Tacoma’s Loch Ness is an Electrified Sea Monster
Every 60 years or so the tale of Tacoma’s electrified version of the Loch Ness Monster manages to find a way to be told once more.
Here, we present the 1960 retelling of the event that terrified local fisherman in 1893, as found filed away in the Tacoma Public Library’s Northwest Room archives…
Sunday, August 14, 1960
Along Tacoma’s Waterfront
by Pat Winkler
image drawn by Wayne Zimmerman
See any sea monsters lately?
Tacomans don’t spot too many of them. But those seen locally stir the imagination for decades.
The last good dazzler––a hairy, 150-foot long electric monster––pushed its walrus-like head above the local waters on the morning of July 2, 1893.
The six-eyed creature with bands of copper swam toward shore. It spit out long shafts of blue flame. Fishermen on the beaches trembled and fell back.
One of the fishermen told about the fantastic denizen of the deep in the July 3, 1893, issue of the Tacoma Daily Ledger.
He was one of two “Eastern” gentlemen who preferred to remain unnamed. He said they and local boys, Auctioneer William Fitzhenry, H. L. Beal, W. L. McDonald, J. K. Bell, Henry Blackwood, set out on a three-day fishing excursion on the Sound.
“They party,” the Easterner said in an interview, “were all supplied with all the necessaries of life as well as an abundance of its luxuries, though it must not be inferred from this fact that the luxuries played any part in creating the sights seen on that memorable morning.”
Head for Point
“We left Tacoma,” continued the man, “about 4:30 p.m. Saturday, July 1, and as the wind was from the southeast we shaped our course for Point Defiance.”
There they fished with fair success until a wind came up. The fishermen decided to try a fine trout stream emptying into a “Black Fish Bay, Henderson Island.”
The party, said the speaker, camped near the stream that evening.
Shortly after midnight there was a most terrible noise. The men jumped into their pants.
Said the man, “The air was filled with a strong current of electricity that caused every nerve in the body to sting with pain, and a light as bright as that created by the concentration of many arc lights kept constantly flashing.”
Get the Point
Clothes felt like there were made of fine points of needles.
The light and sound came from the bay.
“I turned my head in that directions,” said the sober Easterner, “and if it is possible for fright to turn one’s hair white, then mine ought to be snow white, for right before my eyes was a most horrible looking monster.
“The monster slowly drew in toward shore and as it approached from its head poured out a stream of water that looked like blue flame.”
The black-haired Easterner described the thing as being 150 feet long, 30 feet in circumference with its shape “somewhat out of the ordinary insofar that the body was neither round nor flat but oval.”
Coarse hair blanketed the upper part of the body.
“Its eyes of which it apparently had six, were as large around as a dinner plate…at intervals of about every eight feet from its head to its tail a substance that had the appearance of a copper band encircled its body,” the man said.
Blue flames came from two horn-like structures near the center of the head. The tail was shaped like a propeller.
Two of the fishermen were paralyzed for several hours when hit by the monster’s flames. The two, sprawled on the beach, later recovered.
The monster cavorted around for a while. Birds and insects dropped dead from the electrically charged air above.
Then the demon submerged. Its underwater course could be traced for a ways by a luminous light on the surface.
“I hardly need to tell you that we were not long in getting under way for Tacoma,” said the man. “And I can assure that I have no further desire to fish any more in the waters of this bay. There are too many peculiar inhabitants in them. I am going to send a full account to the Smithsonian Institute.”
Before leaving Tacoma by train the Easterner offered this explanation:
“This monster fish probably receives its power from some submarine cavern of a volcanic origin, which owing to its peculiar construction, and having an extra deposit of copper, it charges…of course, this is merely a theory and I may be mistaken.