In 1900, on Seneca Lake, a deep, glacial, finger lake in New York, Captain Herendeen, piloting the steamboat, The Otetiani, nearly proved the existence of lake monsters. The Captain spotted the creature and decided to ram it with his boat and transport the beast to Geneva. His plan was to wound it and take it in alive if possible. When the boat struck the creature, everyone on board was thrown; when the vessel corrected itself, the monster was floating beside the boat. The impact had broken the creature’s spinal column. Ropes and hooks were used to take hold of the creature to bring it in. Both crewmen and passengers worked to haul in the beast, thought to weigh 1,000 pounds. Unfortunately, the rope around the monster’s tail slipped into the water and the weight on the other ropes was too great—the ropes slipped through the hands of those holding it. The carcass sank to the bottom of the lake.
When the steamship arrived in port, stories of the encounter quickly spread. Professor G. R. Ellwood, a geologist from Ontario, described the creature as a clidastes, a mosasaur that lived during the Late Cretaceous Period.
The monster was described by all aboard in a consistent manner: it was 25-50 feet in length; its mouth was armed with sharp rows of teeth; its head was about 4 feet long and triangular in shape; the creature’s body was covered in a brown, horny substance.