Town of Plattsburgh officials have unveiled a new marker to promote tourism and foster a Lake Champlain legend.
For over three-and-a-half centuries people living near the Lake Champlain shore have occasionally reported sightings of a long-necked sea creature akin to the Loch Ness Monster.
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.
On Monday, Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman unveiled its first Legends and Lore marker along the Cumberland Head shoreline dedicated to the lake’s legendary resident. "We are going to unveil our new signage here. And I’m just going to read it. Legends and Lore: Champy. Legendary lake monster lives here. Over 300 sightings reported since 1819. Up to 200 feet long and New York state law protects this regional icon.”
The town received grant funding from the Pomeroy Foundation for the Champy marker. Cashman says they thought it was a fun way to celebrate the character of the community. “We don’t believe that we are the only community that can stake claim to Champy. But we do believe we have a beautiful vista here that looks at a wonderful segment of Lake Champlain. It is one of the gateways to our community. And the Town of Plattsburgh has been focusing on many different gateway features over the last several years. More than anything we believe that it is not only a celebration of Champy, it’s a celebration of the Adirondack Coast.”
North Country Chamber of Commerce Director of Tourism Kristy Kennedy says Champ is a hidden secret that is a lure for tourism. She adds that signs and markers like these can be a critical part of marketing. “From a tourist’s perspective it’s something different, it’s something unique to find. It’s that little hidden gem that they’re going to go find. The nice thing about signage those signs give us a destination to market. It gives them a place to stop, a place to go read about it, a place to learn more information. The blue signs are really popular – all the history trails. Some of those historical sites aren’t there but it gives you a landmark. It’s something to look at and note this is the exact site where it happened and then we can give a visitor an actual location to go and see the history or the legend.”
In 1982 the Vermont House passed a resolution protecting “Champ.” The next year, the New York legislature passed a resolution recognizing its potential existence and encouraging “…serious scientific inquiry into the existence of unusual animals in Lake Champlain, especially one commonly known as “Champ”; protecting Champ from any willful act resulting in death, injury or harassment; and encouraging report of sighting of such animals.”