Bill Eggert

Bill Eggert

Another summer is on the way, and the beautiful western Pennsylvania weather entices locals with outdoor activities, such as fishing.

Those who surf the Internet of late have been fascinated by stories of large marine life that has been caught. Stories abound about 100-pound catfish and large turtles with the diameter of over 3 feet being pulled from the Mon River.

The murky depths of the Monongahela have held many secrets over the centuries, going back to a time when only American Indians roamed the area. They were the ones who named the river Monongahela, meaning “where banks cave in or erode.” The

130-mile-long river begins in Pittsburgh (where it joins the Allegheny to form the mighty Ohio River) and stretches down to the north-central part of West Virginia.

One of the most recent mysteries of the Mon was the disappearance of a World War II bomber, which crash landed in the Mon back in 1956. After floating on the river’s surface a short time, the large plane was seemingly swallowed by the frigid waters. Four of the six crewman survived; two did not. The plane was never found.

But perhaps the most amazing mystery to surface from the Monongahela River is the story of the bizarre sea creature that lives in the river. The creature is said to be half-man and half-fish.

It sounds like the “Gill Man” from the movie “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” Of course, since this is Pittsburgh, the monster should be named the “Creature from the Black and Gold Lagoon.”

Humor aside, the stories are serious, and begin as far back as the French and Indian War (1754-1763). Records from back then report of skirmishes between British soldiers and bizarre creatures from the river. The Indians of the local tribes there named the creature the “Monongy,” after the river that spawned it.

Fast-forward another 200 years, and reports of sightings continued in the Pittsburgh environs. There was a rash of sightings of the Monongy beginning in the early 1930s and lasting through the end of the 1950s. Sightings were reported weekly and the Pittsburgh police department responded by creating a task force specifically to deal with the aquatic creature.

No proof of the existence of the Monongy. Until 2003, that is. A fishing boat (privately owned) provided not only a report of a sighting, but also provided photographic evidence of the creature as well. The photos were displayed online for a brief period before they were suddenly and mysteriously removed. Conspiracy theorists conjecture that the government moved in and confiscated the photos to deny the Monongy’s existence.

It is reported that cryptozoologists from around the world continue to navigate the Monongahela River on a yearly basis to establish tangible evidence of the Monongy’s existence. Time will tell if they are successful.

When you Google “Monongy” today you come up with a race called “Search for Monongy.” This swimmers’ race originated in Pittsburgh in 2010 and has occurred every year since then. The race occurs in the Allegheny River, staring at Heinz Field, and goes to the Roberto Clemente Bridge, where swimmers turn around and head back to Heinz Field. It is a race only; there is no search for the Monongy involved, probably due to the fact they are swimming in the Allegheny River and not the Mon.

So does the Monongy actually exist, or did it exist? Doubters claim the legend was created by the founders of the swimmers’ race. Other say that an aquatic monster living for over 200 years, especially in the polluted Mon River, is unreal.

Yet there are the believers out there: the ones who believe in Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and UFOs. They are the dreamers, the romantics, the visionaries. They see things that others do not. They are not Doubting Thomases. They are true believers. Does the Monongy exist? I’ll keep you posted.

Bill Eggert is a Johnstown resident. He can be reached at Eggert2020@live.com. He writes an occasional column.

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