Lake Willoughby – Double Crossing Summer 2017: 2 chances of spotting a giant serpent!
Lake Willoughby is a lake in the town of Westmore, Vermont. It is a lake with crystal clear waters, dramatic vistas and, a legend in it’s history.
Lake Willoughby is 5 miles long. It has delightful sandy beaches at both the southern, and northern end. The north beach boasts a lovely .25 mile long beach.
Two rugged mountains overlook the lake at the southern end. Mount Pisgah, one one side, and Mount Hor on the other. Swimming between them, gives you the distinct feeling that someone, or something is watching you, especially when the wind is howling, and the skies are dark, it can feel ominous.
Lake Willoughby was created by glacial action, which carved out a narrow, and deep lake. It resembles a Norwegian Ford. At it’s deepest it is 320ft. It the deepest lake to be entirely contained in Vermont. It also makes it a cold lake, and often a windy lake. The wind funnels down the lake with force, entertaining, when you are swimming with a tail wind, heartbreaking into a head wind.
The Town – Westmore, VT
Westmore, was chartered in 1781, it was granted to Uriah Seymour. It was rugged terrain, with no roads. Eight hardy families settled the area. Early in the 1800’s inhabitants left due to the harsh conditions. The frosts destroyed their crops, and there was a constant fear of attack from hostile Indians.
By the 1830’s settlers returned, to farm, and build mills. The lake once again welcomed settlers. Eventually a road was built in 1850 on the east side of lake, and hotels arrived. People were starting to visit Lake Willoughby, which had long been unreachable. Visitors loved it’s scenery, it’s fishing, and even took steam ship tours to enjoy the lake scenery. Legend has it, some saw a lake monster. The lake which had been largely untouched, now had company.
There are no recordings on how the Lake Willoughby was named. One story is that many years ago a man named Willoughby was crossing the ice with a horse-drawn sled. When the horses broke through, Willoughby and his driver were drowned, and the lake was called Willoughby in his memory. There are no records of an early settler names Willoughby, of course settlers, came and went often without recording in those early years.
Lake Monster or Giant Serpent or Giant Eel?
Both in the 1800’s and 1900’s, there have been reports of sightings of a long dark creature in the lake.
In August 14, 1868, the story of a “lake monster” appeared in the Caledonian newspaper. “It is reported that the great water snake at Willoughby Lake was killed Wednesday of last week by Stephen Edmonds of Newport, VT., a lad of twelve years. Rushing boldly upon the monster he severed its body with a sickle. On actual measurement the two pieces were found to be 23 feet in length.”
According to local folklore, there is an underground passageway between Lake Willoughby, and Crystal lake. One local story goes that many years ago, a team of horses crashed through the winter ice on Lake Willoughby only to be found months later in Crystal Lake..
In the 1950’s a team of divers looking for the body of a man presumed drowned after his boat capsized claimed to see a huge hole in the bottom of the lake and saw eels 8 feet( 2. 6 metres) long.
On September 9, 1986 Audrey Besse of Monmouth Beach, New Jersey, saw an unknown creature in Willoughby Lake. The sighting was filed with the International Dracontology Society of LakeMemphremagog . Her sighting is as follows:While sitting on the “point” near the Wheeler’s Camps beach more than 15 years ago, Audrey, Ann Hauk (her mother), and a friend saw a long, dark, creature with two or three humps in the middle of the lake, swimming toward the south end. Mrs. Besse went for her binoculars and camera, but the creature had submerged before she could use them.
Adventure worthy – time to grab a cap and goggles and go search!
This summer after careful planning, myself, Phil White, observer, and boat captain, and crew, Cynthia Needham are going on the search.
We are picking early summer, when the lake is still cool, and few folks will be venturing in and on it’s waters, to give us the best chances of a sighting of a monster eel, or serpant, whichever it may be!
Swim Day: Wednesday June 28th
Distance: 10 miles
Pilot/ Observer: Phil White
Crew: Cynthia Needham