In the early 1940s, near Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Lake Monsters—or at least reports of them—began to show up in Lake Pend Oreille. Typically, the sightings were of a large, not clearly visible object moving rapidly through the water. Some of the earliest printed accounts, heavily laced with ridicule, appear in U.S. Navy publications from the Farragut Naval Training Station at Bayview, Idaho, a top-secret submarine sonar research facility.
Monster stories became so frequent that before long locals had given the creature a nickname: Paddler. As North Idaho College professor James R. McLeod told science writer Patrick Huyghe (“Deep Secrets,” The Anomalist, 5, 1997), the navy may have been satisfied with the stories of a monster at Lake Pend Oreille for decades and used it as a cover story for their alleged top-secret nuclear submarine and submarine sonar tests. McLeod and his college-based cryptozoological research group conducted a much-publicized investigation in 1984, concluding that a majority of the sightings could have been of a huge, prehistoric-looking I sturgeon—not native to the lake but possibly an occasional visitor. Additionally, however, McLeod learned, “Every once in a while we would get someone who also saw a submarine, and the word nuclear kept coming up. That started bothering me.” It bothered McLeod because no nuclear subs are ever supposed to be in an American lake.
Idaho anthropologist Duke Snyder says, “I’m inclined to think that a lot of events that occurred on the lake are really the result of navy activity of one kind or another… If somebody begins a story about a monster in the lake, then that’s a pretty handy explanation for strange things that go on. Of course, that raises the question [of] what the heck is the navy doing in the lake.”
The navy denies it has ever used manned submarines or mini-subs in the lake, but in the 1960s two navy contractors, Vickers and the International Submarine Engineering (ISE) groups of Canada, used a mini-sub, Pisces I, to train personnel in torpedo recovery in some American lakes. The very deep Pend Oreille appears to have been one of them. McLeod was able to confirm that the Pisces I was at Pend Oreille in 1965, but his questions to Vickers and ISE have gone unanswered.
The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters,Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature
Written by Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark – Copyright 1999 Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark