While researching the Umpqua River Lighthouse for our forthcoming Northwest Lighthouses map, we found this delightful tidbit from October 28, 1888, in the New York Times archives:
THE SEA SERPENT AGAIN.
From the San Francisco Alta, Oct. 12.
The regular annual sea serpent has made his appearance again. He is a little out of his latitude this time, having been seen in a place where heretofore he has never been known to roam. There is no doubt as to the identity of the creature, as it is vouched for by several parties who are known as strictly temperate men, whose eyes have not been accustomed to seeing every variety of snakes floating in the air and in every conceivable position. Capt. Edgar Avery of the bark Estrella, while coming from Tacoma to this city with coal, descried the monster when the bark was passing the Umpqua River. The serpent, for such the Captain solemnly declares it to be, was swimming on the surface of the water in a southerly direction. The bark at the time was headed south-southeast, and when the Captain first noticed the reptile it was about 200 yards off, and was apparently not the least disconcerted by the proximity of the vessel. As it was 10 o’clock in the morning, and the sun was shining brightly, the startled Captain had a good view of the serpent. When he was satisfied that he beheld a real live serpent, and not a creation of his imagination, the Captain sprang below and got his rifle, calling to his wife and crew to come on deck and view the wonder. The lady and several of the crew came on deck and plainly saw the monster swimming by. He appeared to be about 80 feet long and as big round as a barrel. He rode over the waves with his head and about 10 feet of his body elevated above water, every now and then dipping his immense head into the water, the body making gigantic convolutions while gliding caterpillar-like over the waves. The head was flat, or “dished,” as the Captain described it, and the body appeared to be covered with scales. About 10 feet of what might properly be called the neck, was covered with coarse hair, resembling a mane. After viewing the monster for a time, the Captain raised his rifle and fired several shots at it, but the bullets fell short. The sea serpent seemingly paid no attention to the shooting, but kept on his way. The excited spectators kept it in view for fully a half hour, when, without any apparent flurry, it sank out of sight in the sea, and was not seen after.