Did mermaids once swim in the Susquehanna River?
Old newspapers can be a treasure trove of cryptid sightings and in this case, a fisherman on the Susquehanna River claims that back in 1881 on several occasions he saw a black-haired mermaid while he was fishing. Now I am a skeptic on the subject of the existence of mermaids, but who am I to argue with eyewitness testimony?
‘the face of a woman and beautiful glossy black hair’
According to the original article, Mr. Henry Loucks, considered a reliable source, reported that on at least 5 occasions while fishing, that he had seen a mermaid in the waters near Dugan’s Run.
While Dugan’s Run doesn’t come up on any modern maps, the location is given as being about one mile above Accomac. This would put the location approximately the confluence of Codorus Creek and the Susquehanna River. This location seems like a prime fishing spot, so I can see why both Mr. Loucks and a mermaid would be there fishing.
“It has the face of a woman and beautiful glossy black hair, but as it only shows itself down to the shoulders,” Mr. Loucks told the paper. Additionally, he added that all of the sightings had taken place early in the morning or as it was getting dark.
The Original Article On The Susquehanna Mermaid
I like finding the original sources when possible to eliminate as much of the Telephone Game distortion that stories get when they are told and retold. Here is a reprint of the original article of Mr. Louks mermaid sightings from the June 8th, 1881 edition of the York Daily.
Usually, says the Marietta Register, there comes to us from fishermen and skippers, reports of sea serpents and other curious things seen off the coast of Massachusetts, and they have had a monopoly of the wonderful about long enough. No doubt the “Hub of the Universe” attracts many things in the way of natural history; but it is not the only place in the world that nature exhibits its rarities.
One of our oldest fishermen reports the discovery of one of these rare nondescripts, in the river about one mile above town, in the deep water opposite Dugan’s run. He has already seen it five times; always either early in the morning or late in the evening.
He says it comes to the surface, looks about it, then gradually sinks down leaving its hair floating on top of the water for a moment or so and finally disappears. It has the face of a woman and beautiful glossy black hair, but as it only shows itself down to the shoulders, he cannot tell what the other end is like.
He says he could shoot it but is afraid he might be arrested and tried for murder, and it would bring him into trouble. On being asked if it had a comb or looking glass with it. “It might have had, but he didn’t see it” and supposes it has a cave somewhere in the bottom of the river under the deep water.
Mr. Henry Loucks, the fisherman above alluded to, is well known in town, and he is considered as reliable as any fisherman on the river. We are in hopes that the mermaid may be captured alive, if possible, or dead, if it cannot be had any other way, and guarantee him a safe delivery out of his troubles if he shoots it.York Daily – June 8th, 1881
Not Just A One-Off Event
While we could easily take the tales of a mermaid in the Susquehanna river as a fun fisherman’s tale, what do we do when another fisherman several years later reports the same thing?
While there are few details, there is another fisherman who claims to have seen a similar mermaid on that same river.
“something that had the form of a woman … with the upper part of her body exposed to his gaze.” he reported.
This time the creature was seen near Brushy Island, which is about 20 miles downstream of Accomac. Apparently, the fisherman had sight of her for a full five minutes before it vanished from view.
How Do We Explain These Mermaid Sightings?
Mermaids have been being reported for centuries, all across the globe. Are they just the hopeful imaginings of lonely and possibly inebriated fishermen and sailors, or is there something more at play here?
As I often say, there is more going on in our mundane world than most care to admit. Could a mermaid or two have once swam the waters of the Susquehanna River? It seems unlikely, but with two eyewitnesses that had extended and multiple sightings, it can’t be ruled out.