Published: 10:30 AM - 10-29-11
SILVER LAKE, N.Y. - In the summer of 1855, a legend turned real and touched off a tourist frenzy in little old Silver Lake.
Silver Lake historian Bob Murphy says "there was a legend from the Seneca Indians that there was a monster in the water."
And on the night of July 13th, two boys and five men set out in a boat on a moonlight fishing trip. A fishing trip they'd never forget.
According to a report in the Wyoming County Times from the day, after bobbing in and out of sight, suddenly, "the SERPENT, for now there was no mistaking its character, the head and forward part of the monster rising above the surface of the water."
It was kind of greenish and about 20 feet long and they eventually went back to shore and reported this.
That report touched off a fire-storm of interest...soon people from all over the world were flocking to the lake and the nearby village of Perry.
Murphy says "It started kind of like a frenzy, and over the next year or so it drew thousands of people here, thinking we had the next Loch Ness monster."
Well it turns out that that sea serpent may have been more about marketing than mystery and the brain child of a hotel owner in Perry.
And that hotel owner, A.B. Walker, was happy to feed the frenzy.
According to Murphy, "they brought in sailors and whalers and harpooners to try and catch this thing. They set up watch towers and Walker and his friends kept spreading the stories about cows that were taken or came up missing from the monster."But the big issue is that despite all of the experts that came to town... The only thing missing WAS the monster. And Murphy explains the simple reason for that?
"The Silver Lake sea serpent is probably the original fake sea serpent legend in the United States."