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The Monster in Lake Elizabeth

Bigfoot comes and goes through our valley, but there is another cryptid said to have lived here more permanently. Though we’re a desert community, the Antelope Valley used to have its own lake monster in Lake Elizabeth. As the largest naturally occurring lake in Los Angeles county, Lake Elizabeth inspired distinctive legends about its origins. According to The Old West Coast by Horace Bell, the legend goes that the lake was carved out by Satan and made a home to a terrible beast.

Sketch of Bigfoot, winged monster and alien ship.
Drawing by Liz Moore illustrating Bigfoot, the Elizabeth Lake Monster, and a UFO.

A Spanish lieutenant called Pico was searching the Mojave for lost missionaries, including Father Junipero Serra. As Pico and his men struggled to find the missionaries, their water supplies dwindled. In a fit of frustration, Pico declared that he would sell his soul if only he could find Father Serra. The devil then erupted from the ground, ready to collect Pico’s soul, but when the lieutenant brandished his crucifix, the demon fled.

The next day, Pico and his men found a lake where the devil had sprung. Originally called “La Laguna del Diablo,” strange things happened around the lake for many years. Ranches mysteriously burned, and residents caught sight of a beast living in the lake. Don Guillermo Embustero y Mentiroso, a descendant of Spanish explorers, recalled in 1930 the sight of the monster, “A great whistling, hissing, screaming roar issued... so near to us that we could smell the nauseating, fetid breath of the monster.”

Another observer described his encounter with the beast near its lair: “It is a mouth of hell … Frightful and unearthly noises have emanated from those depths. Screams, shrieks, groans as though Hell itself might live there.”

Horace Bell’s book suggests that the monster met its end in the late 1880s. He describes an encounter where a man called El Basquo Grande was able to coax the monster from the lake and chase it away. Taking flight, the lake monster flew from California, heading eastward. Shortly thereafter, it’s said that two ranchers in Arizona shot down the beast.

Though this version of the tale ends rather abruptly, others have suggested that the monster remains in its watery den. Sightings of the Lake Elizabeth Monster were relatively frequent through the 1860s to the 1890s. Since then, the most recent sighting was in 1989, when two fishermen claimed to see a monster “bigger than a whale, with wings like a bat, a head like a bulldog,” in the lake, and which stank terribly.

Since this last sighting, no one has claimed to see the monster. Perhaps it was really killed by the Arizona ranchers, or perhaps it never really existed. It could even still be down there, hidden away underwater. Whatever the case, the Lake Elizabeth monster makes an interesting addition to Antelope Valley history.


MOAH Collections

Kraus, Joe. “The Devil built this Valley road,” Antelope Valley Ledger-Gazette. November 12, 1982.

Skeen, Jim and David Foy. “Strange phenomena afoot and aflight,” Antelope Valley Press. July 16, 1989.


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