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Legends and Lore: The Storm Hag of Lake Erie

The Storm Hag

Ah, Lake Erie; beautiful beaches, historical sites, venomous storm hags- wait, venomous storm hags? Yes you read that right! The Storm Hag of Lake Erie is an old legend that goes back to at least the mid 1700s.

The storm hag is described as a rail thin, hideous demon of the lake. She has bright glowing yellow eyes that can pierce the darkness. Her skin is a sickly pale green. Her teeth are pointed and sharp like a shark’s. She is sometimes called Jenny Greenteeth, as her teeth are said to be a deep moss green. At the ends of her long arms are talon like claws that are dripping with venom. It is said that one touch of her claws is enough to kill a man instantly.

Stormy waves on Lake Erie

Stormy waves on Lake Erie

The Hag's Song

The storm hag lurks beneath the dark waters of Lake Erie near Presque Isle, waiting for unsuspecting ships to cross her path. When a ship draws near, she sings a song to lure the sailors to her.

“Come into the water, love

Dance beneath the waves

Where dwell the bones of sailor lads

Inside my saffron caves”

When her song is over and the sailors are transfixed, she summons a violent storm to toss the ship like a toy in the bath. As the sailors are thrown from the ship, she pulls them into her spindly arms and carries them below the crashing waves, never to be seen again.

Artist's rendering of the storm hag

Artist's rendering of the storm hag

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Real Life Disappearances

The storm hag has been blamed for centuries for the deaths and disappearances of numerous ships and sailors who have ventured out onto Lake Erie’s waters and never returned. In 1782, a ship was caught in a storm on the lake. The storm raged for well over an hour as the desperate sailors clung to ship and life alike. When the storm finally settled, the sailors saw they were near Presque Isle. As they tried to make their way back to port, the storm hag rose from the depths and attacked the ship. People on the shore could hear the anguished sailors as they watched the ship sink beneath the waves.

A host of other ships and sailors have gone missing on the lake over the years. Another notable example is the disappearance of the Clevco (an oil tanker) and the Admiral (a tugboat that was pulling the Clevco). During their voyage, a strange snow storm appeared on the lake. The Admiral disappeared with the towline angled toward the bottom of the lake, indicating the Admiral had sank. A distress call was sent out from the Clevco. The next day, the Clevco was found 15 miles away from it’s original location. The Civil Air Patrol called it in and then watched the ship disappear into the strange snow storm again. This was in 1942 and to this day, the ships and crewmembers have not been found.

Beneath The Waves

A local legend says you can hear the cries and screams of drowned sailors on Presque Isle just before or after a storm.

Lake Erie has been known as an unpredictable and large body of water for millennia. Many stories and legends originate from it’s dark depths. Are these deaths and disappearances simply the cause of random storms and waves? Or are they result of the storm hag luring her victims to their watery graves, to join her for all eternity in her saffron caves?

External References and Further Reading

© 2019 Lindsey Burek


Lindsey Burek (author) from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on April 18, 2019:

Thank you for reading! I had read a paragraph about it years ago in a ghost tours pamphlet from Lake Erie and thought it was an interesting story that needed more than a paragraph.

Larry Slawson from North Carolina on April 18, 2019:

I had never heard of this before. Thank you for sharing!

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