Georgia’s Loch Ness Monster
Meet the Altamaha-ha, and yes, that is a mouthful. We have run the gamut in cryptids with this weekly series. There have been mothmen, devil dogs, creepy children with melon heads. We even had land whales swallowing tourists whole as it slid down the mountainside.
When I research these crazy cryptids, I try and choose one that is less known. Every so often, though, I come across a cryptid that is little known and fascinating. Georgia’s cryptid fits that bill.
Georgia is well known for its swamps and marshlands. Immediately you think of a Bigfoot-type creature or even a reptile type creature. I always think of the Swamp Thing when I hear about swamps and marshes. Witnesses say that a Bigfoot-type creature called the Skunk Ape lives in Georgia’s wet marshlands. Many accounts report a lizard-man lurking in the marshlands too. What you don’t expect to live in Georgia is a Nessie or a Champ.
Meet Altamaha-ha, Georgia’s Loch Ness Monster.
The Altamaha-ha or affectionately called Altie is a Muscogee Creek Tribe legend. Before the arrival of English settlers in the 1700s, the Muscogee told stories about Altie. The sea monster that lurks at the mouth of the Altamaha River in Southeastern Georgia. It is one of Georgia’s largest rivers, larger even than the Mississipi River. The Altamaha River is also the largest river basin in the United States and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. This gives this week’s cryptid a vast area to traverse along.
Scottish settlers began arriving in 1736 and named their new home New Inverness. That town is now known as Darien. It is interesting to note that Inverness, Scotland is home to the Loch Ness Monster. Did these Scottish settlers see something that was never reported? It wouldn’t be surprising if that were the case. Seeing another Nessie-like creature wouldn’t have fazed these highlanders. Nessie is well known in the Highlands of Scotland and is today a popular tourist attraction.
Like Nessie of Scotland, sightings of Georgia’s Altie date back hundreds of years. The Muscogee Creek Indians passed down the legend of this cryptid legend generation to generation. Stories of a giant snake-like creature that hisses and bellows.
The first non-Indian story was in 1830. A newspaper writer out of Savannah reported many sightings along the Georgia coastline. Writers have fertile imaginations, and sometimes out of that imagination, life is born out of a mere thought like the Slenderman.
Except this writer was only reporting what other witnesses saw. A Captain Delano of the schooner Eagle swears he saw a 70-foot long creature. A creature with the head of an Alligator off St. Simon’s Island. The good captain wasn’t the only witness. Five of his men also saw the strange creature and several planters who lived on the island. That is too many witnesses to discard as an overactive imagination.
Stories of the Altamaha-ha states it loves to troll the winding channels around Georgia’s marshes. The small streams around Darien, Butler Island, and other areas in McIntosh County. Altie likes to play hide-n-go-seek in the wetlands and scaring poor unsuspecting fishers and outdoorsmen.
The sightings kept coming. In the 1920s, timbermen traveling the river also reported a huge snake-like monster. In, 1935 hunters saw a giant snake swimming in the river. A few short years later, in the 1940s, a group of boy scouts reported seeing Altie. Two officials from Reidsville State Prison saw Altie in the 1950s. Add to the growing number of sightings around the state.
There was a brief respite on Altie sightings until 1969. Two brothers reported seeing the elusive creature. They swear it measured 10-12 feet with a snout like an Alligator.
Earlier reports had Altie as 70-feet with an Alligator snout. The brothers’ story sounds like they saw a baby Altie. That could explain why there have been sightings spanning hundreds of years. Altie is breeding -with a whole family of Altamaha-ha in Georgia. Of course, that is a rather spooky thought in itself.
In the 1980s, a rash of sightings began trickling in about this snake-like creature. Two men stated an Altie got stuck on the mud banks near Cathead Creek. They watched it struggle to free itself and described it as being 20-feet long with dark skin. Do you see the trend here?
Same description, but the size is changing. There have been reports of the Altie ranging from 10 to 70 feet. The difference in sizes suggests there is a family of the Altie. Different sizes being Alties of different ages. Later that year, a man reported an Altie sighting at Smith Lake. This one was 15-20 feet long with two brown humps. A Crab fisherman sited an Altie in the 1980s. He says Altie looked like the world’s most massive eel.
In 2002 near Brunswick, a man pulling his boat to shore spotted a 20-foot Altie. An amateur photographer captured a strange creature swimming in Darien. It was swimming in the channel off Fort King George Historic Site in 2010, and he even caught Altie on video.
Some people think Altie is fake. Stories of Altie have been reported since the 1700s, which is a long time for a fake creature to exist. Theories have ranged from Altie being a whale to logs floating in the river. They are good theories, except Whales don’t usually swim in rivers.
People mistaking logs as snake-like creatures for hundreds of years isn’t credible. 20-foot logs, especially, would be hard to miss as being logs. It also doesn’t seem possible to mistake a huge snake-like creature for a log.
If you happen to be in Darien, Georgia, keep an eye on the Altamaha River, but I wouldn’t go on it. In case Altie comes to visit.