Kinzua Dam, a paranormal hotbed?
Kinzua Dam, a paranormal hotbed?
July 3, 2009
Pastor Swope

In 1796 Seneca War Chief Cornplanter was granted 15,000 acres along the Allegheny river by Pennsylvania for his assistance to the State as a loyal and a steadfast protector of American families settling in the wilderness of the upper Ohio River basin. In what would become the oldest standing Indian treaty, George Washington granted the land to Chief Cornplanter and his ancestors forever.

Forever ended in 1965 when the completed Kinzua Dam flooded the Allegheny river and covered the ancestral lands of the Seneca leader. Their homes, their only viable farmland, and the graves of the ancestors were now under hundreds of feet of water. Despite petitions from Tribal leaders to JFK to stop the proposed Dam in 1960, the President and United States broke the longest standing treaty between the Government and the Native Tribes of North America.

The residents of Kinzua and the adjoining town of Corydon were relocated, the Indian burial grounds were dug up, including that of Chief Cornplanter himself and the remains were entombed on the nearby hillside with a memorial.

But to this day the Seneca claim that not only was the removal itself a vile act of desecration, but that there are still some missing tribal graves under the flooded waters of the Allegheny. And even the bones of Cornplanter himself were treated with irreverence and disrespect, leading some who witnessed the desecration to believe that perhaps not all the remains of the historic Chief were re-interned. (American Heritage Magazine, December 1968, Vol.20 Issue 1)

The flooded valley is called the Allegheny Reservoir by the Government but to the Seneca nation this man made lake is called Lake Perfidy. Perfidy because of the underhanded deception that was conducted by the Corps of Engineers throughout the planning and building of the Dam and the promises made concerning the relocation of the people of the Tribe.

With all of the trauma and desecration one is not surprised to find out that there have been paranormal happenings along the Kinzua Dam and Lake Perfidy. But one would be amazed at the cornucopia of high strangeness that has manifest itself along the shores and beneath the waves of this cursed lake. But finding out these nuggets of Fortean happenings is not an easy task. Most of the campers and fishermen who spend their days and nights along the site are not the kind to openly share their incredible stories of the unexplained. But once in a while you get some who are willing to share their stories, and sometimes they are in the strangest places.

Kinzua is an Indian name which means “fish on spear” and the area since the flooding has been a prime Pennsylvania fishing spot. Indeed there have been record catches made on the man made lake. My family has fished at the Dam for years and I had never heard of any paranormal activities. However, recently I took a trip to the Tom Ridge Center, a welcome center to tourists coming to Presque Isle Peninsula here in Erie and I came across some strange first hand information. The reason for my trip to the center was to check out their exhibit of the 1966 UFO landing on Presque Isle, which I have reported on here. The Exhibit was not very informative and actually very condescending, disappointing since the incident was listed as never solved by Project Blue Book and the amount of time the Air Force investigated the incident. In fact the Air Force is never mentioned at the display; all they reference is a Park Ranger who claims ‘nothing spectacular happened’. But what peaked my interest was an adjoining display of Bayside Bessie, Lake Erie’s resident lake monster. The display made it seem that the creature had been sighted locally, when it was only briefly seen in the 1890s and the modern sightings took place near Cleveland Ohio. So I talked to one of the executive staff of the center about the display to see if I was missing anything. And of course when you talk to some people about the unexplained, you usually get their own stories.

The staff person told me that there have been some very strange sightings of a lake creature at Kinzua. She had heard a report from a Park Ranger that the Dam divers had a harrowing encounter with a very large snake-like creature within the last year. There was video supposedly shown by the Army Corps of Engineers to some Government officials of the creatures in Lake Perfidy. The executive told me the neck of the creature they had on tape had a massive neck that was almost two feet thick. The tape was made as divers were doing maintenance on the Dam itself and it also showed some monstrous fish near the bottom of Lake Perfidy as well. I was told that the divers have since resorted to working in cages as they inspect the Dam for fear of both the unknown aquatic creature and the car sized Catfish that might mistake them for a possible snack. Intrigued, I did some research.

I talked to some Tribal representatives who told me that there were rumored caves and an underground system that ran from the area of Kinzua to Lake Erie. Ancestral legends had it that although they were natural, sometimes the tribal members would use the system to move under the mountains faster than it would take an overland traveler to move the same distance. The representative I talked to claims that it would be through these tunnels that any type of large creature might have made its way to the Dam during the last 44 years. The tribe had no records of any lake or river monster along the Allegheny, so the representative assumed that if there is a lake monster in Lake Perfidy is had to have come from Lake Erie through these underground tunnels.

There are also some online accounts of sightings of both the monster and giant fish:

Becky who lives in the area writes: “…my friend and i have seen that monster from the first jake's rocks outlook. it was about 7 years ago, maybe the summer of 2000. to me it looked like a loch ness monster type creature. i did not see the head but i think it was the middle body area. it was in the water between the actual concrete dam and the bouys that people can not boat/swim beyond. (area to the left of shale beach if you are standing at shale beach). mind you the cars from the jake's rocks overlook look like matchbox cars. this thing was huge. it happened very sudden but it felt like it was in slowmotion. we both stood there speechless. our friends still to this day do not believe us. my friend and i have named it the serpent, believing we were the only people who have ever seen this thing. we still talk about it today and just laugh because nobody believes us, knowing what we saw, but maybe it's not a joking matter. there was something in that lake that day and i am not sure what it was, but we saw something rather strange that day.”

Also from the large fish forum on the Monsterquest site:

“I to have had an encounter with large fish where i live. I live in northwestern pennsylvania in a little town near the Kinzua Dam. We have huge northern pike and tiger musky. it has been said that workers at the dam will not go in the water without a protective cage due to the size of the fish near the dam. they say that they are the size of sharks. I believe the largest musk caught at the dam was about six feet long. I wish i could get monsterquest here to prove whether or not there are giant fish at Kinzua Dam.”

But strange creatures in the lake are not all the supernatural goings on around Lake Perfidy, UFO sightings, hauntings and Bigfoot sightings are also very common around the area. The Paranormal Ghost Society features many of these stories and their own investigations.

Of course the famous ‘baby bigfoot’ picture circulating the web last year that was shot here was determined to be only a Black Bear, but there are hordes of other sightings of a manlike ape near the cursed valley.

From comes a story from Kristian in 2001:

“…I decided to take a look outside. We had a BB gun with us. A pump-up pistol. I pumped it slowly and loaded about 10 BBs down the barrel. While I was doing that, we heard something circle the tent. Once it got to the other side of the tent, it sounded like something was lightly touching the tent up around our heads... like a scraping sound.
It completely circled the tent and came back around to the entrance. I then mustered my courage and slowly opened the tent flap. Drawing it back, I could see nothing. I smelled something horrible, like a dead animal, but I couldn't see anything. Then I realized that what I was looking at at was a huge, furry leg. It was blocking all the light into the tent from the campfire outside, which was still burning. I had the pistol in my hand, pointed at the doorway. A split second after I realized what it was, I think Chuck did. One of us screamed. I pulled the trigger...” Read the full story here: I saw Bigfoot

And you can see other reports from the area at the Pennsylvania Bigfoot Society website for Warren County.

The tribal representative told me that he was not surprised that there have been a surge of Bigfoot sightings in the area, “They hear the lament of the Nation and are drawn to the land to heal it. It is a sign that things should be restored to a balance, for when things are out of balance the spirits of nature are brought out into the open to fight along side the people of the land.”

To me the most disturbing unexplained occurrences reported at Kinzua are those of a haunting nature.

Campers at night will hear a strange moaning floating over the still waters of the lake; it is that of a woman who seems to be in mourning. Some Seneca tribal leaders suspect this is either a tribal spirit bemoaning the fact that so many graves had been desecrated and left to the indignity of being washed over by a man made lake and recreation center. Others say it is that of a woman whose remains were separated between her original burial place in the now watery grave and the new location near the Dam.

Tona 37211, a woman of Seneca heritage tells of hauntings in the area in an article on Hubpages:

“Many stories cite this area as being home to many Native American hauntings from sad and angry Native Americans roaming the area because of being disturbed after being laid to rest. They say that if you are in the area while hiking you will hear strange and unusual noises and feel eerie feelings in certain area's. They are still area's within the forest that are sacred Seneca lands.”

UFO reports are numerous in the area as well, as are USOs. Many have claimed to see unknown flying objects disappear within or appear from the lake. MUFON has a few official stories, a recent one from January of 2008 tells of an incident that happened in the neighboring town of Warren, PA:

“It was snowing very continuously that night but the sky had that slight lit up look. My husband took our puppy out for a walk while I stayed home. He proceeded to go north up the street and follow the main road through town( our town is dark except for porch lights and corner street lights). He noticed when he stopped for the puppy that a series of five yellow silent objects moving across the northwestern part of town in silence. He watched them move -then move so fast out of sight that he said it was in a second. What was unusual after that was about two minutes after the sighting there was an extremely loud roar following after them. He could see nothing but he proceeded home to me. Upon arrival at home I greeted him with the fact that our windows and doors in our house had shook so bad for a minute that I would have thought it was a tornado sitting on our house!! I went outside and saw nothing. It was not thunder. It was not sonic boom. It seemed more like something unseen was following what he had just seen and I had only heard. The next day several people in our town were all talking about what had happened that night. I hope this did not only happen to our town.”

Is it a curse upon the land that brings this high strangeness of a various phenomena? From the various reports from almost every branch of Forteana there seems to be something deeply disturbing going on.

Yet the Government and the Army Corps of Engineers who maintain control and maintenance of the Dam and Lake Perfidy claim there is nothing going on at all.

After hearing the stories and reading the firsthand accounts, the Army Corps of Engineers say they are all just ‘Urban Legends’ or ‘Tall Tales’. He insists there are no supernatural goings on, be it hauntings, UFOs or Cryptid creatures. The officer I spoke with told me that the divers do not use cages while they dive and while the lake does hold many record catches from anglers who fish there, there really is nothing out of the ordinary beneath the waves. The strange noises are just other campers or wild animals that sound like a moaning woman, the UFOs are aircraft or fireworks that land in the lake, and he said with a wink, “We all know about the baby Bigfoot that was caught on camera a few years back. There are no unexplained things at the Dam, just people who have never been close to nature for any extended period of time”.

After his debunking I asked him why a director for the State run center would tell me that they had not only heard of monster fish but a ‘Loch Ness’ type creature caught on camera, the smile wore off his face and he asked me who exactly it was that had told me this. I was vague and just replied it was one of the executive staff, and he wanted to know names. I told him that I did not get a name, which I did not, the person did tell me their name but I never wrote it down. With there was an obvious sense of annoyance on his part and he cut our talk short, gave me a quick nod and told me it was very interesting to talk to me but that he had to be heading back to his office.

Interesting. Am I being paranoid, or did it seem like the officer was covering these paranormal events up and was very disturbed to hear that private information had been leaked out. I never was one for conspiracy theories, but it was if the chip had materialized on his shoulder as soon as I mentioned the Tom Ridge Center staffer’s disclosure to me.

I recounted this incident to the representative of the Seneca nation that I had talked to, he told me of his opinion with no mincing about the issue. “I don’t see why you would trust them anyway, they are trying to protect themselves. They lied to the Seneca about the taking of the land from the beginning. They would rather lie and deceive than honor a treaty given by Washington himself. They lied about the burial of our ancestors, took our homes and built us houses that did not even last a decade. Why would they tell you the truth about the spirits of the land crying out?”

Thousands of vacationers, hunters and fishermen take advantage of the lake that the was built on deception and the breaking of the oldest treaty the United States had with its Native population.

Are the spirits of the ancestors crying out and manifesting themselves in various high strangeness? Or is the pristine watershed drawing the various cryptid creatures of the area to its shores as it does so many thousands of humans per year? Certainly such actions by our Government to the native population and the desecration of the graves could cause some paranormal activity. And what of the UFO sightings? I haven’t even touched on the Big Cat sightings in the area in this article.

It seems that while few care to talk about it, those that do recount many stories of bizarre happenings at Kinzua Dam.

As for now, I will still investigate and keep you updated. If you have had any experiences at Kinzua, feel free to send me a message or comment.
lyn says: 2010-02-21 01:44:59
I have camped at gahi for 20 years and never saw or heard anything

Karen says: 2011-03-31 12:49:44
I live next to the ANF in Tidioute, PA, and sometimes hear very strange screems come out of the forest. Strange enough to make my horses snort and stand allert, chickens freeze in thier tracks to listen, dog stares and growls. I think to myself, "What the heck was that?". All my animals including myself look in the same direction. This happens several times a year. When I hike down there, I don''t worry about anything, I love the forest. I never have any problems with wildlife. I find the supernatural very interesting, don''t fear it, and welcome any experience. I have yet to see or find any evidence of a "Big Foot" and have never seen any lake monster. Where would a lake monster come from? Kinzua ia a man-made lake. Somebody would have to "PUT" it there.

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