Shades of Loch Ness! Horrors of Bigfoot! While we’re at it we might as well mention the renowned Monster of Pyramid Lake. The Nevada Legislature periodically includes it in multitudinous bills and debates long on the merits of saving the oddity. God protect the beast if the legislature ever gets totally serious. One of their laws could spell the end of Pyramid’s miscreation.
Those places have their mysterious monsters but northeastern Nevadans are not to be outdone as noted in the Elko Free Press on July 14, 1911: “While fishing on the Humboldt river a few miles east of Elko a few days ago, G.P. Griffith and Alex Hay had an experience that is still haunting them in their sleep. Both are reliable men and not given to ‘seeing things,’ and their report carries weight with their friends.
“They left town early for an all day’s fishing trip, and had proceeded up the river to where the big dam backs up the river in the Fernald field, just opposite the road on the south side of the stream, near the bluffs. Here for several yards the stream is wide and quite deep. Mr. Griffith said he saw something coming down stream, which he thought at first was a flock of wild ducks, following one another in a long line. Being a sportsman, he was interested in the sight, and stepped back into a clump of bushes to watch them pass, and called to his companion. But to his wonder and amazement, when the object got opposite them, it was a huge serpent, swimming on the surface of the water, with it’s head, or heads, held high and its long, huge, black, glistening, undulating body, gracefully cleaving the pure, limpid, mountain water, the reptile searching the banks of either side for prey.
“About twenty-feet was visible, and the monster had four heads, shaped something like a dog’s head, the body of a black color, and as large as a man’s leg. Fascinated, they watched the huge snake, but as soon as one of them spoke it disappeared on the instant. Mr. Griffith hurriedly left for his gun, and Mr. Hay remained to watch for its reappearance. A few minutes later it again came to the surface and Mr. Hay declares it was at least thirty feet long, with a tail like a fish, and the four heads, showing clearly, but when the man with the gun returned it had gone, and did not appear again, although they waited and watched a long time.
“Since it was seen, quite a number of our fisherman have gone to the place, but no one has had a glimpse of the monster.”
This story was not carried in the Elko Independent and, from that fact, two conclusions can be made. The Free Press editor was pulling a few legs or the Independent chief did not believe in monsters. There are no other mentions of the creature in either newspaper but how could a reporter do a follow up interview with a monster just passing through on its way to the Humboldt Sink? There is the possibility the phenomenon might have left some offspring that, at this very moment, might be frolicking in the mud of the Sink.
Unquestionably, it would be a kind act to initiate protection for them but a great deal of interest could be lost in the hassle of environmental impact statements, surveys, new laws and regulations, and all that state agency red tape. Then, if the federal government got involved, who knows what might happen? By then the old gray monster wouldn’t be what it used to be. Let’s keep it a secret. After all, not many places have a lusus naturae they can call their own.
This story was taken from Howard Hickson’s Histories. Howard is Director Emeritus of the Northeastern Nevada Museum in Elko and his stories are true about Northeastern Nevada’s colorful past, written with wry humor and keen insight into the sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, sometimes downright eerie lives of cowboys, miners, and gamblers, villains and saints and men and women of both extremes, who’ve inhabited or passed through the region. The collection is a cultural treasure that Great Basin College has generously made available to the world via the Internet, for more information about Howard Hickson or to view more of his stories please visit http://www.gbcnv.edu/hickson/index.html.