Tahoe Tessie

Tahoe Tessie is a creature that reportedly inhabits North America’s largest alpine lake, Lake Tahoe, which is located in two states, Nevada and California, and has depths up to 1,645 feet. Stories of the creature date back to the mid-1800s told by the Washoe and Paiute tribes. They claimed Tessie lives in an underwater tunnel beneath Cave Rock.

Witnesses of the creature state varying descriptions. The length ranges from ten to eighty feet long. It has a large serpent-like body with a coloration that varies from black to turquoise. The skin is described like that of a reptile but usually having a smooth texture.

Several notable sightings have occurred in the last 50 years. In the 1950s, it was reported by two police officers that a large black hump rose out of the water and was able to keep speed with the boat that was traveling at 60 mph.

In the 1970s the famous French Oceanographer Jacques Cousteau was rumored to explore the lake and encountered something so frightening that he stated that the world was not ready for what lies below the surface of the lake. He refused to release any underwater footage or data. No credible evidence of this is found.

In 1979 an anonymous witness posted a writing on Weird California’s website: “Myself, along with 3 others watched a large serpent-like creature feeding/hunting in a school of large trout. It was in the middle of winter of 1979 off the dock at Homewood. It was about as big around as a telephone pole and maybe 30′-60′ in length from what we could see of it. It didn’t swim like a snake (side to side). It was diving up and splashing down with its head/neck? into the school of fish, which were leaping out of the water ahead of it. We were speechless for several minutes afterwards.”

In 1980 a 15 foot serpent-like creature was seen by two fishermen below the surface of the water near Cave Rock. Several weeks passed and two divers found a cave in that area, and a creature rapidly exited the cave. Two large fin-prints were found there.

In the late 1990s, a kayaking instructor was teaching some students the art of kayaking. He noticed what looked like a green kayak that had flipped and sank below the surface. He raced over in a speed boat but there was no sign of the kayak. As well, none of the students reported that they had flipped their kayak over.

A photograph was taken in 2004 by an off-duty bartender of a black hump that he claimed was the creatures head.

A family on vacation in 2006 witnessed a large black creature moving up and down in the water. They described it as similar to a sturgeon, but it lacked scales and had a white turned up nose.

The most popular theory of Tahoe Tessie is that it could be either a sauropod Plesiosaur, Pliosaur, Icthyosaur, or a Mosasaur. Fossils of these creatures have been found nearby, in the Nevada Desert and Sierra Nevada mountains.

Other theories say Tessie could be a sturgeon or a new species of eel.

Tessie’s likeness is used for many Tahoe-based businesses, is used in children’s picture books in cartoon form, and is featured readily in local newspapers.

Reported sightings still occur today.

Image Caption: Plesiosaurus dolichodeirus drawing by Adam Stuart Smith. Credit: Adam Stuart Smith/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.5)