Dan Rattiner's Stories

Monster Watch: College Students Await the Creature at Long Pond

Bridgehampton's Long Pond Monster has a long and horrific history.

The five students from New Jersey’s Shelton College camping in the woods by Long Pond in Bridgehampton for the last two weeks hoping to photograph the Long Pond Monster have decided to remain here another week.

“It’s been disappointing so far,” said Jeff McKraken, an anthropology major and the leader of the expedition. “There have been so many sightings over the centuries. We felt sure he would emerge for Halloween.”

McKraken, along with students John Busman, Emily Strongfeather, Amos Long, Dennis Cole and Beverly Halligan, have the very latest photography equipment, including ultrasound.

“But so far, nothing,” McKraken said.

Searching for the Long Pond Monster in boat on misty water
Searching for the Long Pond Monster, Photo: iStock

The earliest appearance of the Long Pond Monster came in 1655, when two settlers in East Hampton, hunting in the woods, saw the monster emerge briefly. They ran away.

“Tis a horror,” one of the settlers reported at a village meeting. “A work of the devil. He must have been 60 feet longe. With this huge red taile.”

Several men with knives and muskets returned to the pond, but the monster laid low.

Nevertheless, the town became fearful of that pond, and some said a housewife named Goody Garlick had been performing witchcraft on its shore. She was arrested and tried in Hartford for witchcraft in 1658 but was acquitted. She and her husband spent their later years on Gardiners Island.

Walt Whitman spent six months in Southold and visited the pond. In 1892, in Leaves of Grass he wrote “…in vain the ocean settling in hollows and the great monsters lying low; in vain the buzzard houses herself with the sky. In vain the snake slides through the creepers and logs.”

Obviously, he’s writing of the Long Pond Monster.

In 1903, an assistant to the great Long Island electricity scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla waded into Long Pond carrying a metal wand with an electric charge and tried to lure the monster out so he could photograph him. There was a huge electrical explosion and the monster rose up and ate the assistant, then went down below again. Dead fish then rose to the top of the pond. It ate the camera, too. Today, you can visit Tesla’s laboratory, preserved as a museum to the great man, in Shoreham.

Another sighting took place in 1943, during the Second World War. A group of a dozen soldiers bivouacking near the pond thought they saw the monster and opened fire with mortars, rifles and machine guns for a barrage of nearly half an hour. No trace of the monster was to be found in the morning, and a subsequent investigation by a Congressional committee brought no evidence to indicate that the monster ever existed.

The most recent sighting came three years ago and famously led to the death of Robert Jermain Bolton, the prominent New York City developer. According to local hunter Charles Higgins of Bridgehampton, he was sitting in a duck blind at three in the morning on the eastern shore of the pond on Halloween eve when he saw Mr. Bolton being rowed on the pond by his chauffeur.

Long Pond Monster boat
Photo: iStock

“I recognized him from all the pictures in the papers. He was about to buy Long Pond and was going to divide it up into 15 five-acre plots that he’d price at $1 million. I don’t know why he was out at that time, but there he was. Maybe he wanted to see what his new property would look like at night. The monster came up and ate him. And the chauffeur.”

Higgins then gave police what was probably the most accurate description of the monster.

“It was horrible. He rose 20 or 30 feet out of the water. He was green in color, with a scaly body, fangs and glistening yellow eyes that shone in the moonlight. He was just up for a minute, dripping wet, then he went down briefly with a splash and then leaped up again and ate everything, even the rowboat.”

Higgins ran away when he saw this, and when he felt safe enough, he stopped behind a bush and breathlessly called 911. When police arrived and interviewed him where he was hiding, they briefly considered a suspect in the case. He was carrying the AK-15 he was shooting ducks with, and numerous rounds had been fired. He also did not pass a sobriety test but had on him an empty bottle of whiskey, which he said he gulped down to calm his nerves while waiting.

The police and a SWAT team put the pond under surveillance until dawn, but nothing further happened.   However, a broken oar was found after sunrise, confirming Higgins’ account.

“We’ve had drones making videos over the pond these last two weeks,” Jeff McKracken told our reporter yesterday. “We’ll stay one more week.”

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