The Herrington Lake Monster
Herrington Lake is Kentucky's deepest man-made lake, created in 1925 by damming the Dix river. The lake runs through Boyle, Garrard, and Mercer counties, it's deep waters lined with houseboats and vacation homes, and it's sheer limestone sides giving a small hint of the lost, deep and dark gorge that the lake now covers. The lake itself may be new, but its dark waters may be hiding something ancient and mysterious.
Ever since the dam was built and the gorge completely filled with water, many people have spoken of seeing a strange beast swimming in the water. Described as being about 15 feet long with a pig-like snout and long tail that curls behind its body, this mysterious creature seems content to keep mostly to itself. it has never harmed anyone, and it seems to shy away from people. It's most often seen swimming in the deep waters close to the dam, where every so often its snout will be reported poking up above the surface. The Herrington Lake Monster is also a surprisingly fast swimmer, and there have been reports of it easily keeping up with a speedboat going at full clip across the lake.
In 1972, the Louisville Courier Journal published a tried interview with Lawrence Thompson, a professor at the University of Kentucky who had a summer home on Lake Herrington. H told the paper that he had often seen the creature, and that it appeared to him to be an unknown species of animal that had made its home in the lake, saying that it was only a "monster" in the sense that someone would call an alligator a monster if they had never seen one before.
So what is the Lake Herrington Monster? One possible explanation is that it's an undiscovered species of animal that roams the Kentucky and Ohio rivers, maybe even its way down the Mississippi and all the way to the ocean. In this case, The Herrington Lake Monster probably isn't a single monster, but that a small pod of these creatures was caught behind the wall when the Dix river was dammed in 1925. These creatures have been breeding and feeding in the deep waters of the lake ever since.
One problem with this idea is that Lake Herrington seems to be the only place along the thousands of miles of waterway that those river networks make up where a creature matching this description is ever seen. If there were more of these creatures swimming up and down these miles of river, it seems likely that occasionally one would be seen somewhere other than the former course of the Dix River.
Another explanation for the presence of these creatures in Lake Herrington is built on remembering what the lake was before it was a lake. Kentucky is built on limestone, and limestone means caves. Kentucky is home to Mammoth Cave, the longest discovered cave system in the wold, and hundreds of other caves are scattered across the state, making up miles and miles of underground passageways. In these vast underground caverns flow many undiscovered, underground rivers and lakes containing unknown species of fish and animals.
It's possible that at bottom of Lake Herrington lies the entrance to one of these great cave systems. It's possible that a vast cave system containing some kind of underground waterway was once the home of these creatures, where they swam through an eternity of darkness. These animals could have swum in an underground lake even deeper and larger than Lake Herrington. When the dam was built in 1925 and the gorge flooded, the water could have also flowed into an undiscovered entrance to this cave system, and created a passage for these animals to come and go from their subterranean home. Occasionally one of these animals could swim up from their lake within a lake chasing a fish or some other food, feel the sunlight on its blind snout, and then sink back again below the dark waters.
The existence of an underwater cave system where a colony of creatures spend most of their time would explain why the Lake Herrington Monster is only occasionally spotted, and why no bodies of these creatures have ever been found. Perhaps one day some exceptionally foolhardy scuba diver will discover the entrance to these caves and stumble upon the creatures in their native habitat.
But in the meantime, whatever the Lake Herrington Monster is it seems to just want to be left alone and not to mean anyone any harm. So next time you pay a visit to the lake, find a quiet spot where the waters beneath you are at the deepest, turn off your engine, turn off your radio, and just sit quietly and wait. You may see a friendly snout poking up above the water.