He first surfaced in the papers in April 2006. Then chased down by video production media in June (Keystone Extra). By July 2006 Ray had gone national (The Sun). His tale has become as big as his tail. Its official, Raystown Ray is here to stay and making a big splash in the waters of Raystown Lake. From the accounts in April, we know Ray today is around 50 to 60 feet long. He is disputably herbivorous (plant eater), and extremely elusive.
The question that remains is “How long has ‘Ray’ been here?” Is he a product of the old dam, or did he come with the new dam? Owner of Seven Points Marina (1972) and founder of Jim’s Anchorage (1948) Jim Filson would argue that he’s been here much longer, and has used the years, as well as, plentiful carp to feed his growth. “I’d say it was around 25 or 30 feet in length, when I first saw it,” explained Filson. He continued by recalling a time when he almost postponed the annual Raystown Ski Club Show because of “Ray’s” presence. The Raystown Ski Club was a group that consisted of “youngsters of all ages.” Ranging from 5 up to 50, the area amateur skiers practiced all during the months leading up to the big show in August to perform with, what Filson describes as, “a professional touch.” Events included spectacular jumps off of the ski ramp, double pyramid formations, water ski ballet, slalom skiing, and even barefoot skiing. Traffic would jam and the grandstands would fill with anticipation for this yearly event, so one could only imagine the disappointment in the fans if the show would have been cancelled.
“All of us at the anchorage had known that thing had been in the lake and tried to keep it quiet,” but on the morning before the show when Filson and buddies were surveying the lake this creature would not stay hidden.
“I didn’t want any boats to hit it, but when the show traffic began to show up, the boats must have scared him off.” Filson snapped a shot of the creature that day and has kept the picture to himself until now. To date, this is the first documented tale and picture of what we now believe to be “Ray” himself.
When asked what he called the creature in 1962, Filson said “I called it great for business. We were lucky to have him then and we should be lucky he’s still around today.” Jim’s daughter (Pam Prosser) is a former Executive Director of the Raystown Lake Region Visitors Bureau. When pressed for a comment on Ray, Prosser had this to say. “I think if we embrace ‘Ray’ as our own mascot, we will have just one more reason to be proud to call this lake in The Alleghenies our home.”
Since the sightings back in April, there have been several reports found in the Wildlife Sightings report in the visitor center and on www.raystownray.com. The following passage was an actual report found on www.raystownray.com back on July 8, 2006.
“I was enjoying a morning of fishing on 20 June 2006 right straight across from 7 points marina. The sun was starting to make the morning come to life and the fish were starting to jump. It was about 6am and I seen what thought was a fish, maybe a musky, come out of the water and grab a stick. The stick was about 3 or 4 feet long, and the "fish" was out of the water as far as the stick was long, not showing the tail end. When I came home I told my wife what I had seen and said that it looked like a large leg coming out of the water and grabbing the stick. I joked and said that I would have liked to seen the rest of it. Today is 8 July 2006 and my son told my about Ray and I look up the web site, which I never heard of till today. Now I think that maybe I didn't need to see the rest, but could it have been?”
Ray continues to elude even the most avid wildlife enthusiasts. However it is the searching for Ray that makes your time in the Raystown Lake Region well spent. So pack you binoculars, take your camera, head out into the wild and see if you can catch a glimpse of Raystown Ray. Oh, and don’t forget the marshmallows… We’ve been told he likes them.
Ray was investigated in April 2010 by the SyFy network television show "Fact or Faked Paranormal Files." Although their results were inconclusive, the investigation was conducted using some innovative tactics and experiments. Check it out here!
A previous investigation done in a more tongue-in-cheek method was conducted by the crew of "Keystone Edge." It can be seen below.