What lurks in Crescent Lake? Meet Cressie, N.L.'s water monster
You've heard of Nessie of Scotland's Loch Ness, but what about Newfoundland's Cressie?
You've no doubt heard of Nessie, the monster of the deep, freshwater Loch Ness in Scotland, but have you heard of Newfoundland's very own lake monster?
Cressie, as she's known to locals, is said to live in Crescent Lake in Robert's Arm, Notre Dame Bay.
"It was first sighted in the 1950s and it is still actually spotted by people regularly," said Nicole Penney, an archivist at Memorial University's folklore and language archive.
Cressie is said to be a snake-like creature, but descriptions vary as being anywhere between 20 and 40 feet long, and brown in colour, Penney said.
"It might be an oversized eel," she said.
Fred Parsons said he encountered the local lake monster in July 1991, when he was driving along Crescent Lake.
"It seemed to be just laying on the surface at the time I spotted it," said Parsons. "There's no significant head as such.… It's difficult to say that the head is significantly bigger than the rest of its body."
And Parsons has had lots of other locals to compare notes with over the years. The former school teacher said he knows of about 25 or 30 other people who claim they've seen Cressie, too.
It is certain that eels are plentiful in Crescent Lake, but so are old logs. The bottom of Crescent Lake is apparently covered in wood from years ago when logging took place in the community, and logs do occasionally pop up.
Believers in the giant eel point to a strange phenomenon some locals say can be seen as proof that Cressie does lurk beneath the surface.
"There are large holes that appear in the thick sheet ice of Crescent Lake in the winter," said Penney.
"These holes are often mistaken as the result of tragic snowmobile accidents but divers who have explored the lake to try to see if these holes were manmade didn't find anything. And so people kind of think that maybe these holes in the ice were created by not something falling into the ice but by something bursting out through."
Penney said one of the more recent sightings happened during an underwater search for the body of a downed pilot whose plane crashed into Crescent Lake in the mid-'80s.
"Scuba divers who braved the depths of the lake in hopes of finding the pilot found themselves surrounded by a school of vicious gigantic eels. Their bodies were said to be about as thick as a man's thigh. The eels proceeded to attack them and luckily the divers were able to retreat without getting too seriously injured," said Penney.
"A lot of people believe that these were … maybe Cressie babies."
Parsons said marine biologists conducted an investigation in 2008 to try to find Cressie but the lake was too murky to see clearly.
Like the legend of Nessie in Scotland's Loch Ness, there are both believers and doubters in Robert's Arm.
I tell you, I am a firm believer." - Fred Parsons
What the townspeople all agree on is the benefit of a mysterious creature drawing curious visitors to their lake.
In 1991, the town erected a statue of Cressie at the entrance to the community. A newer version of the statue and a story board are still there today.
"It's amazing how many people stop and take pictures," said Parsons.
There's no photo evidence of Cressie but as Parsons points out, there's no credible pictures of the Loch Ness monster, either.
"You know creatures like that don't stay around for very long, so you get this sighting and it's gone," said Parsons.
He trusts what he and others claim they've seen with their own eyes.
"I tell you, I am a firm believer."