"Mystery of the Carolina Woods," an article published in this month's issue of Wildlife in North Carolina magazine, suggests that a Nessie-like monster may live in Lake Norman.
"Normie" was named by Matt Myers, Web designer and creator of www.LakeNormanMonster.com. Since there aren't any valid photographs of Normie, the site features a cartoon-like rendering.
For those unfamiliar with Normie, below are excerpts from some of my columns over the years:
"Normie, the Lake Norman Monster: Is it a hoax, or is it real? That question has been asked by Lake Norman visitors for more than a quarter-century. At first, its existence was only a rumor by individuals who claimed to see something very large swimming in the lake."
Next were tales from anonymous scuba divers inspecting the dam. "As they swam near the bottom of the lake, a burst of water pushed them toward the rocks, and something large swimming above them turned the water black by obscuring the sunlight. The astonished divers freaked out!"
"Hundreds of monster sightings have been reported since - so many, in fact, that Myers developed a Web site for people to post their observations. In 2007, 10 incidents were reported. More have followed.
"Matt learned years ago that those who report sightings of space ships hovering overhead, mermaids, monsters or alligators in the lake are viewed with suspicion by their peers. He wanted a venue to welcome such discussions without fear of reprisal or undue criticism.
"While some sightings are suspect, Matt believes there is enough substance to think there might be a creature lurking below the water's surface! He says, 'The following comments give credence to a monster theory and bear further investigation.'
"'Its eyes were the size of basketballs.'
" 'It had a huge body with two large fins.'
"'I was swimming in the northern part of the lake, when I saw the water divide, and something was coming toward me.'
"When asked why the interest in 'Normie,' Matt said, 'Other large lakes have legendary monsters, so why not Norman? It's the state's largest lake, with water depths to 130 feet, and it has more than 500 miles of shoreline...
"He went on to say, 'Newspaper articles about record catfish from Lake Norman, stories about big garfish, stockings of grass carp (that grow to huge portions), and reports of people catching the dreaded snakehead fish have everyone scanning the water.'
"In closing, Matt cited a rumor about a biological experiment that possibly went astray. It seems that years ago, Arkansas blue catfish and Wyoming buffalo carp were cross-bred in hopes of producing a fish that would grow to 1,000 pounds and provide excellent table fare. Rumors are that these fish were stocked in Lake Norman. To date, none has been caught."
The Web site (www.lakenormnamonster.com) is loaded with reports of unusual sightings - a fun place to visit.