Millie - Guardian of the Lagoon
Millie - An American Legend or a Real Live Lake Monster?
"Millie" is the common nickname for a creature also known as the "Miller Beach Monster" a member of a rare group of lake creatures who share many physical traits in common. These creatures include the so-called Loch Ness Monster or "Nessie" in Scotland, "Champ" who makes his home in Vermont's Lake Champlain and "Ogopogo" a creature said to inhabit Okanagan Lake, in British Columbia. Classified as cryptozoological animals. the existence of these animals has not yet been scientifically proven nor conclusively disproven. Millie is named after the community of Miller Beach, Indiana where sightings of the creatures are the most common. It is speculated that the inland freshwater lagoons of Miller Beach are the native breeding grounds for a small pod of "Millies." Although Miller's lagoons lack adequate food sources to support a population of large aquatic animals, scientists theorize that these creatures actually live most of the year in the deep, cold northern waters of Lake Michigan traveling to Miller Beach only for their short breeding season during the warm weather months.
Originally the mouth of the Grand Calumet River flowed into the lake at Miller Beach. Now the Grand Calumet terminates in a series of several large lagoons which lay only a few yards inland from the southernmost tip of the Lake Michigan. However it has long been suspected that the lagoons and the lake may still be connected through underwater caverns. The largest body of fresh water in the United States and the sixth largest lake in the world, Lake Michigan is approximately 300 miles long and averages 75 miles across, covering 22,300 square miles -- equal to the combined areas of the states of Maryland, Massachusetts and Delaware! At its deepest point, Lake Michigan is 925 feet (282 meters). The immense size of the lake has helped the elusive "Millies" to remain undetected. It is speculated that "Millies" prey on the large sport fish common to Lake Michigan including Chinook, Coho, and Atlantic Salmon, as well as Rainbow, Brown, and Lake Trout.
Skeptics claim that sightings of Millie in the lagoons are actually misidentified sightings of native lagoon creatures such as beaver, large carp or diving waterfowl. Sightings of Millie in Lake Michigan are often attributed to a natural phenomenon called a "seiche". A seiche is a characteristic trait of many long, narrow lakes with deep channels. Loch Ness, Lake Champlain and Lake Michigan are all endowed with this peculiar feature. A seiche is a perpetual wave in an enclosed body of water, which lies in a geographic area that undergoes severe winters. Changes in spring and autumn temperatures affect the shallow areas of these long lakes more rapidly than they affect the deep channels, causing the deep water to slosh back and forth, between the lake's boundaries, like a plucked guitar string. At the surface, the seiche in Lake Michigan may be barely a ripple or it may grow to more than 30 feet high. Below the surface, a seiche at times may grow to a height of 300 feet!!! It is theorized that sightings of creatures such as Nessie, Champ, Millie and other "lake monsters" documented in these large cold lakes around the world might actually be miss-identification of these these seiches.
The History of Millie:
Millie first appears in the legends of the indigenous people of Miller Beach. The Potawatomi tribes fished and hunted in northern Indiana for hundreds of years.Their legends tell of a creature called the Mnito (also spelled Mneto or Mji-Mnito) fearsome horned serpents that lurked in Lake Michigan and The Grand Calumet river. According to the Potowatomi, Mnito would attack and sometimes eat those unlucky enough to encounter one. The Potawatomi also believed that the waters of Lake Manitou, in what is now Rochester, Indiana, harbored a monster serpent. Potawatomi legends report that the "Serpent of the Manitou" devoured all the fish in the small lake after arriving from Lake Michigan.
The first Europeans to see Lake Michigan were French traders and explorers in the 1600's. One of which, Samuel de Champlain wrote in his log that he saw, "a 20-foot serpent thick as a barrel, and a head like a horse" during his explorations in the 17th Century. Sightings of serpents in Lake Michigan increased in the late 1800s peaking in August of 1867.Between 1867 and 1890, various newspapers reported numerous encounters with sea serpents just off shore all along the Lake Michigan coastline in both Indiana and Illinois. Sightings in Chicago, just across the Indiana/Illinois border, ranged from Evanston down to Hyde Park. The creature was described in newspaper reports as bluish black with a grayish white underbelly, long neck, horse-like head, with a body between 40 and 50 feet in length. On several occasions, the creature was heard bellowing “like a bull.” In the summer of 1867, The Chicago Tribune reported that "Lake Michigan is inhabited by a vast monster, part fish part serpent." That same year a fisherman named Joseph Muhlke encountered a "Millie" a mile and a half from shore near Chicago’s far south side. He was able to provide a very detailed description and claimed that its head came within 20 feet of his boat. On August 4th, 1867 crews aboard two ships, the George Wood and the Skylark spotted a creature off the shores of Evanston. According to the Chicago Tribune, two days later on August 6th, 1867 a "Millie" was spotted one and a half miles off shore from Michigan City, Indiana by Charles Sanger, a justice of the peace. Sanger described the creature as "about forty feet in length of a dark color and resembled a snake in both appearance and motion."
Millie got its nickname in 1884 after a boat builder named Allen Dutcher and a group of local fishermen saw the creature near the marshy mouth of the Calumet River near the small town of Miller, Indiana. One of the most notable "Millie" sightings was from 1917 when a large crowd assembled at Carr's Beach in Miller (today's Lake Street Beach) saw "a black monster" more than "100 feet long with a head that resembled a horse." According to this account, "the creature reared its head and neck more than 10 feet out of the water and made a loud bellow terrifying more than 100 people who were picnicking and swimming at the beach." Millie sightings tapered off in the early 20th century as the Miller Beach area, once sparsely populated wilderness, became developed. Cryptozologists speculate that the local "Millie" population was nearly decimated at this time as commercial fishermen depleted the fish stock and increased heavy industry in the Calumet Region polluted their breeding grounds in the Grand Calumet lagoons. However through the years occasional sightings of Millie continued to occur and have been increasing since the 1970s. There have been 15 reported Millie sightings between 1990 and 2010. Scientists believe that the local population of these rare creatures may finally be on the rebound now that the water quality in the lagoons is improving.
From existing reports, Millie may be endowed with all or some of the following features:
- Between ten and 187 feet long. (however most reports claim between 40-50 feet)
- Flat headed
- Small horns or tubes like a giraffe
- One to four humps.
- Four fins or flippers
- A snake-like body.
- Either drab or shiny
- Dark head with white body
- Dark-brownish olive.
- Large reflective eyes
- Glowing eyes (at night)
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