The Alkali Monster

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Nebraska State Historical Society

The Alkali Monster, if it exists, inhabits a very small lake—less than ideal for a large, aquatic cryptid. There are very few reported sightings of the creature, some of which are questionable at best. That being said, the indigenous people of the area are said to have had encounters with a beast in the lake. For quite some time the monster has been well established in the local folklore. According to the Nebraska State Historical Society, author Mari Sandoz (1896-1966) wrote a novelette about the Alkali Monster titled, Ossie and the Sea Monster. The monster is also referenced in a book that Sandoz penned called Old Jules, published in 1935.

Early Sightings

The Alkali Monster gained notoriety in 1923 when J. A. Johnson had an encounter with the beast. Johnson’s story was told by the newspaper, The Omaha World-Herald. According to Johnson, he and two friends saw the massive animal while camping by the lake. The beast was said to have been about 20 yards from the campers when they observed it. According to Johnson, when the creature noticed the men, it let out a “dreadful roar.” Before it dove into the water and disappeared, it thrashed its mighty tail. The men described the creature as looking similar to an alligator, though much larger. They estimated the length of the animal to be 40 feet, and it was dull, grayish-brown in color. The monster had a single horn that protruded from its head between its eyes and nostrils. Some have proposed that what Johnson and his companions saw was an abnormally large beaver.2 This would be quite the case of misidentification! I find it easier to believe that Johnson made the story up, that the encounter never happened, than to believe that he thought a large beaver was a 40 foot alligator-like monster.

Talk of the Alkali Monster was not confined to western Nebraska. A St. Petersburg, Florida newspaper, The Evening Independent, ran an article titled, “Anglers’ Club to Wage War on Nebraska Lake Monster,” on July 24, 1923. According to the report, a fishing club had ordered a harpoon and whaling gun from a mail order catalogue. Apparently, people in the area had become fed up with the beast. Two weeks before the article went to…. Read more

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