Wyoming Beasts & Where To Find Them: Lake DeSmet Monster
Lake DeSmet occupies a natural un-drained basin in Johnson County, Wyoming. The lake is home to great fishing an recreation, but its dark blue waters may also be hiding a dark secret.
According to legend, local Native Americans believed the lake had healing abilities and could produce visions. One young warrior's mind was poisoned by one of those visions, causing him to fall in love with a 'water spirit'. The warrior then rejected his soon to be wife, and in her sadness, the woman drowned herself. The woman's father killed the warrior. It is said that the sound of the wind moaning across the surface of the lake is the moaning of the dead warrior.
By the time settlers came to the area, the local Native Americans had become fearful of the lake, and not just because of the legend of the dead lovers. There was something else there.
Settlers reported seeing a large serpent swimming in the dark blue waters. It was described as having a "head like a horse, a bony ridge down its back, big around as a tree, and about 40 feet long." Native American tribes near the lake told stories of the monster snatching people from the banks and disappearing in the depths below to bottomless tunnels that allegedly lined the bottom.
The Lake DeSmet monster has come to be referred to as "Smetty". A railroad surveyor told of an experience a family had with"Smetty" in his 1925 book 'Locating The Iron Trail'. The book reads: “They had seen two sea serpents which had made a great commotion in the water, and swam as fast as a horse could trot. Mrs. Barkey stated that ‘they looked like a long telephone pole with lard buckets attached,’ referring no doubt to the fins or flappers along their sides.”
Although no photographic evidence of "Smetty" has been captured, there are still many out there who are sure of its existence. Next time you are in the area, be sure to watch the lake closely and enjoy with caution. You never know what you might encounter.