Adirondack Cryptids: Champy vs. Bigfoot

by Adirondack Life | June 2023

Illustration by Jesús Sotés

Lake Champlain Monster

Description: A Captain Crum, who navigated the lake in 1819, told a tale of an almost 200-foot-long black monster with three teeth and a star on its forehead. Sandra Mansi, the photographer behind a hotly debated 1977 image of “Champy,” compared the creature to a dinosaur. 

Sightings: More than 300 have been reported since 1819, including a 19th-century railroad crew whose possible group hallucination was covered in The New York Times. (Samuel D. Champlain’s purported 1609 sighting of a huge critter with sharp teeth and silvery scales seems to have happened outside of his namesake waters.)

Bounty: P. T. Barnum offered $50,000 for Champy’s hide in 1873 and $20,000 again in 1887. There were no takers.

Legal Status: In the 1980s, Champy was given protected status in both New York and Vermont.

Party Affiliation: Champ Day is celebrated in Port Henry each August.


Adirondack Sasquatch

Description: Generations of Adirondackers have described giant footprints and unexplained animalistic screams along with peeks at a massive, furry beast who travels upright through the wilderness—and bolts away when seen.

Sightings: According to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (yes, that’s a thing), there have been more than 40 run-ins with a potential Sasquatch throughout the Adirondacks since the 1960s. The majority of sightings—in the entire state of New York—happen in Warren and Washington Counties. But the organization’s most recently recorded Adirondack encounter was near Gabriels, in October 2022.

Bounty: Our Adirondack-based Bigfoot was never trendy enough to catch the fancy of P. T. Barnum.

Legal Status: Officially, New York State has taken no stance on the care and treatment of wayward Sasquatches.

Party Affiliation: Whitehall’s Sasquatch Festival and Calling Contest happens every September.


Potential Spoiler: The Lake George Monster

In 1904 gawkers swamped the little community of Hague after New York City newspapers ballyhooed reports of a serpent-like creature stalking Lake George. It sounded fearsome, with jagged teeth and flashing green eyes, and it wasn’t shy—sightings piled up day by day. But this monster was destined for the storybooks, not the record books. In 1934 artist Harry Watrous admitted to initially creating the beast, which was controlled with pulley lines, to prank a fishing rival. 

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