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Mythology and Cryptids

Tahoe Tessie, The Elusive Lake Tahoe Monster

What truly lies at the bottom of Lake Tahoe would surprise you...
What truly lies at the bottom of Lake Tahoe would surprise you...

Tahoe Tessie is a baffling, cryptozoological creature that lives in the North American alpine lake of Lake Tahoe, Nevada, California.

According to Washoe and Paiute, tribal members’ stories from the middle of the 19th century, the lake-dwelling creature lives in an underwater tube beneath Cave Rock, and sightings have persisted into the present day.

Tessie, also known as the Lake Tahoe monster, ranges in size from a bean to a bus, has a massive, serpentine body that is “as wide across as a barrel,” and has a variety of colors, including turquoise and jet black. Despite possessing reptilian traits, its skin is typically regarded as smooth.

What Is Found at The Bottom of Lake Tahoe?

Interestingly, Lake Tahoe is also known to be an underwater Mob graveyard.

Around Tahoe, there is a familiar tale about a fisherman who was trolling when his hook got hooked on something in the deep a few years ago. When he finally liberated it and brought his “prize” back to his boat, he discovered a perfectly preserved human ear.

A body that was stuffed into a barrel and weighed down

A body that was stuffed into a barrel and weighed down

In another story, the fisherman is said to have caught a human hand with three fingers. Local lore claims that from the 1920s until the 1950s, Mob victims were dumped in the 900-foot-deep waters off South Shore. They claim that hundreds of mobster bodies are hanging in the deep seas, protected from rotting and kept from rising gas-inflated.

This story is so well-known that many local fishermen call the area “The Graveyard.”

The Godfather Part II’s conclusion includes a Tahoe-boat Mafia execution. The stories about “Tessie” are even wilder. Locals claim that a gigantic, unknown serpent-like creature lurks in the lake’s lowest regions and emerges around June every even-numbered year.

The creature, known as “Tessie” in homage to Loch Ness’ “Nessie,” is said to appear in Washoe Indian tradition and may have been first observed by settlers in the 19th century. When the San Francisco Chronicle revealed that two ladies had seen the Lake Tahoe leviathan a month earlier, Tessie made headlines in the newspaper on July 12, 1984.

When the monster was discovered swimming in the lake, Tahoe City residents Patsy McKay and Diane Stavarakas were hiking above the west shore. The beast, according to McKay, was around 17 feet long.

Remains of a diver at the bottom of Lake Tahoe

Remains of a diver at the bottom of Lake Tahoe

It surfaced three times, “like a small submarine,” while she observed it intently. Her partner reported that the animal humped back and appeared to surface lazily, like a whale.

Additionally, she was sure it wasn’t a diver, a log, or a giant ripple. Two years prior, Tessie had also been spotted by two off-duty Reno police officers. An “unusually huge” monster swum by officers Kris Beebe and Jerry Jones while water skiing near the lake in June 1982.

Another legend surrounding Tahoe claims an underground river system connects Pyramid Lake in Nevada and the lake itself. The bodies of victims who drowned in Tahoe appear to have surfaced in Pyramid Lake, located 50 miles to the north.

However, this occurrence might be brought on by the dead drifting over the north Tahoe spillway and onto the Truckee River before continuing on to Pyramid Lake. The mid-1970s were the closest anyone has ever been to solving Tahoe’s mysteries.

Human remains at the bottom of Lake Mead. Most likely, victims of the American Mafia

Human remains at the bottom of Lake Mead. Most likely, victims of the American Mafia

Famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau visited the lake in a miniature submarine and made many dives to locate the 1,600-foot bottom. The world isn’t ready for what is down there; he supposedly said when he surfaced and died refusing to share any images or data from the mission.

Legends also talk about Chinese immigrants brought in to help build the railroads. After everything was said and done, the white workers took the immigrants out to the middle of the lake, tied them up in large groups, weighed them down, and threw them in since they didn’t want to deal with paying them and providing them with the promised citizenship.

What did the renowned diver discover? Bobbing in the shadowy depths are corpses wearing pinstripes and wounded by bullets. Living, amphibious dinosaurs in a colony? Or even more bizarre? The cold depths of Lake Tahoe hold the solutions.

The Legends of Tahoe Tessie

Many years ago, a charter fishing boat called “Big Mack” blasted through calm water on Lake Tahoe in the early hours of the morning. Mickey Daniels guided the boat about a half-mile offshore.

Daniels spent many years as a Placer County Sheriff’s deputy before being chosen to be a county constable. An avid fisherman, he spent his mornings casting a line into the deep blue while watching the sun rise over the mountains on Tahoe’s east shore.

Daniels has a reputation for catching enormous mackinaw trout throughout his years of fishing. However, he saw something strange in the water one morning. Something more extraordinary, enigmatic, and unforgettable.

A graphic rendering of the Tahoe Tessie

A graphic rendering of the Tahoe Tessie

He reported what he witnessed to an L.A. Times reporter in 2005: A wave with a V-shaped peak suddenly crested on Tahoe’s still surface. Daniels was certain that it wasn’t the wake from his boat. He told the reporter that it appeared like a huge animal was surging through the water.

As swiftly as it had appeared, it abruptly vanished.

Once more, the ocean was calm. The sun grew brighter in the morning. Daniels, who passed suddenly on February 26 at his house in Carnelian Bay, will never forget what he saw, even if the day went on as if nothing had happened.

Years later, whenever he launched his boat onto the lake, he would look into the water to find the solution.

Daniels states, “I keep looking; I want to see if there is anything.”

A rumored sighting of the Tahoe Tessie

A rumored sighting of the Tahoe Tessie

The depths of Tahoe, the country’s second-deepest lake, reach 1,645 feet below the water’s surface. In the top 60 to 80 feet of water, Tahoe is renowned for its incredible clarity, but the deeper you descend, the darker it becomes.

Tahoe turns black when it is at its lowest point. The stories of Tahoe Tessie start at this point.

The mysteries of Tahoe possess the subject of countless tall stories and mythology. The Washoe Tribe has stories about water babies and mighty monsters that live in the lake.

Then there are the stories of all the immaculately preserved bodies that are said to be hanging in Tahoe’s freezing grave for all time.

But the biggest myth remains a mystery. There is no doubt that anything is under there. Or was it situated there? The question is: What is this terrifying, surreal being known as Tahoe Tessie, actually?

Tahoe Tessie is a little simpler to characterize in terms of what it is not.

A car discovered in the depths of Lake Tahoe

A car discovered in the depths of Lake Tahoe

Not a dinosaur, either. David Antonucci, a Tahoe historian, reminded me that the dinosaurs perished 65 million years ago. Lake Tahoe is only 3.5 million years old, according to Antonucci.

Furthermore, it is not a terrifying sea serpent. Although I.C. Coggin, a San Francisco socialite, wrote a first-person account about his brief escape from a terrible creature with a 14-foot-wide head and gleaming, jet-black eyes for the Examiner in 1897.

Coggin crouched behind a huge pine tree as the amazing serpent slithered by, crushing little trees beneath its belly.

I’m sure there will be skeptics, but sooner or later, Coggin wrote, “his Snakeship will be seen by so many that all doubt will be gone.” Many individuals would eventually travel to Lake Tahoe to witness something mysterious.

Bodies that were discovered at the bottom of Lake Mead

Bodies that were discovered at the bottom of Lake Mead

The cartoonish green dragon known as Tessie, frequently shown as a plush animal or printed on mugs, T-shirts, and keychains at gift stores, is not the undersea enigma in Tahoe.

Yes, Bob McCormick gave the caricature in his children’s novel Tahoe Tessie a name, and the deep-sea mysteries undoubtedly served as inspiration. The 1980s saw the release of McCormick’s illustrated book, which went on to sell tens of thousands of copies.

He was also well-known for dressing up as Tessie for neighborhood parades, parties, and school functions, bringing the amiable dragon with the white scales down her back to life.

Tessie from McCormick is the Tessie I’ve always known. It’s also the Tessie I spotted a few weeks back when strolling along Tahoe City’s Commons Beach bike route.

My spouse initially saw Tessie. He asked, “Aren’t you writing a narrative about Tessie?” You must see this, I say.

There are hundreds of bodies at the bottom of Lake Tahoe

There are hundreds of bodies at the bottom of Lake Tahoe

When I saw a green monster drifting out into the middle of the bay on a paddle board with white scales along its spine, alpenglow’s rosy hue had just begun to illumine the snow-capped mountains beyond Lake Tahoe.

Along with heavily saturated images of Tahoe’s Caribbean blue and deserted beaches, tourists with iPhones lined up on the beach to take pictures that would soon be posted to Instagram or transformed into memes.

Let’s face it: it’s now more unusual to discover an empty beach in Tahoe than it is actually to see Tessie. Are those flawless images on social media the next incarnation of the Tahoe myth?

According to Phil Sexton, executive director of the North Lake Tahoe Historical Society, “I always recognized Tessie as a sort of Dr. Seussian-type myth.” She contributes to the senses found in the air we breathe, the trees, and everything else.

In the end, she is a component of the environment, which is both natural and mythical.

Tessie cannot exist, am I correct? In reality, I’m unsure.

Is the Tahoe Tessie Real?

Many more persons than Daniels have also claimed seeing an unidentified swimming item in Lake Tahoe. The sightings reported by reliable sources piqued Antonucci’s interest.

According to a 1988 article published in the San Francisco Examiner, sightings of a monster or unidentified creature in Lake Tahoe were reported in the 1980s by one optometrist, two police officers, two nuns, and ten employees of the Tahoe City post office.

A police officer reported seeing “some sort of fish, which looked dark grey or black,” and swimming beneath him at least 10 feet long as he was water skiing on Lake Tahoe.

A shipwreck at the bottom of the lake

A shipwreck at the bottom of the lake

Seeing something “cutting through the water and leaving a wake as it proceeded along,” a Tahoe City resident told the Examiner.

Then there is Daniels, who also spoke with the Examiner in an interview: “I believe there is something out there. I’ve spoken with about 100 folks who have seen it. What shall I do, brand them liars?”

To find explanations for Tahoe’s monster, experts from UC Davis sponsored a conference in Reno in 1984. All large fish species were excluded except a sturgeon. According to Bob Richards, a research scientist at UC Davis, it’s plausible that someone put a sturgeon into Lake Tahoe, intentionally or not.

Fish from the past, sturgeons. They can reach lengths of 7 to 12 feet and are bottom feeders. A sturgeon is a very long fish with scales on its back that resembles a serpent.

“People have disposed of a variety of things in Lake Tahoe that they shouldn’t have over the years, even now. They do survive occasionally,” Antonucci stated. It reminds me of the giant goldfish that swim about in the Tahoe Keys.

Here’s where I took a second look. There’s a massive goldfish in Lake Tahoe.

A massive goldfish that was caught in the Uk

A massive goldfish that was caught in the UK

It is real. The Tahoe Keys, a wetland area south of Tahoe that was once an essential component of the watershed and is now a subdivision with canals à la Venice, was home to a massive goldfish in 2017 that weighed several pounds and grew to be eight inches long.

An aquatic expert stated, “We think these goldfish were first introduced to Lake Tahoe by well-intentioned pet owners.”

The goldfish is a fun side attraction, but let’s return to Lake Tahoe’s larger monster. In 2016, an amateur researcher named Chase Petley dropped his GoPro into the lake while it was enclosed in a watertight container.

The camera sank more than four minutes to the quarter-mile depth of Lake Tahoe’s bottom. The image only shows a murky black at first, but then you notice something moving in the backdrop. Is that the genuine Tessie?

Sexton nor Antonucci have observed anything resembling Tessie. No, neither have I. And perhaps the wake Daniels observed was simply the result of waves acting abnormally and crashing into one another.

Antonucci stated, “It’s likely a very massive fish, almost certainly a sturgeon.”

Antonucci afterward included a cliffhanger.

A skeleton strapped to a chair at the bottom of Lake Tahoe. It was later revealed to be a prop

A skeleton strapped to a chair at the bottom of Lake Tahoe. It was later revealed to be a prop

“It’s fascinating. There haven’t been any recent sightings. Nothing comes to mind. It almost appears to have passed away.”

Sexton continues to find solace in the legend.

Everyone, according to Sexton, “needs answers to the uncertainty on a fundamental level.” “Scientists attempt to conduct scientific searches for solutions. Poets, painters, and writers make an artistic effort to find them. The rest of us create something to complete the circle, so there’s that.”

Because Lake Tahoe is so unusual, many tales may be told to explain its origin.

Sexton remarked, “There has to be more magic with it. Tessie might be a component of that, along with some alcohol, simultaneously.”

According to some Tahoe residents, the bodies of swimmers and boaters who drowned in Lake Tahoe have been found in Pyramid Lake, and vice versa. They adamantly maintain that volcanic activity is what caused the tunnels.

What Did Jacques Cousteau Discover at Lake Tahoe?

Experts have refuted other claims regarding strange occurrences beneath Lake Tahoe. Some people in the area maintain that famous diver and naturalist Jacques Cousteau visited the lake in a small submarine in the middle of the 1970s and came out looking pale and unsteady.

Jacques Cousteau is a world renowned diver who was shocked by what he saw at the depths

Jacques Cousteau is a world renowned diver who was shocked by what he saw at the depths

“The world isn’t ready for what’s down there,” Cousteau said when asked about what he’d seen and recorded on the lake bottom.

Depending on who narrates the tale, Cousteau came across a group of corpses or the Tahoe Tessie.

As for us, we’ll be standing on a pier or other elevated platform viewing the water, squinting to see the water’s surface. We might discover a monster. Or perhaps it would be the mob bodies again.

Next, read about the Horrible Cattle Mutilations at the Skinwalker Ranch. Then, read about Amy Lynn Bradley, the girl Who Went Missing From a Cruise Ship!



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Written By

Abin Tom Sebastian, also known as Mr. Morbid in the community, is an avid fan of the paranormal and the dark history of the world. He believes that sharing these stories and histories are essential for the future generations. For god forbid, we have seen that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.



  1. Marta P

    February 8, 2023 at 11:53 am

    Mr M , I have been a fan of your writing and investigative reporting for several months now. You never disappoint. One of my favorite accounts on the gram!

    • Mr Morbid

      February 9, 2023 at 8:20 am

      Thanks a lot for your support 🙂

  2. Carolina

    February 9, 2023 at 11:49 am

    Mr Morbid, just came across your account on TikTok & I am now reading each story with glee and morbid curiosity!! Thanks for sharing your stories!

    • Mr Morbid

      February 10, 2023 at 6:07 am

      Thanks a lot for your love, and thanks for reading!

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