MIFFLIN, Ohio – In a glass frame behind the counter at Charles Mill Lake Marina, a story is displayed for visitors to read.
The tale is not that of a monstrous catfish caught at the dam, though some might claim it's a fishy story. Others might call it "childish" or simply a work of fiction.
It is the tale of the Charles Mill Lake Monster, an amphibious cryptid that allegedly once terrorized the lake and its inhabitants.
Dating to 1959, the monster is described as a “huge, ‘armless’ humanoid with luminous, green eyes and large webbed feet,” according to a story written by former reporter Rob Morphy on americanmonsters.com, which he co-created with Marc Storrs.
Attempts to contact Morphy for comment were unsuccessful.
The most famous reported encounter took place March 28 of that year, when three friends – Denny Patterson, Wayne Armstrong, and Michael Lane – claimed to have run in to the beast. After a quick getaway, the then-teens contacted authorities to investigate the scene on the shores of the lake.
According to the story, the officers discovered a “series of tracks that resembled the footgear worn by skin divers.”
There has been one reported encounter since.
Bob Schraedly, owner of both Charles Mill and Pleasant Hill marinas, said he has never heard too many locals talking about the beast.
“Not really – I can’t remember if someone honestly has,” he said. “It’s something that I wasn’t terribly aware of until I read the sign.”
The incidents occurred long before Schraedly’s tenure, and he said the story seemed to fade over the years. But recently the local legend has resurfaced.
Unlike other cryptid legends, the story of the Mill Lake Monster has names and dates associated with it – something Schraedly said differentiates it from other lore.
In 1985, Loren Coleman, who studies cryptozoology, published a book titled “Curious Encounters,” in which he wrote about the local monster.
“The thing was seen again in 1963 and described as ‘luminous and green-eyed,’” he wrote. “I examined the site of these encounters and can testify to the Charles Mill Lake’s swampy affinities — certainly a good home for a Black Lagoon beast.”
Or another beast.
According to a separate posting on americanmonsters.com, another monster, Orange Eyes, is a large, hairy hominid that supposedly was driven out of a sewer tunnel near a Cleveland cemetery and found a new home at the north central Ohio lake.
“It goes without saying that the legends of the Charles Mill Lake Monster and Orange Eyes have become intertwined somewhat over the years, a fact which is understandable considering that they are both huge, vaguely humanoid beasts that bear self-illuminated eyes and ostensibly share the same habitat,” the story reads. “Nevertheless, the distinctions between the creatures are clear.”
Some people, however, claim the two creatures may be the same.
The first known encounter with Orange Eyes was in 1963 when “a plethora” of witnesses claimed to see the creature.
It was described as 11 feet tall and weighing approximately 1,000 pounds.
Orange Eyes reportedly was encountered two other times – in 1968 and in 1991.
Are the beasts real? Were the “encounters” nothing more than well-thought-out pranks? These questions and others might never be answered.
The legends behind the monsters, however, make for great campfire tales that are shrouded in mystery.