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Champy Legends and Lore marker replaced after original was stolen

Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman holds a small version of Champy after a replacement marker is unveiled
Pat Bradley
Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman holds a small version of Champy after a replacement marker is unveiled

In July 2019 the Town of Plattsburgh placed a Legends and Lore marker on the shore of Cumberland Bay highlighting the legend of Champy — the North Country’s take on the Loch Ness Monster that is said to live in the lake’s waters. But in November 2021 the marker was stolen. Today town and local historical association officials unveiled a replacement marker.

For over three-and-a-half centuries people living near Lake Champlain have occasionally reported sightings of a long-necked sea creature. The Town of Plattsburgh had received grant funding from the Pomeroy Foundation to place a marker celebrating Champy. But soon the town had a new unsolved mystery: the Legends and Lore marker was stolen. Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman said the community rallied to replace the sign.

“The Pomeroy Foundation, which provides the Lore and Legends and a lot of the other blue and yellow markers, had offered to replace it. But we felt it was too kind of a gift for them to just give us another one and that there was such a strong community outpouring that we could do something creative in partnership. It’s another example, or another demonstration, of the community owning this story. Not just owning it as far as us being the only municipality or town that has a connection with Champy, but our region. So it’s really neat. It’s a point of pride.”

Cashman read a letter from Deryn Pomeroy, a trustee of the Pomeroy Foundation, on replacing the Legends and Lore marker.

“The markers were well researched and well sourced review from professional folklorists and historians, depending on their marker program. We strongly believe markers offer many benefits. They help educate the public and encourage pride of place and promote historic and cultural tourism. With this replacement marker for Champy you will continue to share this unique aspect of your community’s folklore.”

Cashman then turns to those gathered, “At this point I ask Jess, Geri and we’ll unveil this marker.”

Cashman says replacing the sign is important because Champy is part of the regional identity.

"Right here on the peninsula of Cumberland Head the volunteer fire department has Champy on the fire truck for example. So it’s a point of community pride. It’s a point of regional pride and it’s about encouraging people to lean in and celebrate stories. It’s about celebrating who we are.”

The town worked with the Clinton County Historical Association to raise the funds to replace the Champy sign. President Geri Favreau says history needs to be fun.

“History is more than battles and war and it also needs to be fun and Champy is fun. And it’s another story that brings people into the area, gives them something to think about, look on the lake and see oh maybe we’ll see him today or not. And it just gives another twist to history. So it’s a fun thing to do and history is also fun.”

So, what is the town doing to keep the second sign from being purloined? Cashman says public vigilance is key.

“The other part to it is we’ve anchored it in some different ways. Now that isn’t an invitation or a challenge to somebody to do something stupid. But, you know, we’ve done our best and we just ask people to recognize that you’re not stealing something form the Town of Plattsburgh, you’re stealing something from the community if you were to do something like that again.”

The thief or thieves of the original sign have not been caught.

Some reports claim that Samuel De Champlain was the first European to sight the creature known as “Champ” or “Champy” in 1609 but his accounts have been questioned. The next published report was in 1819 at Bulwagga Bay on the southern end of the lake. Over 300 sightings have been reported since.

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