30 October 2009

Hauntings: Local lore #2


The legend of Devil's Lake
Devil's Lake? I'm surprised at how many people have never heard of this little lake in our area; I happened to have grown up with it. When I was a kid and went fishing with my grandfather he often received permission to fish a number of places on private property. Devil's Lake was owned by an old friend just off of an old Indian trail a few miles from grandpa's farm.

Devil's Lake was really more like a bog or sinkhole. The land around it is gently rolling until about 150' from the lakeshore where it drops off considerably and was densely wooded all around. And it isn't particularly large like a lake, just maybe a large pond with a very swampy edge. As if the name wasn't foreboding enough, I remember Gramp's driving the truck to the point where the bank descended from which we had to walk the remaining way over old wood plank walks. The trees branched out across the walks and I remember well snakes rushing out from beneath the planks or sunning themselves on the walk or on the low hanging branches overhead. The farmer kept an old rowboat tied to the shore that we would have to empty of snakes prior to climbing in to shove off and fish. This was not my favorite fishing spot, but you could pull scads of bluegill out of the deep, deep waters (attempts have been made to measure the depths but to no avail).

Devil's Lake was the name given to it by the Indians. Legend states that a brave was one time resting along the shore under the shade of surrounding trees when he witnessed a monster rise out of the murky waters and devour a deer grazing at the edge of the lake. I'm glad that I didn't know the legend when I was a kid. Lake Manitou in Rochester has a similar legend surrounding it, but with a creature more like Nessy.

Unfortunately Devil's Lake has fallen victim to the suburbanization of our rural countryside. Not long before my grandfather passed away the owner of Devil's Lake stopped by the truckstop and asked him if he'd be interested in buying his farm. Gramps, not recognizing his old friend, said no only to find out the old guy died a few months later and the property sold. The farmhouse and barn were razed and a large modular was brought in. They graded out the bank of Devil's Lake, removed all the trees and added a sandy beach they could access from their walk-out basement.

Environmentally I think that the lake was probably a rarity. Now it's just someones private beach and the devilish ambiance is gone.

4 comments:

vanilla said...

Enjoyed your "ghostly" stories this week. The monster picture is great. Did you see it? ;>)

Anonymous said...

Have you ever heard about the "devils" lake behind Pretty Lake, supposed to be bottomless and doesn't freeze in the winter?
Wingman

hoosier reborn said...

Just snakes....I saw no monster.

That sounds like a great place to start a landfill wingman...how do you think the folks on Easy Street would feel about that? NIMBY.

Anonymous said...

oh HR you are trying to stir the pot!! As one who drives on 31 and 30 almost daily I wonder how many people have ever noticed the countless semi loads of Chicago area trash that pass though River City each day on its way to Fulton County. You just had to get me on landfills Wingman