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Champ (folklore)

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(Redirected from Champ (cryptozoology))
Artistic Representation on Mansi photograph.
Sub groupingLake Monster / Sea Serpent
Similar entitiesLoch Ness Monster, Ogopogo, Altamaha-ha
Other name(s)Lake Champlain Monster, Champy
CountryUnited States, Canada
RegionLake Champlain

In American folklore, Champ or Champy[1] is the name of a lake monster said to live in Lake Champlain, a 125-mile (201 km)-long body of fresh water shared by New York and Vermont, with a portion extending into Quebec, Canada.[2] The legend of the monster is considered a draw for tourism in the Burlington, Vermont and Plattsburgh, New York areas.

Map of Lake Champlain watershed

History of the legend[edit]

Over the years, there have been over 300 reported sightings of Champ.

The original story is related to Iroquois legends of giant snakes, which the Mohawk named Onyare'kowa.

French cartographer Samuel de Champlain, the founder of Québec and the lake's namesake, is often claimed to be the first European to have sighted Champ, in 1609. The earliest source for this claim is the summer 1970 issue of the magazine Vermont Life. The magazine quoted Champlain as having documented a "20 ft (6.1 m) serpent thick as a barrel, and a head like a horse." There is no evidence that Champlain ever said this,[citation needed], although he did document large fish:

There is also a great abundance of fish, of many varieties: among others, one called by the savages of the country Chaoufarou, "which varies in length, the largest being, as the people told me, 8 or 10 ft (2.4 or 3.0 m) long. I saw some 5 ft (1.5 m) long, which were as large as my thigh; the head being as big as my two fists, with a snout 2.5 ft (0.76 m) long, and a double row of very sharp and dangerous teeth. Its body is, in shape, very much like that of a pike; but it is armed with scales so strong and a poniard could not pierce them. Its color is silver-gray.

The 1878 translation of his journals clarifies that Chaoufaou refers to gar (or gar pike), specifically Lepisosteus osseus (the longnose gar).[3]

An 1819 report in the Plattsburgh Republican, entitled "Cape Ann Serpent on Lake Champlain", reports a "Capt. Crum" sighting an enormous serpentine monster.[4][5] Crum estimated the monster to have been about 187 ft (57 m) long and approximately 200 yd (180 m) away from him. Despite the great distance, he claimed to have witnessed it being followed by "two large Sturgeon and a Bill-fish" and was able to see that it had three teeth and eyes the color of peeled onions. He also described the monster as having "a belt of red" around its neck and a white star on its forehead.[6]

In 1883, Sheriff Nathan H. Mooney claimed that he had seen a water serpent about "20 rods" (the equivalent of 110 yd (100 m) in length) from where he was on the shore. He claimed that he was so close that he could see "round white spots inside its mouth" and that "the creature appeared to be about 25 to 30 ft (7.6 to 9.1 m) in length". Mooney's sighting led to many more alleged eyewitnesses coming forward with their own accounts of Champ.[7]

The legend of Champ captured the interest of P. T. Barnum, and in 1873[8] and 1887,[9] the famous showman offered rewards for anyone who could bring him the monster.[6]

Sandra Mansi with investigators Joe Nickell and Benjamin Radford

Mansi photograph[edit]

In 1977, Sandra Mansi took a photograph while on vacation with her family that appears to show the dinosaur with his head out of the lake.[10] The entire bay of the lake where the photograph reportedly was taken is no deeper than 14 feet (4.3 m). According to Joe Nickell, it is unlikely that a giant creature could swim, let alone hide, in such shallow water.[11] It has been suggested that the object in the photograph could possibly be a rising tree trunk or log.[12]

Champ floating tree stump model

In the book The Untold Story of Champ by Robert E. Bartholomew, it is further revealed that the original photo was sent to Philip Reines, a nautical expert at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, so that he could examine and hopefully authenticate it. Reines quickly realized that the two most vital elements in verifying the photo were missing. Sandra Mansi said that she had thrown away the negative, and that she could not locate where she snapped the photo. Without the negative or location it was impossible to determine with any degree of certainty what was in the photo. Possessing the negative would allow the image to be magnified to see greater detail, while knowing the location could reveal important clues such as the object's size and distance, and whether the photo was even taken on Lake Champlain. Reines could not authenticate the photo and the story behind it led to big questions and potential red flags detailed in his book.

Recent reports[edit]

Champ reportedly can be seen in a video taken by fishermen Dick Affolter and his stepson Pete Bodette in the summer of 2005.[13] Close examination of the images may be interpreted either as a head and neck of a plesiosaur-like animal and even an open mouth in one frame and a closed mouth in another; or as a fish or eel. Although two retired FBI forensic image analysts, who reviewed the tape, said it appears authentic and unmanipulated, one of them added that "there's no place in there that I can actually see an animal or any other object on the surface".[14]

One piece of evidence, though not a "sighting" per se, is the recording of sounds from within the lake by the Fauna Communications Research Institute in 2003, working as part of a Discovery Channel program. The group described the sounds as being similar to those produced by Beluga whales or dolphins—neither of which are known to live in Lake Champlain.[15] An article describing the recordings has been published to scientific literature, explaining that the sounds were likely a form of echolocation despite none of "the known native creatures" being able to echolocate.[16]

Based upon appearance and "mysterious alligatorlike tracks" found near Lake Champlain, cryptozoologists Katy Elizabeth and Dennis Hall suggested in 2016 that "Champ" could be a member of the family Crocodylidae (crocodiles). Researcher Scott Mardis explains that the tracks were likely the tracks of a large snapping turtle and also mentions the longnose gar or the lake sturgeon as more probable candidates for "Champ."[17]

Cultural importance to New York and Vermont[edit]

Vermont Lake Monsters mascot

The Champ legend has become a revenue-generating attraction.[11] For example, the village of Port Henry, New York, has erected a giant model of Champ and holds "Champ Day" on the first Saturday of every August. As the mascot of Vermont's baseball team, the Vermont Lake Monsters, Champ became more prominent after the team was renamed from the Vermont Expos following the 2005 season. Champ has been the primary attraction of the former Minor League Baseball team since their inception, and continues to serve as the Futures Collegiate Baseball League team's mascot. This mascot version of Champ appears as a special guest at various charitable and other functions throughout Vermont. Several nearby establishments, including a car wash, use images of Champ as a logo.[18]

In 2022, it was reported that a feature dramatic film, Lucy and the Lake Monster, was in the works about a young orphan girl and her grandfather looking for Champ. The film is based on a bestselling [19] children's novel with the same title.[20][21][22][23][24][25][26] The production filmed in Port Henry, New York and in various locations around Lake Champlain's Bulwagga Bay in July and August, 2022.[27][28][29][30] The film was in post-production as of May, 2023,[31] with plans to screen in theaters and stream on Netflix and other outlets.[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Caudell, Robin (Nov 5, 2011). "Gordie Little writes children's book". Press-Republican. Retrieved Dec 9, 2014.
  2. ^ "Canada's Lake Creature: Champ". Welcome to Ogopogo Country. Centre culturel Marie-Anne-Gaboury. 2001. Archived from the original on 2005-03-02. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
  3. ^ de Champlain, Samuel (1878). Voyages of Samuel de Champlain. Vol. 2: 1604-1610. Translated by Otis, Charles Pomeroy. Boston, Massachusetts: Prince Society. pp. 215–217.
  4. ^ Mackerel, Horse (24 July 1819). "Cape Ann Serpent on Lake Champlain". Plattsburgh Republican. Vol. 9, no. 17. Plattsburgh, New York. p. 2 – via NYS Historic Newspapers.
  5. ^ "The Search for Champ" (PDF). Lake Placid/Essex County Visitor's Bureau. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-13. Retrieved 2010-04-03.
  6. ^ a b Joe, Nickell (July 2003). "Legend of the Lake Champlain Monster". Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Archived from the original on 7 February 2010. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  7. ^ Hall, Dennis Jay (June 1999). Champ Quest 1999: The Ultimate Search. Essence of Vermont. p. 55. ISBN 978-1-928837-00-8.
  8. ^ Wheelock, J. W., ed. (27 August 1873). "Vermont News". The Green Mountain Freeman. Vol. 30, no. 35. Monpelier, Vermont. p. 3 – via Newspapers.com. I hereby offer $50,000 for the hide of the great Champlain Serpent to add to my Mammoth World's Fair Show.
  9. ^ Staff writer (5 August 1887). "After a Sea Serpent". The Daily Post. Vol. 45. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. p. 4 – via Newspapers.com. P.T. Barnum believes that a huge sea serpent exists, and has renewed his offer of $20,000 for the reptile.
  10. ^ Radford, Benjamin (April 2004). "Lake Champlain Monster". Fortean Times.
  11. ^ a b Joe, Nickell (July–August 2003). "Legend of the Lake Champlain Monster". Skeptical Inquirer. CSI. Archived from the original on 2010-02-07. Retrieved 2010-04-03.
  12. ^ Nickell, Joe (July 2003). "Legend of the Lake Champlain Monster". The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Archived from the original on 7 February 2010. Retrieved 31 October 2010.
  13. ^ Phillips, Adam (21 March 2006). "Is Lake Champlain Home to a Sea Serpent?". Voice of America. Archived from the original on 31 March 2012. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
  14. ^ "Is There a Monster in Lake Champlain?". GMA. ABC News. 22 February 2008. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
  15. ^ "Lake's First 'Champ-Hearing' Recorded". Burlington Free Press. July 2003.
  16. ^ Vonmuggenthaler, Elizabeth; Gregory, Joseph; Mardis, Scott H. (2010). "Echolocation in a fresh water lake". The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 127 (3): 1862. Bibcode:2010ASAJ..127.1862V. doi:10.1121/1.3384449.
  17. ^ Mardis, Scott (Fall 2016). Radford, Benjamin (ed.). "A Champlain 'Croc' of Mythic Proportions". Skeptical Briefs. 26 (3). Center for Inquiry: 4.
  18. ^ "Champ Touchless Car Wash". Champ Touchless Car Wash. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  19. ^ Limon, Janice (June 11, 2023). "Former South Carolina teacher's book to become movie". WYFF. NBC Evening News. Retrieved 11 June 2023.
  20. ^ Jones, Tammy (May 26, 2023). "Meet the Authors of Lucy and the Lake Monster". WSPA "Your Carolina". CBS. Retrieved 26 May 2023.
  21. ^ "Local children's book turned movie". Fox Carolina News. May 22, 2023. Retrieved 22 May 2023.
  22. ^ O'Brien, Kelly (April 16, 2022). "Champ to star in new book and film series". WCAX-TV. CBS. Retrieved 23 April 2022.
  23. ^ "Champ to get top billing in 'Lucy and the Lake Monster' film". Adirondack Almanack. March 7, 2022. Retrieved 24 March 2022.
  24. ^ McKinstry, Lohr (November 14, 2021). "Lead sought for "Lucy and the Lake Monster"". No. Front Page. Press Republican. Retrieved 24 March 2022.
  25. ^ "Indiegogo campaign starts for Champ movie 'Lucy and the Lake Monster'". No. Front Page. Sun Community News. February 25, 2022. Retrieved 24 March 2022.
  26. ^ Hartwig, Melissa (April 15, 2022). "Search for Champ with 'Lucy & the Lake Monster'". AIPT Comics. Retrieved 23 April 2022.
  27. ^ McKinstry, Lohr (July 14, 2022). ""Lucy and the Lake Monster" films in Port Henry". Yahoo News. Retrieved 8 August 2022.
  28. ^ "Lucy and the Lake Monster cast, crew visit Champ Day". Sun Community News. August 5, 2022. Retrieved 8 August 2022.
  29. ^ O'Brien, Kelly (July 19, 2022). "'Champ' movie starts filming in Port Henry's Bulwagga Bay". CBS. WCAX. Retrieved 8 August 2022.
  30. ^ "Cheers and Jeers". Press Republican. July 25, 2022. Retrieved 8 August 2022.
  31. ^ Burnquist, Margaret (May 26, 2023). "Retired teacher's book becomes a movie". Access Carolina. FOX. Retrieved 27 May 2023.
  32. ^ Riddle, Lyn (June 23, 2023). "SC teacher's book becoming a movie that will be on Netflix". McClathcy. The State. Retrieved 23 June 2023.

New Information On Mansi Photo

External links[edit]