pinky,” the alleged dinosaur of Florida. I was interested to find out if any old news archives might exist. What I stumbled into was more significant.
What I discovered almost immediately was a friendly and open staff, specifically Irma the helpful receptionist and Alicia Clarke, the Curator. I found that fertile ground for exploration existed here, and Ms. Clarke soon put me in touch with famed local author Charlie Carlson, whose Weird Florida is a well-known nationally-published book that quickly sells out at book outlets around the state.
From talking to the colorful and friendly Charlie, I quickly understood what has happened. “Pinky,” which has been used in the cryptozoological literature since 1975, is unused in Florida. What I see has occurred here is a classic “name game.” I totally appreciate the time Charlie gave me, and especially the “lightbulb” moments he assisted me in having.
The dynamic Charlie Carlson is the lightning rod for Florida’s stories of the strange.
In this area of Florida, where I have been concentrating my on-the-water and shore searching, from the Blue Springs State Park (highly recommended) to Lake Monroe and beyond, I found this cryptid is not called “Pinky” but the “St. Johns Monster.” Hiding in plain sight, I feel, sightings have been happening up and down this area of the St. Johns River and being filed in various folders, so to speak.
Charlie shared that he has not been writing about these encounters as “Pinky,” per se, but merely as “lake monster” or “river monster” reports.
Curator Clarke told me than when I asked about “bipedal dinosaur” or “Pinky” sightings, my questions didn’t connect because she has always thought of them as their local lake monster, as she directly said to me, “more like Nessie than Mokele-mbembe.”
Charlie Carlson related that he has written about these incidents in 1997, in his locally published book, Strange Florida (Volume 1).
On Carlson’s website (here), he gives this overview of his book’s contribution. As you read it, you can see that the “St. Johns River” and the 1950s-1970s reports of Pinky overlap:
FLORIDA’S SEA SERPENTS AND RIVER MONSTERS
Between 1955 and 1961, there were numerous reports in Florida newspapers, of a monster in the St. Johns River. The sightings came from a variety of witnesses, some native commercial fishermen, and others from new transplants to Florida. All reported seeing a giant creature, which descriptions fit either a brontosaurus or big manatee-like thing, depending on who is doing the reporting.
Most sightings occurred between Astor Park and Lake Monroe, with the center of the alleged sightings around the Blue Springs area. The Blue Springs area is a prime manatee habitat. One Lake County man claimed to have seen the monster on land grazing on plants. He reported that the monster left a wide, mashed-down, path through the bushes. The animal’s skin was described as gray and elephant-like and very leather-looking. A couple of bass fisherman claimed that the monster had almost tipped over their boat. No reports have surfaced since the early 1960s, but a related story is very curious.
In 1975, a group of pleasure boaters on the St. Johns River near Jacksonville, claimed to have seen a dragon-like creature, that reared its head from the river, then disappeared into the deep water. It was described as having a head like a giant snail, with two horns.
In an old 1891 newspaper report, a sea-serpent chased bathers from the ocean on Jacksonville beach. That marine monster was said to have had a dog-like head and a long skinny neck.
The most bizarre story of Florida sea-serpents was reported by some scuba divers in 1962, off the Gulf coast near Pensacola. In that incident, the alleged monster attacked the divers and over-turned their small boat, and allegedly killed all but one of the men. The surviving victim claimed that the creature had a long, rigid, ten foot neck, like a telephone pole. It had a head with small eyes, but a very wide mouth and whipped about like a large snake.
Evidence of a Florida marine monster was hauled up in 1885, from the New River Inlet. A ship’s anchor brought up the carcass of a creature with a long neck which resembled an extinct plesiosaur, very much like the descriptions given for the infamous Lock Ness monster.
Who knows what lurks beneath Florida’s waters, something to think about on your next swimming trip.
Of course, lets not discount Florida’s gator population, some alligators grow to enormous lengths, and there a several records of gators eating humans, and those are only the cases we know about–perhaps some of Florida’s missing persons have fell victim to a big gator’s appetite. The alligator is truly a prehistoric creature, a living dinosaur, perhaps there are some other prehistoric creatures that still exist, that we don’t know of, and which on occasion rise to the surface of Florida’s waters. ~ Charlie Carlson
Okay, this throws it back to the manatee thread, but today, I have to look into alligators a little more deeply too.