To the Editor:
On Friday evening, July 22, 1892, near sunset, a sea serpent was reported by a man and two boys upon the waters of Geneva Lake. The creature chased the horrified trio to shore, then made its way back out into the lake, emitting loud bellowings, slithering like a great snake, carrying its head out from the water while in rapid transit. Two days later, the Sunday Chicago Tribune ran the complete story and shortly thereafter, Midwesterners became acquainted with the phenomenon.
The sea monster was described as being a snakelike beast 65 feet long and three feet wide at its thickest part with a monstrous head, fierce-looking eyes, a wide open mouth with rows of sharp, hooked teeth and scales on its slender, dark neck. Light green was its breast and belly; sable its tail.
The story acknowledged of the lake’s residents flocking to the shores in groups, standing there by the hour, peering intently over the waters, awaiting the creature’s return.
Fact or hoax? Late 19th Century sightings in Wisconsin’s lakes were abundant. The W-Files, by Jay Wrath, delved into those unexplained occurrences.
According to Wrath, many Wisconsin lakes have boasted of their very own aquatic entity — a sea monster-like reptilian, a sizable snake-ish beast plying through their waters. Wrath affirms that from 1892 to 1902, the Geneva Lake sea monster was witnessed by “reputable” people. and, on occasion, observed trailing in the wakes of the lake’s grand steamboats.
However, newspaper hoaxes were common practice then, to enhance circulation, and most considered “Jenny,” what the oddity was named, to have been that.
In his conclusion, Wrath claims evidence on both sides, specially sighting the possibility of “abnormal” creatures of the time — freakishly large eels or mammoth pedestrian fish and, last, more reasonably, prehistoric survivors of considerable proportions such as the crocodile and alligator.
Seeing is believing, as many respectable souls of yesterday have beheld unexplainable happenings in Wisconsin’s lakes — Geneva Lake particularly, 1892-1902. Those eyewitness accounts of large, wriggling, snakelike creatures atop our waters are undeniable.
When considering those sightings, a hoax is the most plausible avenue to traverse. However, one must fully ponder that not every far-fetched tale ever told is counterfeit.
Truth forever demands verification.
As lifeforms of planet Earth, we need undeniable proof that something inconceivable does indeed exist. It’s hard to fathom the sea monster equation based on the theory of pure hoax alone. Somewhere in there we must interject the variable of “reputable people sightings.”
Personally, I believe there was something genuine that once meandered Geneva Lake’s waters. Call it, if you will, an indisputable USO — or Unidentified Swimming Object.
To an extent, Jenny was real — something beyond mere myth, fairy tale or hoax.
In conclusion, the next time I gaze out over beautiful Geneva Lake, I shall squint somewhat harder, in hopes of catching a glimpse of our famous sea monster of yesteryear. Even one of Jenny’s great-great grandchildren will do.
David J. Nennich