Every state has its traditional myths, urban legends, origin stories, and unique monsters that play a role in the history and lore of locals. Wrapped in ever-changing mythology, these stories travel from people to people and place to place; however, while many other states across the country reap tales of horror, ghosts, and savagery, Idaho’s Native American roots clearly shine through our most popular tales. Hundreds of stories exist, but these are key to the formation of Idaho:
1. Coyote And The Seven Devils
The Seven Devils form a portion of the Idaho-Oregon border, as well as line our most treasured river canyon: Hells Canyon. The Nez Perce in particular had origin stories for nearly every feature of Idaho's diverse landscape - and the story of the Seven Devils is a unique one.
Many years ago, there were seven child-eating giant brothers who lived in the horizon. The people were terrified of these giants. They sent word to Coyote to help them defeat the giants and save their children. Coyote knew he couldn't battle seven giants at once, so he dug seven massive holes in the earth and filled them with boiling liquid. As the giants were traveling east to snatch more children, they tripped into the holes and were trapped. As they struggled to free themselves, they scattered the hot liquid for as far as the eye could see. Coyote was then able to transform the giants into stone, and he opened up a canyon at their feet to keep them from ever reaching the villages again.
2. Sharlie -- A Payette Lake Legend
McCall's Sharlie - who was named via a newspaper contest in the 50s - is reported to be between 10 and 50 feet long, brownish-green, and travels in serpent-like waves, rising and falling out of the water. But this gentle beastie garners nothing but love from locals, who can't seem to recall an incident when Sharlie attacked any of the lakeside city's residents.
3. Lake Pend Oreille Paddler
This deep, ocean-like lake in Northern Idaho is the perfect locale for a monstrous beast to reside. Large, grey, and prehistoric in shape and size, locals claim that he is an unknown remnant of the Jurassic era that has managed to survive extinction, against all odds. Up until this point, the Paddler has remained a peaceful part of local lore, although many say that "sightings" of the sea creature were merely glimpses of the Naval Training Station's top-secret submarine and technology testing.
4. Massacre Rocks Water Babies
Depending on the story, a water baby is a spirit or monster, traditionally seen as a Native American-bred urban legend of small child-like creatures living in the waters of reservations around the Western U.S. They are tricksters whose goal is murder.
5. The Bear Lake Monster
The legend of the “Bear Lake Monster” originally grew from articles written in the 20th century by Joseph C. Rich, a Mormon colonizer who recorded second-hand accounts of sightings of the creature. Just recently, a 25-foot decomposed carcass was found on the Utah shore of the lake, and many locals are convinced that this "water devil" somehow met his untimely end after hundreds of years of sightings and attacks. Uniquely, this massive creature was said to have used his lengthy neck to reach onto land and kill whomever he chose.
6. Spirit Lake Origins
Spirit Lake's name is no mystery to those who live there. Years ago, a young Native American woman began a relationship with a brave from a rival tribe. Unable to wed, but determined to preserve their doomed love, the two tied their wrists together in symbolic marriage and jumped from Suicide Cliff into the lake. On moonlit nights, you can see their shadowy spirits drifting across the lake in a phantom canoe while mournful sounds fill the air as the Indian lovers seek release from their watery grave.
7. The Urban Legend... of Idaho.
To many, Idaho is simply an urban legend, much like the idea that the earth is round. In fact, the general consensus of outsiders is that Idaho was put on the map because cartographers needed a barrier to separate Utah from Canada, and Montana from Washington (or vice versa). You can read more about that theory
What other legends or mysterious tales have you encountered here in Idaho?