North of Petersburg, Alaska is Thomas Bay, also known menacingly as the Bay of Death by the native populations because of a devastating landslide in 1750 that claimed 500 villagers. Since that time, the land was thought to be cursed and little activity happened over the years. It wasn’t until the 1900’s gold rush era that Thomas Bay developed its most infamous history. Its a story that combines a cursed remote lake, a shapeshifting half-man, half sea otter, and the gold rush. What could be more Alaskan?
The Tlinglit’s legends desrcibe the Kushtaka
as being a shape shifting
, half man, half otter trickster. It’s been known to lure fishermen and chlidren away from their loved ones with whistles and by mimicking calls of a baby crying. Some accounts of the story describe the Kushtaka as ripping the wayward soul to pieces , while other versions tell of the kushtaka changing the victim into a Kushtaka themselves. Local lore also mentions that no one should speak the kushtaka’s name, especially three times in a row. This is thought to evoke the beast. The creatures are said to live throughout southeast Alaska.
One of the most famous descriptions of the the Kushtaka folklore surrounds Thomas Bay. In the 1900s, A gold prospector
by the name of Harry Colp wandered into the cursed land near Patterson Glacier in search of gold. In his eye witness account, known as “The Strangest Story Ever Told, ” Colp reports traveling into Thomas Bay and discovering a Half Moon
shaped lake. It’s here that the story gets crazy. Click here
to read the actual story.
The Kushtaka myth lives strong in Southeast Alaska
. Next time your out on the water, remember this tale. You might not be alone out there in the vast Tongass National Forrest. Happy Halloween! Strange Tails Image Gallery Here