The Monster of Elizabeth Lake
There are at least ten different Elizabeth Lakes in California. This one is in LA County near Palmdale and is perhaps the oldest one in the state. Legend states that the Devil himself created the lake and placed one of his own pets inside it. If you swim deep enough, eventually you will find a secret passage direct to the underworld which isn't entirely far fetched, as the lake lies directly over the San Andres fault line. From this lake a horrible monster came to be.
Although there have been no reported sightings since the 1880's, there were a few from 1830 all the way up to 1886. The creature has been described as having bat wings, the neck of a giraffe, the head of a bulldog, six legs, a length of at least fifty feet, and emit a horrible nauseating stench. Several ranchers and owners of land around Elizabeth Lake abandoned or sold their property at losses to get away from the beast. Supposedly Spanish missionaries dubbed the lake Laguna del Diablo and Indian Legend also supports the rumors that the Devil created the lake.
The first sighting was by a Spaniard Don Pedro Carillo in the 1830's. He built a ranch on the shores of the lake, but one day a fire of unknown origin burnt every single structure down all in a single night. In the 1850's, American settlers tried to establish themselves near the lake, but screams at night, unnatural noises, visions, and other experiences that they would not relate drove them away from the fertile soils.
Then came Don Chico Lopez and Don Chico Vasquez. He established an entire ranch along the lake and for several months everything was fine. The monster did not show itself. Then the workers reported livestock and animals disappearing. This was followed by a giant winged shadow passing over the house each and every night. Soon the residents had multiple sightings of the beast. Bullets reportedly bounced off the creature's hide. As ranch hands quit, and animals kept disappearing, the owners were forced to sell. The land was eventually sold and the ranch abandoned.
Miguel Leonis purchased the ranch next. Leonis was a Basque immigrant, a large and burly man who controlled a large amount of land throughout Southern California. He ruled over it like a dictator, and squatters were often severely dealt with through either lawsuits or armed force.
Several months after he purchased the ranch on Elizabeth Lake, the creature began eating his animals as well. But Leonis would not have it. He lay in wait for the beast and then savagely attacked it when it emerged at night. As bullets bounced off its tough hide, he engaged it closer, beating it with his rifle butt across the nose and then punching it in the eye. So taken back by the ferocity of the attack, that the creature retreated back to the lake, and there lay resting, healing its injured eye. Eventually, it fled from the lake heading east towards Arizona.
The tale, however, doesn't quite end there. The spawn of the Devil that inhabited Elizabeth Lake has also been linked to the area around Tombstone and the Thunderbird Photograph. The Thunderbird Photograph is a possible picture taken a very long time ago presumably in early 1890 of several cowboys and ranchers holding up what appears to be a pterodactyl. The beast was apparently seen flying in the area, and was lured by some ranchers into a trap in the Huachuca Mountains, west of Tombstone, where they killed the creature. Some stories link the monster of Elizabeth Lake to the monster in the old picture of the pterodactyl, stating that they are the same creature. The picture, of course, also has several stories surrounding it. Scholars aren't even sure if such a picture even exists let alone if it is authentic. The picture apparently appeared in the newspaper: the Tombstone Epitaph and showed several cowboys and ranchers in front of a dead pterodactyl who's wings were pinned to the wall of a barn. The picture soon disappeared.
Regardless of if the creature fled to Arizona, and regardless of if it was killed west of Tombstone, since the day that Leonis beat up the Devil's pet, Elizabeth Lake has mostly been quiet. Speculation has long existed on if the monster did exist. Additionally if it did not exist, no one can draw a conclusion as to why several Spanish dons, American squatters, and wild west ranchers would go to such lengths to avoid such a fertile area.
If the Tombstone story is to be believed, the monster outlived it's attacker, Miguel Leonis, by only one year. Leonis eventually died in a strange wagon accident in 1889. As he wasn't very well liked, rumors of his murder spread afterwards. His and his wife's ghost still haunt the Leonis Adobe in Calabasas.
- Shelley Sartin of Rowland hgts, Ca on 2014-08-04 said:
- We grew up in lake hughes. Our grandma was the cook at the school, uncle was a mayor and grandfather the neighborhood mechanic. They all told us the story of the monster and years later they use to have competitions who could yell the loudest to call him out. Great place to grow up.
- bob of san diego, california on 2014-07-12 said:
- our family belonged to the old lake elizabeth ranch club, in the early/mid fifties. I remember changing into our swim trunks in that big old tent and the great fried chicken in their dining room. We lived in Van Nuys and I remember it being a pretty good drive out there.
- DAVID F of LANCASTER, CA on 2014-03-03 said:
- I lived in Lancaster since 1960 and have been to the lake when it was dry and over flowing. In 1972 my 8th grade class wrote a book called "mirages, mountions and mysteries" we all knew of the story as interviews with old locals lead us to information about it. One thing we had noted was that the Sellers brothers circus had offered a $20,000 reward for the capture of the monster alive. It has been noted in folk lore of the native Indians and settlers up to the early 1890's.
- Anonymous on 2013-11-03 said:
- Our ranch overlooked the Lake which was beautiful & full of water in the 1950's. my great uncle was one of the founders of the Ranch Club. My family lived in the area from 1928-1960. Never heard the monster story until about ten years ago, although I hear it was on the History Channel recently.
- Anonymous of Norco, CA on 2013-10-13 said:
- I went to the stables & clubhouse there back in the 70's as we were club members and to this day still own property overlooking the golf course/lake. We'd build there if it wasn't located directly over the San Andreas fault line. Seems the location is more risky than seeing some sort of lake monster that people have attested to being made up since the lake ran dry for a period of time. The canyon is pretty!
- matt j of rialto , ca. on 2013-09-25 said:
- I just recently moved from the area. I fished elizabeth lake daily. Camped there 3 and 4 days the crappie bite was great. The monster/thunderbird was a no show. If you want haunted drive uo the street to lake hughes its small but very lonley. Go see..
- selma of granada hills, ca on 2013-07-22 said:
- I never knew that Elizabeth lake was dry till the 1971 earthquake...I do know that if it rains a lot, lake hughes and Elizabeth over flow their banks and form one lake over a mile long...I had a friend named jerry,who lived across the highway from the lake for 20 ears...he recently passed away from nose and throat cancer...I wonder if it had to do with the evil part of the lake...
- Dan Kilgore of Hemet, ca on 2013-07-14 said:
- Everyone who has commented on this subject is incorrect and information is wrong. As a kid growing up in the area in the late 1960s Lake Elizabeth was a dry lake bed that I used to ride my dirt bikes in. My parents used to own the Rock Store when it was actually a gas station There was never any water in lake elizabeth that I know of until after 1971 Earth Quake and then in about 1 year it filled up it is only maybe 15 ft deep at best. The story is about Lake Hughes which knowone has ever found the bottom. You need to correct your information. Thank you
- Andres Palma of Dallas, Texas on 2013-07-07 said:
- I grew up in Lancaster, and remember the stories of the Elizabeth lake being home to a monster. However, I do recall the drought in the early 70's when the lake was completely dry and never saw anything. During my teenage years, friends and I would hang out near the shore, and would hear noises and shreiks. Our imaginations got the best of us, but later realized that they were the sounds of coyotes and owls. I haven't been in the area since the late 90's, and do remember the location of the lake and surrounding terrain made for a spooky experience at night.
- Laura of Palmdale, ca on 2013-06-25 said:
- after living 4 yrs on Bouquet I can say there is definitely a presence there, and it's not a good one.. bring any old Indian or Mexican that is a spiritual person, don't tell them a thing, cuz they will tell you...
- Anonymous on 2013-06-21 said:
- While stationed in Cuba we could hear a loud whooping noise coming from the Cuban side of the wire. I was never able to find out what it was but one night while on patrol we were taking a break at Blind Beach the noise was coming from less than 50 yards from the gun trucks. I didn't see what it was but one of the other soldiers said he'd seen it before. It was a bird. Could it have been this bird? We had the weaponry to drop it but it didn't break cover. The noise was mechanical.
- Annette C. of Elizabeth Lake, Ca on 2013-05-08 said:
- The only monsters around the lake these days, are the coyotes & owls that steal you pets!
- Rick of Phoenix, Arizona on 2013-02-06 said:
- I remember the Lake Elizabeth Ranch Club in the mid 1950's. parents and some neighbors from the north SF Valley were members. fun memories of the swimming pool and horseback riding!
freeways and amusement (theme) parks were non existent in those days. We spent many weekends picnicking in Bouquet canyon, Soledad and other places north of the SF valley. However, only monster tales I remember we're Hollywood types, e.g., Frankenstein, Dracula, wolf man etc.?
- crystle of palmdale, california on 2012-10-25 said:
- iv gone fishing there many times i have friends that live there and iv never heard of seeing or hearing anything its a peaceful place full of nature
- Andy Kenyon of Woodland Hills, California on 2012-10-09 said:
- I lived in Lake Hughes from 1999 - 2007. Although I saw no evidence to compell me to believe the story, the son of the man whose house that I indeed purchased told me that he personally witnessed a blue orb hovering just outside the front door. Perhaps he drank too much at the Rock Inn ?
- Jaymee of Leona Valley, California on 2012-10-06 said:
- I have grown up going to that lake and it indeed is haunted. Everything about it is scary.
- chris nelson of lancaster, california on 2012-08-05 said:
- It's all true .and theirs a real pet cemetery in lake huges.
- Cliff and Fergie of now Florida, But Cliff grew up on lake, florida on 2012-07-06 said:
- onenight on are weekend fishing trips at nightWarren, Cliff and I was a collum of fire across the lake winding down the hill like a snake of torches. later that same night we heard something very large flying low over our heads making a flapping sound like a giant june bug all I know is there is something out their and it made me scared.
- Jeff of Tehachapi, Ca on 2012-07-01 said:
- As an LADWP employee, I inspected the LA Aqueduct tunnel which runs underneath Lake Elizabeth several times over the past 30 years. I'm glad I didn't know about the strange events until now (retired).
- Robert fritz of Lake hughs, California on 2012-06-29 said:
- There is nothing in the lake I was born and raised in the area my dad is 52 and has seen the lake completely dry ask and used to ride dirtbikes through it
- Andi M of Lake Havasu city, Arizona on 2012-06-27 said:
- I use to take my nephew fishing at Elizabeth lake. I believe that the devil created it and lives in it. It is the filthiest lake I have ever been too. People have to be crazy to go swimming in that swamp.
- linwood z of palmdale, ca on 2012-06-19 said:
- i just have to say that i have been fishing and swimming at lake elizabeth since i was about 13 i am now 31 and although it is a little creepy at night and there is some very weird sounds i have never seen any thing then the norm me and my now 5yr old elizabeth have alot of fun there year round night or day
- Jared of Lake Elizabeth ca 93532 , Cali on 2012-05-16 said:
- I have lived in lake Elizabeth , califorina above Palmdale , lancaster my whole intire im 20 now I've had a couple of friends that have seen this swomp like monster out fishing one night Came back to School Talking about this human shaped mossy figure in the night ( 8th Grade at h.e.l.u.s middle School ) now I've never seen that myself but I have seen and herd wierd sounds going boom in the night
- Steve Lopez of Lake Hughes, CA on 2012-05-10 said:
- We know that the original did fly towards the east..but visitors need to be wary as there a reports of other suspicious things that look similar! STAY AWAY!!
- Robert of Palmdsale, Ca on 2012-05-10 said:
- I've been to this lake and the impression I got got is that it is "dead". That is that there is no oxygen in the water. Now before all you science yahoo's write that I am nuts, check it out. There is a certain degree of O2 in water.
So how does this "monster" live in the lake and then fly to Arizona ?
- debbie walker of prince george, virginia on 2012-01-29 said:
- My father owns a swimming pool company called thunderbird pools in san bernandino california. we named the company after lake elizabeth thunderbird and the sign on the front office was a picture of the thunderbird from elizabeth lake
- Gigi of Edmonton, CANADA on 2012-01-02 said:
- After reading the facts about Elizabeth Lake, this is very intriguing and I plan to visit the lake this Fall of 2012 and see for myself what the hype is all about. Thank you
- warner of elizabeth lake, california on 2010-12-05 said:
- It is true about the monster of Elizabeth lake. Stay away and you wont be eaten. Please dont tempt this beast for your sakes and ours.
- strict9 of burbank, california on 2009-08-19 said:
- i believe the origin of this story was extracted from the pages of "on the old west coast, being further reminiscences of a ranger - major horace bell" or the original "reminiscences of a ranger" published in 1881, author mentioned above. i've only read the later & the story is there for sure! chapter 19 titled: "spit in the mouth of hell"
- MDLMUSIC of Lancaster, California on 2009-07-11 said:
- I've gone kayaking in Elizabeth Lake pretty much every weekend for the last two years. Never seen a monster, but there is always a lot of wildlife visible (herons, turtles, snakes, buzzards).
- deadgirl of Palmdale, California on 2009-05-19 said:
- I have been to this lake a million times and i have to admit it is pretty creepy and dirty but that's about it.
- Eve of San Diego, CA on 2007-07-24 said:
- I was intrigued by the suposed photo of the "Thunderbird" of Tombstone AZ, so I did an image search on the net. Right a way I found a photo. The story behind it was very interesting. http://www.gmdstudios.com/weblab/freakylinks/WWWFRE~1.COM/FREAKO~1/TAILS_~1/THUNDE~1.HTM
- The Field Guide to North American Monsters (1998) by Blackman, W. Haden, p: 76
- Haunted Places: The National Directory (2002) by Hauck, Dennis, p: 62
- Mysterious California (1988) by Marinacci, Mike, p: 97 - 100
- Strange California Monsters (2009) by Newton, Michael, p: 40 - 41
- Spooky California (2005) by Schlosser, S. E., p: 182 - 187
- LA Exposed (2002) by Young, Paul, p: 144 - 145
Last Edited: 2006-08-02