Like many water-based creatures, Bessie is reported to be snake-like and range from 30 to 40 feet long with a girth of at least a food in diameter. Her skin is a grayish color.
The first recorded sighting occurred in 1793. While shooting at ducks north of Sandusky, Ohio, the captain of the sloop, Felicity, claimed to have started a snake-like creature that was more than 16.5 foot in length. Other sightings were recorded in 1969, the 1980s, and in 1993. There was even a reward for $5000 for anyone who caught Bessie alive.
The $5000 reward wasn't the only bounty offered on Bessie. In 1993, the Plain Dealer reported that ten businesses had banded together to pledge a reward of $102,700 in cash and prizes. But only if anyone caught a creature measuring at least 30 feet long, weighed at least 1000 pounds, and be an unidentified aquatic species. This reward was offered after boaters on two different occasions reported seeing part of Bessie between Huron and Maumee Bay.
Of course, not everyone believed it was a giant snake lurking in the waters. Skeptics attribute the sightings over the decades to a Lake Sturgeon. This fish can grow up to 20 feet and weigh around 300 pounds.
While whether or not Bessie is real is up for debate, what is real is the inspiration she's caused.
- The Great Lakes Brewing Company makes a seasonal beer called Lake Erie Monster. The bottle artwork has a depiction of Bessie.
- A horror anthology comic book local to the area takes its name from the monster while also featuring her on the cover of its first multi-issue arc.
- Lemmy, a wood and plastic sculpture of Bessie created be Len Tieman was located in the Huron River just north of Ohio Route 2 near Huron in 1994. It could be seen by drivers from the bridge. Alas, the sculpture was damaged and had to be removed.