Strange True Stories

11 Myths and Mysteries Surrounding Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain is the sixth-largest freshwater lake in North America, straddling the borders of Vermont, New York, and Quebec, Canada. Its shores are home to numerous quaint New England towns and tourist hotspots, and the region brims over with a rich history that stretches back before Europeans settled the continent. It's also a hot spot of weirdness involving ghosts, UFOs, werewolves, mind-control experiments, and a bonafide lake monster. Welcome to creepy Lake Champlain!

This list compiles the wildest, weirdest scary stories from Lake Champlain, which might make you think twice about your plans to vacation in the area.

  • Lake Champlain Is Home to America's Loch Ness Monster

    The waters of Lake Champlain are hundreds of feet deep in some places, and connected to the Atlantic Ocean through a network of rivers and smaller lakes - which provides plenty of opportunity for unknown swimming beasts of all sorts to make their way into the area.  And this seems to have been going for a very long time. There is at least one monster living in Lake Champlain.

    Local Native American cultures, including both the Abenaki and the Iroquois, shared legends of a lake monster with European explorers from the very start. The Abenaki called the creature Tatoskok. And the earliest recorded sighting of such a beast is ascribed to none other than Samuel de Champlain himself, the man after whom the lake is named. In 1609, he reportedly witnessed "a 20-foot serpent thick as a barrel and a head like a horse."

    Encounters with "Champ" or "Champy" (as the monster is now called) continue to the present day, but perhaps the most famous incident occurred in 1977, when Sandra Mansi photographed the monster while she was having a picnic with friends and family.  In the photo, Champ looks an awful lot like his more famous colleague Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster.

    But it's important to note that he's been around a lot longer. Nessie was first spotted in 1933, more than 300 years after Samuel de Champlain's encounter with Champ. So by all rights, Champ should be more famous.  The fact that he's not indicates there might be something nefarious going on, as the next entry in our list implies.

  • The World Expert on Lake Champlain's Monster Mysteriously Disappeared

    Perhaps no man did more to popularize the legend of Champ than Dennis Jay Hall, founder of ChampQuest and the author of two books about the monster. He became obsessed with the Lake Champlain monster as a boy, when his aunt and uncle described to him their encounter with a massive creature that swam under their boat in Plattsburgh Bay.  Since then, Hall claimed to have seen Champ himself no fewer than nineteen times, and for much of his life, he was a veritable one-man PR firm for the creature. He was interviewed by U-Haul in 1999, as part of their Champ-themed advertising campaign (an image of Champ adorns U-Haul trucks from Vermont).

    And then, suddenly, in 2007, Dennis Jay Hall was gone. His website,, went dark. Calls to his old phone number were met with claims they'd reached the wrong person. His email address bounced all messages back to the sender.  Supporters and fellow Champ-hunters were baffled and concerned, for it seemed Hall had simply vanished from the face of the Earth.

    Apparently, he has quietly re-surfaced in recent years, but his whereabouts and activities in the intervening time haven't been accounted for, even by him. Did someone "get to" Hall because he'd come too close to a sinister truth? Did he simply lose interest for a while? Or was he perhaps the victim of a close encounter with another paranormal phenomenon that's common around Lake Champlain?

  • Two Teenagers Were Abducted by Aliens from the Shores of Lake Champlain

    Lake Champlain doesn't just have it's very own Nessie cousin. It's also a hot spot of UFO activity, including at least two cases of alien abduction.

    On August 7, 1968, two teen camp counselors enjoying some quiet moments at Buff Ledge girl's camp found themselves in a harrowing UFO experience that would haunt them for the rest of their lives.

    It began with a playful light show, including some of the flying objects diving into and out of the waters of the lake.  But it quickly escalated into a night of terror.

    The two teens, Michael Lapp and Janet Cornell, were engulfed by a ray of light that made them feel light-headed and lifted them off the ground.  Michael screamed, "We don't want to go!" before blacking out.

    The next thing they remember was waking up on the same dock, staring out at the UFO. Several hours had passed, which they could tell from the sound of the girl's swim team arriving back at camp from a meet in Burlington, VT. Michael and Janet couldn't consciously remember anything that had happened in the intervening time.

    At first, they said nothing to anyone about their experience. But after years of nightmares, Michael contacted UFO researchers, who put him and Janet in contact with a hypnotherapist. And under hypnosis, they each independently recalled scarily similar details about their time aboard the UFO, which included the taking of fluid and skin samples, along with other kinds of poking and prodding.

    More creepy still, the UFO researcher assigned to their case verified from other witnesses that night that they, too, had seen strange lights over the lake... and two other people came forward with their own abduction experiences!

    But this isn't the only creepy UFO incident associated with Lake Champlain. There's another, arguably much scarier one that happened within just the last few years...

  • A UFO Chased Two People Driving Along the Shore of Lake Champlain

    A UFO Chased Two People Driving Along the Shore of Lake Champlain
    Photo: Ryan J. Quick / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    The New York shore of Lake Champlain has its own history of creepy UFO encounters, too.  One of the most harrowing occurred in 2007, when a couple driving home from Westport, NY, to Port Henry, NY, found themselves the targets of an aggressive flying saucer that terrified them long after the incident was over.

    The craft appeared along a desolate stretch of Route 22, which runs along the shore of Lake Champlain, and terrified the driver so badly, she floored the gas pedal in sheer terror.  At one point, she was convinced they were about to be sucked into the flying saucer, which was surrounded by a nimbus of pitch-black energy.

    The UFO chased them for four miles, easily keeping up with and overtaking their car as it flew at treetop level.  Luckily the couple made it back to town before anything worse could happen, but later they found out from a cousin that a local boy had also reported seeing a UFO in the area that same night.

    Perhaps this aggressive UFO was being piloted by the aggressive creatures from the next entry on our list - who, like lake monsters, are often associated with areas of UFO activity.