PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) Lake Champlain is home of a legend -- Champ, the American Loch Ness monster. The serpent was just honored with an Adirondack Coast marker in Port Henry.
Lake Champlain is home to clear water, a diverse ecosystem, and a seldom seen lake monster. "They are seen as just vertically undulating," said Katy Elizabeth, one of the few who claims to have spotted Champ.
Champ's first sightings date back to the 1800s, and there is a famous photo of him snapped in 1977. He's elusive and protected. Laws in New York and Vermont protect him from predators and encourage people to report sightings.
"Champ is one of those hidden secrets that we only have here," said Kristy Kennedy with Adirondack Coast Visitor's Bureau.
The mysterious monster of the deep received quite an honor Monday -- a Pomeroy Foundation Legends & Lore marker to bring Champ fanatics to the region.
"Encourage people to learn more about this beloved and historical character," said Plattsburgh Town Supervisor Michael Cashman.
"Now they are going to try and find our lake monster. It's something unique and it's something they can tell their friends about. It's something only our area can offer," Kennedy said. She says she ranks among the many people who have not seen Champ. "But I have looked for him, listened to all the stories and read everything that pops up."
"Hope to be in the future," Cashman added.
Meanwhile, Katy Elizabeth is sure of his existence. "Very long, elongated neck with a horse like head," she said. Elizabeth says she has dedicated her life to proving he's in the lake after she spotted him. Unfortunately, she says she didn't have enough time to snap a clear photo during her first sighting, but has taken video and photos since of something off into the distance. She has picked up sounds from the depths of Lake Champlain, that she says scientists have never heard before. "This is a huge lake and to say there is 15 to 20 foot animals in the lake is not too far fetched. We have bowfin, gar, sturgeon."
She spends her days on the water, with her sonar systems and LED lights, using her biology background to aid the search. "People have to keep an open mind because we're finding new species of animals every year. Ninety-eight percent of our oceans are unexplored."
She says even in the age of cell phone cameras, there have been no recent photos because Champ is only up for a few seconds and most people are too shocked to react in time.