A massive 700-pound, 10-foot-long, 5-foot-wide sturgeon — affectionately known as “Pig Nose” — has been caught for the second time in two years in the Fraser River, the longest waterway British Columbia, Canada.
The “pig-nosed” character of this fish reminds me of the “Eel Pig” from Herrington Lake, Kentucky. The following is an excerpt from my first book:
Herrington Lake is a manmade lake in central Kentucky, about 30 miles from Lexington. There are tales of a strange monster that lurks in the depths of the lake. Herrington Lake was created by the flooding of the Dix River in the 1920s. Kentucky Utilities constructed the Dix Dam; the resulting reservoir has been used as a source of hydroelectric power for the region. At the time of the construction of the dam, it was considered an engineering feat; it was the largest rock-filled dam in the world.1
Herrington Lake is quite deep. In fact, it is the deepest lake in Kentucky reaching a maximum depth of 249 feet and a mean depth of 78 feet. The lake covers 2,335 acres, the equivalent of 3.648 square miles.2
Herrington Lake is well-known for its good fishing; anglers from all over the Commonwealth of Kentucky flock to the lake each year in pursuit of catfish, crappie, striped bass, largemouth bass, spotted bass, and white bass.
In addition to great fishing, the lake is also known for a creature best described as an “eel-pig;” a strange monster that is 15 feet long and has a distinctive pig-like snout and curly tail. The eel-pig is said to be able to swim at speeds that rival a boat.
Reports from the Early 1970s
The best reports, and most often cited, come from 1972 when Lawrence S. Thompson spoke of what he saw in an interview. Thompson, a classics professor at the University of Kentucky, kept a second home on Herrington Lake. During the four years that Thompson owned his lake home, he had noticed something unusual swimming in the water at various times.3
Thompson never got a good look at the body of the creature. What Thompson saw multiple times was a pig-like snout gliding above the water with a curly tail following about 15 feet behind. The speed with which the creature moved was similar to that of a boat equipped with a trolling motor.4
What was Professor Thompson seeing in Herrington Lake in the 1970s? Was it a monster? According to the professor, the creature was shy, and he also had this to say: “it’s a monster only in the sense that you’d call an alligator or a crocodile a monster if nobody else had ever seen one.”5
The biggest question, when considering the existence of a cryptid dwelling in a manmade lake, is—How did it get there? Professor Thompson offered a theory concerning this; a theory that is a variation of themes presented in this book and elsewhere. Thompson proposed that the mysterious creature might be something prehistoric that has escaped observation and detection. He thinks that its ancestors may have swam up the Mississippi and Ohio rivers millennia ago. Moreover, Thompson said that a monster, or many generations of monsters, could have survived in caves. Once the caves became submerged by the construction of Dix Dam, the creature(s) swam out and now inhabit Herrington Lake.6 Of course this scenario is unlikely, maybe even laughable to some—but as improbable as this theory may be, does the possibility exist?
Other, and perhaps more plausible, explanations exist. One theory is that people might be seeing alligator gar in Herrington Lake. Alligator gar, which are capable of reaching lengths of 10 feet or more, are known to exist in the lake. Alligator gar also have elongated, distinctive snouts—perhaps this could explain the unique, recognizable snout of the eel-pig.
Another scenario that has been proposed is that the eel-pig might actually be an alligator. Although Kentucky is north of the American alligator’s territory, its range has been inching northward for some time—most likely due to climate change. It has been well-documented that alligators, which are not native to Virginia, are steadily inching closer to Virginia’s border with North Carolina.
In February of 1990, Sherri Hurst claims to have seen an alligator in the lake; she even phoned a local newspaper to report her story. Though her story was widely mocked, Hurst has steadfastly stood by her claims. “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it,” said Hurst, who visits Florida on a regular basis and claims to know exactly what alligators look like.7
- “Herrington Lake.” LakeBrowser. Accessed November 14, 2015. http://www.lakebrowser.com/kentucky/herrington_lake.asp.
- LakeBrowser, “Herrington Lake.”
- Joe Ward. “Monster Reported Swimming in Herrington Lake.” Louisville Courier-Journal, August 7, 1972.
- Ward, “Monster Reported Swimming in Herrington Lake.”
- Liz Maples. “Tales Still Surface of Creature in Herrington.” Central Kentucky News. September 12, 2005. Accessed November 14, 2015. http://articles.centralkynews.com/2005-09-12/news/24894105_1_monster-dogs-lawrence-thompson.