~ Written By Stephanie Hope ~

Lake Champlain is an old lake steeped in both history and mystery. Discovered in 1609 by French explorer Samuel de Champlain, it’s celebrating its 400th anniversary this year. A beautiful lake serving as the border between Vermont, New York and Canada, it lies nestled between the Green and Adirondack Mountain ranges. The lake is enormous, stretching 110 miles into Canada, 12 miles across at its widest point and is over 400 feet deep. At one point, in 1998, it was even granted the label as the Sixth Great Lake, which due to public outcry in the Great Lake regions that status was revoked only a few months later.

So why wouldn’t people think that a lake monster – a monster locals refer to as Champ – resides here?

Reports of Champ have dated back to the 1800’s. It is even rumoured that Champlain himself caught a glimpse of Champ while fighting the Iroquois on the shores of the lake…but that tale is most likely an add-on to the legend and no recorded evidence of this has ever been found. The first recorded sighting of Champ was in 1883, the most recent in May of 2009, a cell phone video taken by Eric Olsen as he stood on the point of Oakledge Park, in Burlington, Vermont.

Much debate has been raging about Mr. Olsen’s video and what exactly it was he recorded that day; I’ve heard everything from a moose to a deer to a log. What exactly could it be? Here is a picture of what he recorded on the morning of May 31:

If you note, the anomaly is moving in front of a stationary buoy and in the background you can see the city of Burlington, as well as the historic oil cribs (which are the three block-like structures in the water to the left of the ‘something’). This particular part of the lake is very rocky, lined with low cliffs and ledges and the beach at this part of Oakledge Park is formed by a small inlet. It is also very shallow where the buoy is located at only ten feet deep. Mr. Olsen was standing on the farthest point of the beach you can get, on an ‘arm’ that juts out into the lake, a rocky piece of land shown here on this satellite image map taken from Google maps:

There has been much discussion about the exact location of the buoy, as people try to determine the size of the ‘something’ that was in the water that morning. Recently I took a trip to Burlington to visit my family and while I was there I made sure to carve out some time to go to Oakledge Park myself and take some pictures of the beach, the point, the buoy and the oil cribs. Pictures can be misleading though, much less a cell phone video, and I was surprised at how close the buoy is to the shore as I had forgotten since it’s been a few years since my last trip to this park.

The buoy is especially close when you’re standing out on the point. From the beach, it’s two hundred feet out, from the point a mere sixty. Here is a map taken from Google maps to illustrate the location of the buoy, the cribs and where Mr. Olsen was standing as he filmed his video. The creature was swimming in from the broad lake, between him and the stationary buoy and as you can see, the buoy is quite close to where he was standing:

CLICK for larger image

The park (which you can see in the above image surrounding the tennis courts) is quite popular in Burlington, and the areas surrounding the park are very populated. There are many large businesses located within walking distance of the park (one being General Dynamics), homes and a heavily used bike path with a lot of foot traffic. Many boats, both commercial and recreational, use this part of the lake, not to mention the myriad swimmers, kayakers, and fishermen. Burlington is the “Queen City” in Vermont, with a population of around 40,000, much more when the colleges and universities that are in Burlington are in session and is known for its recreational sports on the lake.

The images below are photographs I took on my digital camera of the immediate area where the video was filmed. I stood in what I thought was the spot where Olsen was, only I made sure that the end of the point was visible in the picture to demonstrate that it was indeed the exact place he was. This is where Olsen was standing, right at the end of the point almost in the water:

Because not everyone is from Burlington and knows the area as well I do since I grew up there, I took a picture of the beach itself to illustrate what kind of area the video was filmed. The beach where he filmed it; on the left side of the photograph is where he was standing:

I also hiked around the ledges to the right of where it was filmed to take a picture from across where he was standing.  In the background, you can see one of the cruise ships that regularly sail this area as they tour the lake:

So what was it that Olsen filmed that early morning of May 31? Champ? An injured moose? Was it just a piece of driftwood erratically bobbing in the water as it floated toward shore? Was it a hoax? Mr. Olsen made it very clear in his post on You Tube that he filmed ‘something’ in the waters that morning; he never said the word ‘Champ’. Since the media whirlwind after his one and only interview with local press, he has ceased giving interviews and is trying to stay out of the public’s eye.

Given all the evidence and information regarding the lake in this area, what do you think it was?