Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Legend of Altamaha-ha

I bet you never knew that Georgia had its own version of the Loch Ness Monster!!! Well, it does. One of the largest rivers in Georgia is the famous Altamaha River in the southeast portion of the state. The river actually empties in to the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Georgia. It is said to be one of the largest river basins in the country, and as such, there are a lot of tributaries to this river. Near my hometown in Montgomery County, the Ocmulgee and the Oconee Rivers come together to form the Altamaha. It is a wonderful sight.
Legend has it that in the waters of the Altamaha, near the city of Darien, there is a strange creature. It appears ever so often and sightings of this creature go back to the times before whites settled the area. The Tama Indians from that area told stories about the animal. According to Jim Miles in Weird Georgia, "Centuries ago, the Tama Indians first told tales of a huge water serpent that hissed and bellowed." In the 1920s, timbermen who rode the river reported sighting something that fits the description of Altamaha ha, also known as Altie. Other sightings include a Boy Scout troop from the 1940s and two officials from the Reidsville State Prison from the 1950s. One of the most recent reports was from 2002 when a man who was pulling a boat up the river near Brunswick reported seeing something over twenty feet in length and six feet wide break the water. The man reported that the animal seemed to emerge from the water to get air and then submerge again beneath the depths. Others who have seen the animal say that it has dull gray skin and looks to be spotted in some places.
There is some speculation that what people are seeing are snakes, dolphins who come inland from the coast, alligators, or even beavers. But some of those who have reported seeing the creature swear that they know the difference and are not seeing those things. One report mentioned that the animal swam under a boat and gave it a big "whack" with its long tail. Others speculate that the animal could be some oceanic cryptid that actually swims in to the Altamaha and spawns before going back out to sea.
The legend is quite popular in the McIntosh and Glynn County areas, which both border the Altamaha River and are on the coast. In fact, The Darien News has covered the story on many occassions. In addition, there was even a childrens book written on the topic by Ann Davis called The Tale of the Altamaha Monster. Perhaps Monsterquest should visit the Altamaha River and take a look around!!!