With Labor Day upon us, we are almost at the end of the Silly Season. Sea Serpent stories and reports often were used to fill out the pages of newspapers during the languid days of summer. I thought it might be amusing to look at some of the representations of the Sea Serpent–artistic and photographic–that illustrated these stories. Here they are, in no particular order. Some will have captions; one or two have stories to go with them.
SAW A SERPENT
The Salt Water Monster Shown Up Near a Summer Resort.
Thousand Island Park, N.Y., Aug. 4. A good all around, genuine bona fide sea serpent has come up from the salt water to enjoy his summer “outing” among the Thousand Islands, and his uninvited and unwelcome presence is causing much excitement in the vicinity. He first made his appearance a month ago but was recently seen near Kingston by four men, one of whom, Charles Staley, makes this statement.
“We were in a yacht near Kingston when we had our attention directed to a peculiar looking object that showed its head about two feet out of the water and then with lightning rapidity dove under and disappeared. It was about thirty inches in circumference, of an eel color, and had a tapered head. Three times it appeared above the surface. After raising its head it would rush through the water and then dive. By the swish of its tail as it lashed the water we were led to believe it must be many feet long. It only kept its head above water a few seconds. It finally appeared among the rocks. It is the strangest animal I ever saw or heard of either on salt or fresh water. Its first appearance created alarm and the people in the locality were scared about going near the water.
Oshkosh [WI] Daily Northwestern 4 August 1888: p. 1
The well-known “Viking figurehead” sea serpent.
This coiled-spring Zeuglodon is one of my favorite sea serpent illustrations. And he’s going after some cavemen in a boat! The headline reads “Bones of an Ancient Sea Serpent Found in Louisiana!”
San Francisco [CA] Call 5 August 1906: p. 2
Mr. Armit’s Serpent [Seen by Mr. Armit, of Leith, Scotland, while on a voyage from Panama to Callao, in July, 1876, from the disabled ship Colombo, of Greenock.]
New York Herald 21 July 1895: p. 3
The skull of a strange sea monster landed at Miami, Fla. The other day, after having been discovered at Soldier’s Key, a few miles south, by Elmer E. Garretson of New York. It weighs nearly three tons, and must have been the head of an animal at least 80 feet long.
Anaconda [MT] Standard 24 April 1921: p. 22
We previously celebrated “Sea Serpent Day” with the obligatory summer resort bathing beauty. Here’s another.
The Washington [DC] Times 26 August 1906: p. 48
The ungainly perspective on this “representation” of a sea serpent makes it look either like Big Bird or something by Hieronymous Bosch.
The Washington [DC] Post 18 October 1914: p. 5
Even Lake Monsters had their day in the Silly Season:
San Francisco [CA] Call 21 November 1897: p. 17
But some Silly Season sea serpents were sillier than others. This was a panel from a children’s comic strip.
When the sea serpent came to the boat Sinbad introduced him to everybody and began sharpening his razor. “The sea serpent comes up every day for me to shave his whiskers,” Sinbad told them, “for they get tangled in the seaweed and bother him if his whiskers are allowed to grow.”
El Paso [TX] Herald 5 December 1914: p. 32
I’ll be taking a Labor Day break until Tuesday next. Have a safe and pleasant holiday weekend. And watch out for sea monsters!
Chris Woodyard is the author of The Victorian Book of the Dead, The Ghost Wore Black, The Headless Horror, The Face in the Window, and the 7-volume Haunted Ohio series. She is also the chronicler of the adventures of that amiable murderess Mrs Daffodil in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales. The books are available in paperback and for Kindle. Indexes and fact sheets for all of these books may be found by searching hauntedohiobooks.com. Join her on FB at Haunted Ohio by Chris Woodyard or The Victorian Book of the Dead.