Champ, also known as Champy, is the name given to a mysterious creature that allegedly inhabits Lake Champlain, a 125-mile-long body of fresh water shared by New York, Vermont, and Quebec. Lake Champlain is one of the largest lakes in North America and has a maximum depth of 400 feet. It is home to many species of fish, birds, and mammals, but also to a more elusive and extraordinary inhabitant: Champ.
Champ is described as a large, serpent-like animal with a long neck and a horse-like head. Some witnesses have reported seeing humps, horns, teeth, scales, or fins on its body. Its color varies from dark brown to gray or green. Its size is estimated to range from 10 to 200 feet long, depending on the source.
History of the legend
The legend of Champ dates back to the indigenous peoples who lived around Lake Champlain before the arrival of European settlers. The Abenaki called the creature Gitaskog or Tatoskok, meaning “horned serpent” or “great snake”. They believed it was a powerful and sacred being that could control the weather and cause earthquakes. They also told stories of how Champ could transform into a human or an animal and how it was involved in various battles and romances.
The first recorded sighting of Champ by a European was in 1609 by Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer who gave his name to the lake. However, this claim is based on a fake quote published in Vermont Life magazine in 1970. In reality, Champlain never mentioned seeing a monster in his journals. He did describe seeing a large fish called Chaoufarou, which he identified as a gar pike.
The legend of Champ gained popularity in the 19th century, when newspapers began reporting sightings of a mysterious creature in the lake. In 1819, Captain Crum claimed he saw a monster that was 187 feet long with a head like a seahorse and eyes like peeled onions. In 1873, the New York Times published an article about Champ that sparked a wave of interest and curiosity. In 1887, P.T. Barnum offered a reward for the hide of Champ to add to his circus show.
Over the years, there have been over 300 reported sightings of Champ by various witnesses, including fishermen, tourists, scientists, and even presidents. Some of the most famous sightings include:
- The Mansi photograph: In 1977, Sandra Mansi took a photograph of what appeared to be a long neck and head emerging from the water near St. Albans Bay. The photograph was analyzed by experts and deemed authentic and unaltered. It is considered one of the best pieces of evidence for Champ’s existence.
- The Bodette video: In 2005, Dick Affolter and his stepson Pete Bodette captured a video of an unknown object moving under the water near Oakledge Park in Burlington. The video shows a dark shape with several humps that seems to propel itself with undulations. The video was also examined by experts and found to be genuine and unexplained.
- The Holmes video: In 2009, Eric Olsen and Katy Elizabeth recorded a video of what they claimed was Champ swimming near Button Bay State Park in Ferrisburgh. The video shows a long object with scales and ridges that moves slowly across the surface of the water. The video was featured on several TV shows and documentaries about lake monsters.
Champ is more than just a legend; it is also a symbol of pride and identity for the people who live around Lake Champlain. Champ has inspired many artistic expressions, such as statues, paintings, murals, books, songs, movies, and comics. Champ is also the mascot of several sports teams, such as the Vermont Lake Monsters baseball team and the Plattsburgh State Cardinals hockey team.