Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Sea Monster of 1883

Humboldt County is widely known for a famous single legendary creature known as Bigfoot, but many do not know that there are other monsters, myths, and legends hiding in the dark corners of the county. A good portion of these stories originate on the banks of the Klamath River and the surrounding river mouth. The local tribes along the Klamath all have stories of creatures similar to serpents, dragons, and mermaids. One such creature is the Klamath River serpent known as knewollek to the native Yurok, Hupa, and Karuk. The knewollek legend lives on today and with serpent sightings as recent as 2012, there just might be some truth to the legends. Myths often originate from real events and happenings and the stories have been exaggerated and improvised to suit the needs of the narrator. Sometimes, as is the case with the native legend of knewollek, the stories often illustrate a moral or cautionary tale, and sometimes were used to illustrate the origin of illnesses and their cures.

In the March 14, 1883 issue of the Eureka based Daily Times-Telephone and interesting story was printed in the Trinidad letter. It details a story about a couple of young boys who were fishing near camel rock and happened upon a gigantic sea serpent while they were "engaged in hauling in all members of the finny tribe" (which I can only assume is a fancy way to say they were fishing). It's head was "erect and raised fully 20 feet above the level of the ocean, while about 70 feet further his tail was seen lashing the water into a white foam". Camel rock is located just south of Trinidad head about twenty five miles south of the mouth of the Klamath River. The beast they are describing is clearly a representation of Knewollek.


Monster white sturgeon weighing 1,100 pounds caught in Canada

Sturgeon have been know to grow to huge lengths. This beast caught in Canada could have had a grandpa that lived in the Klamath river. Giant sturgeon is likely the source of at least some of the Klamath water serpent legends.

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