The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a mystery as ‘something not understood or beyond understanding’ an enigma. But what makes people so intrigued by mystery? You know the saying, ‘fearful of the unknown’ or in more psychological terms, xenophobia.
But that’s not really what we see in practice as more people tend to indulge in a good mystery story. It may be because, in a mystery, we are presented with a problem that needs a solution. We feel the need to labor at solving the puzzle and filling in the gaps that these mysteries leave behind. Such a mystery we find written in the Pleasant Hill Weekly Local on March 1, 1889 signed only by the initials M.S. It is an eerie tale of ghostly superstition surrounding today’s Angler’s Lake, also known as “Loch Leonard.”
I’m your guide, Christina Sommer and I invite you to take a seat in the assembly hall of memories. Welcome to The Bygone Society.
M.S. writes: “ The lake was uncommonly beautiful that night as it lay sleeping in the moonbeams, with scarcely a ripple upon its steel-bright surface. Far away over the hills to the north, the night bird hooted in loneliness with no other sound to disturb the midnight stillness save night’s own mystic murmurings, the music of low, sad winds, and the piteous moan of a watch dog’s howl down by the iron bridge.” He proceeded to sit upon a stump facing the water but this time of reflection was suddenly interrupted but the sound of splashing oars upon the lake. His attention was then moved to the area of the disruption. There, gliding slowly beneath the shadows of the overhanging tree branches he saw a boat. As the boat neared the deepest part of the lake on the south side, M.S. noticed that the boat was carrying 2 people, a large man and a small woman. M.S. writes: “ Suddenly there was a struggle in the boat, a splash in the water, a despairing cry, a gurgling sound, a fiendish laugh…” M.S. hurriedly scaled-down the water’s edge but the boat and its occupants were nowhere to be found and all was still once again.
As you may imagine, M.S. was bewildered, he returned home but sleep was far from him. The next morning he returned to the peculiar site. He met with an older man that lived near the head of one of the ravines which ran into the lake. M.S. related to the man all that had happened the night before. The older man shook his head and began to tell M.S. a story about what happened to him 3 months prior. As He was fishing one night, sitting still under the protection of engulfing shadows, he saw a man and a woman having a good time on a boat, talking amongst themselves, as their boat was passing his, he heard them quarreling, when they reached the location where M.S. described, he saw the man throw the woman into the water and described the sounds he heard, which were exactly the same audible noises that M.S. described earlier. The older man ran off, fearing that he too would be murdered because he was a witness.
The following morning the older man saw two men carrying something out of the river, that something looked a lot like a body wrapped in a sheet, which they then proceeded to take over the hills north of the lake which the older man assumed was her place of burial. From then on, at midnight, as soon as the wind blew from the east, the owls hooted over the icehouse, and a dog howled down by the bridge over the creek, inhabitants of the nearby neighborhood report receiving two ghostly visitors, fastened in the same event that led to that fateful night. Many have claimed to have seen the “phantom boat” of Lake Leonard and its mysterious occupants, locked in a frightful altercation. But as soon as any courageous soul sought to solve this mystery, the boat and everyone in it would disappear beneath the waves of the lake.
By 1890, the ‘fearful screech’ of the ‘phantom boat’ of Lake Leonard was considered to be a good omen by the townspeople. You’ve been listening to The Bygone Society where I share with you a bit of interesting history one morsel at a time. Thank you for listening, tune in next week for your weekly dose of The Bygone Society.