Lair of the Beasts: Inventing Lake Monsters (

By:Nick Redfern
Date: Saturday, July 06, 2013

Is it possible that at least some tales of lake monsters are not all that they initially appear to be? In fact, might they actually be the results of rumors spread by military agencies – rumors designed to deflect interest away from far more down to earth, but highly secret, operations? 

Maybe it’s not such a far-fetched theory, after all. For evidence of just one such case of several on record, we have to turn our attentions to the curious saga of Paddler. The beast is the alleged resident, legendary lake monster of Idaho’s huge Lake Pend Oreille, which is more than forty miles in length and in excess of 1,000 feet deep. 

For years, sightings have been made of what gives every appearance of being a large, muscular beast snaking along the deep waters of the lake. Does Scotland’s Loch Ness have a rival? Maybe it does. On the other hand, Paddler just might be far stranger than anything that has ever surfaced out of that famous Scottish loch.

For example, on Memorial Day 1985, Julie Green and a group of friends were out on the lake when they encountered an impressively sized v-shaped wake, only two hundred yards or so ahead of their boat. Not only that: Green, exhibiting a high degree of gumption, gave chase and caught sight of a gun-metal-colored object sailing along, partially obscured by the waves. 

It was just another day in the saga of Paddler, which dates back to the Second World War. On this matter, Patrick Huyghe, a well respected authority on all things supernatural and mysterious, and someone who has carried out a great deal of research into the saga of Paddler, notes: 

“The very first mention of the Paddler came straight from the Navy’s own Farragut Naval Training Station, established on the southwestern end of Lake Pend Oreille in 1942.”

Was the U.S. Navy, of the Second World War, deliberately spreading spurious monster tales in Lake Pend Oreille as a means to hide the truth concerning something far more significant in the lake? Yes, very possibly it was.

In the wake of the terrible attack by Japanese forces on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the Farragut Naval Training Station was established on the lake, from where almost 300,000 American sailors received their basic training. 

Then, after the war was over, the lake became the regular site for underwater experiments undertaken by the Navy’s Acoustic Research Detachment, which still exists, in the Farragut State Park, on the south side of the lake. Interestingly, today, the ARD confirm that: “Unique experimental hardware and floating platforms have been developed” on the lake. 

The ARD add add that: “future plans include continuation of sonar dome development and submarine silencing and target strength reduction experiments using large-scaled models [Author’s note: all above-italics are mine].”

Keeping the above firmly in mind, note the following words from Patrick Huyghe: “In 1949 and 1950, a few years after this secret Navy test site opened, the next two accounts of the lake monster appeared in local newspapers.” 

Shadowy, monstrous serpent or a secret submarine or several: no-one really knows. But, perhaps, the very fact that Julie Green’s close encounter of 1985 involved an unidentified phenomenon of a definitively gun-metal color is indicative that Paddler is something very different to what officialdom would secretly prefer we think it is.

Just maybe, sometimes, a lake-monster is actually a classified, military craft!

Nick Redfern is the author of many books, including Monster Files, Monster Diary, and There’s something in the Woods.