BUTTE, MT - Did you know that, lying in the depths of a Montana lake, is a 20 to 40 foot long lake monster, waiting to snatch up your friends, your family, and...maybe...even your soul? Or she's just looking to save your life.

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Or so, the legend goes. What is the story of the popular—but seldom spoken about—legend about the Flathead Lake Monster? Who has seen the creature? What do the experts say? We answer these questions and more as we investigate the legend of Flessie, Montana's very own (and beloved) lake monster.

The Origin Story

The origins of the spooky tale go back to the Indigenous Tribe of the Kutenai, who were said to inhabit a small island on what was later known as Flathead Lake. One particularly cold winter, the tribe members had decided to trek across the frozen lake in search of their old camp, when two girls happened to look across the ice and noticed a pair of antlers shooting up out of the ice. Assuming the antlers belonged to an animal frozen in the ice, the girls attempted to harvest the antlers—only to awaken the terrifying, never-before-seen lake monster from its slumber. The girls managed to save themselves, but, due to the immense size of the creature, half of the tribe perished in the waters of the lake—opened up by the monster. From that point on, the Kutenai never strayed too far into the open waters...

And so the legend remained...until, centuries later, white settlers made their way to the lake.

In 1889, Captain James C. Kerr and over 100 passengers aboard the lake steamboat U.S. Grant reported seeing a large, whale-like creature in the water. One passenger shot at the poor creature, sending it to flee underwater for safety. Eyewitnesses typically describing an eel-shaped beast between 20 to 40 feet long, dark in color, and with large, dark eyes.

Further Accounts


Admittedly, anecdotal accounts vary widely. However, one notable story from 1955 involved C. Leslie Griffith, who caught a 7.5-foot-long, 181-pound white sturgeon near Cromwell Island, which many skeptics believe could explain some of the monster sightings. In another account from 2017, Cindy Johnson’s three-year-old son Andrew reportedly claimed that the Flathead Lake Monster lifted him out of the water after he fell in. "The Flathead monster lifted me up," he said.

Since then, sightings have been reported every year, amounting to about 113 sightings total.

Experts, Shm-experts

Unsurprisingly, experts remain skeptical about the existence of the Flathead Lake Monster. Many biologists and researchers attribute the sightings to natural phenomena, misidentifications, or exaggerated tales. Large fish like sturgeons, wave action, and floating logs are often cited as possible explanations.

Plausible Theory

Contradicting the claims of the experts, many still add fuel to the monster fire. Theories, sightings, and memorials are still coming out all the time. In fact, some suggest that the creature could be a remnant from prehistoric times. A few imaginative paleontologists have proposed the possibility of a plesiosaur, an aquatic reptile from the Early Jurassic period, surviving in the lake. However, this theory is widely regarded as implausible due to the extinction of such creatures millions of years ago. We remain open-minded, though...

Flessie may still be out there...

The legend of the Flathead Lake Monster, or Flessie as she should be referred to as, continues to be a popping urban legend in the Treasure State. To commemorate this enduring mystery, a statue of the Flathead Lake Monster is set to be unveiled in July. The statue aims to celebrate the local folklore and attract tourists eager to learn more about Montana's very own Loch Ness Monster. Whether seen as a mythical creature or an interesting local legend, the Flathead Lake Monster remains a beloved and mysterious part of Montana's history.

So, remember that next time you're floating on Flathead Lake, you might be watched, just beneath the surface...

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