I am at my local Barnes & Noble today in order to enjoy a lazy Sunday before the work week begins again. When I got here I started looking around for Steve Volk's new Fringe-ology, which I was directed to by the awesome guys and gals over at Who Forted? Anyway they unfortunately didn't have the book in stock (they could order it for me and it will be here in a week![Or I could get the ebook and have it instantly but I digress]) so as I went wondering around to find a place to play on my netbook I stumbled upon this little gem of a book, Weird Carolinas written by Roger Manly.
The book is exactly what it sounds like it would be, a collection of crazy, bizarre, and strange stories from both North and South Carolina. It is in the same Weird US series as stuff like Weird California by Greg Bishop. It seems like it would be nice little reference to have handy. Well while I was flipping through the book I decided to take a look at the cryptid section. I thought I had a pretty good handle on most of the bizarre beasts that were supposed to have been seen in South Carolina. Boy was I wrong. Below I present to you the story of the Lake Murray Monster; Messie.
First sighted in 1933 (for those paying attention at home this was the same year that the modern Nessie mythos had taken the world by storm) by Gilbert Little of Ballentine, SC, the creature gained some notoriety when it attacked Buddy and Shirley Browning, who had been out fishing on the lake with a friend in 1980. Here is their account in their own words:
Buddy Browning: "We noticed something coming out of the water at us. It attacked our boat! It wasn't an illusion, it wasn't an eel or sturgeon. It was unlike anything I ever saw before, and I have been fishing Lake Murray for over 20 years. We never did ever figure out what it was. It was not an alligator. No! I know alligator when I see it!
"It was very aggressive. It came towards the boat like it wanted us to leave. Whenever we came up to near where it was nesting or doing whatever it was doing, it just came up to us. It could've been mating. It was basically on top of the water where you could see it quite well. And leave is exactly what we did.
"I'm not sure if it was a sturgeon, though. I've never seen it since.I did come back that day. Kord and I came on back over here to the house and got the shotgun. We was going to go back after it and claim it! But we never did see it again."
Shirley Browning: "It tried to climb into the boat. Buddy beat it off with a paddle."
After this the creature seems to have popped up every now and then. Evidently it was at such a frequent enough rate that South Carolina's Fish Wildlife and Parks Department opened up a file that was maintained by local biologist Lance Harper. Although Harper never claimed to have seen the monster firsthand, he says that he has no reason not to believe those that say they did. (I'm working on getting in touch with him for an interview so check back later for more on him). Sightings still seem to come in on occasion but nothing quite like what happened to the Browning's.
Like most Fortean things, we are left wondering if they really happened at all or not. Lake Murray has a long history in this area, (one of the training planes for the Doolittle Raiders' was lost many years ago in the middle of the lake, more here.) The interesting thing for me is that as I am typing this I'm about 15 minutes from Lake Murray. So obviously I will be heading over there, not necessarily expecting to see anything but hell you never know right? Be sure to check out my Twitter as I will be posting pictures there from the expedition and check back here tonight for a full report. Until then this is your friendly neighborhood Closet Anomalist saying, 'Remember it's not safe to go in the water!'