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Centuries-old unsolved mysteries deep within Lake Chelan

Some historic tales describe a 75-foot long sea monster. #k5evening

CHELAN, Wash. — With a depth of nearly 1,500 feet, Lake Chelan is the third-deepest lake in the United States. And its bottom has never been explored.

Lake Chelan has been attracting tourists since the 1880s and spawning tales of mystery from the beginning.

Chelan Museum storyteller Don Loyd said Native residents spoke of seeing sea monsters rising from the lake's depths. This lore was later repeated by white settlers, including in 1910, by three men who reported seeing something while standing on a dock.

“They saw this big monster come up out of the water,” Loyd said, “And one man described it as being 75 feet long. That's big.”

Credit: Chelan Historical Society
The mysteries of Lake Chelan are older than the town itself.

Others have spotted upheavals of water, some large enough to capsize boats. One account from 1899 speculated that an underwater volcano could have been the cause, a theory that was never confirmed.

“But then there've been huge waves that have been seen in more recent times,” Loyd said.

Some mysteries have arisen on dry land, like the new schoolteacher, a century ago, who came and went in a single day.

“She was there one hour and was never seen again.”

Some claimed she left town on a stagecoach, but her reasoning and her destination remain mysteries.

Credit: Chelan Historical Society
The whereabouts of the school teacher were never discovered.

Opened in 1913, Chelan's Ruby Theatre is the oldest continuously operating cinema in the Northwest.

“Ruby, for whom the Ruby Theatre is named, was a young girl,” Loyd explained.

Around 1919, Ruby's stepfather murdered her mother, then took his own life. But whatever became of the orphaned girl?

“She did disappear.”

More than 70 years later, Ruby’s granddaughter came to town. She revealed that Ruby had been raised by relatives back East and lived a long and rewarding life.

“The history of Ruby was now known,” Loyd said.

Although Chelan still holds many secrets, it turns out that some of its mysteries can have a happy ending.

Credit: Ruby Theater
The theatre was named after young Ruby and it's silver screens were shrouded in mystery after her disappearance.

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