|Underwater Pyramids and Sea Serpents
Salvage diver, Adventurer, MIT grad and Milwaukee native Max Gene Nohl invented the first self contained underwater breathing apparatus(SCUBA). In the winter of
1937, he tested the suit and pioneered a helium/oxygen breathing mixture in a record breaking 420 foot dive to the bottom of Lake Michigan. The helium/oxygen
mixture idea was co-developed with fellow Milwaukeean Dr. Edgar End of the Marquette School of Medicine. In one bold move, the diving world took a quantum leap
forward and Milwaukee was it's ground zero. "The Deepest Dive" made international news and it's young diver was a sudden celebrity. Nohl immediately announced
plans to dive the wreck of the Lusitania and film the entire adventure as a feature documentary.
This was not the first dive using his new equipment. The previous summer had brought the veteran salvage diver to the pyramids of Rock Lake in Lake Mills,
For years, fishermen and pleasure boaters had reported seeing unusual underwater structures. They were well known in Indian lore as a Necropolis(city of the dead)
left behind by "Foriegner Kings"-a people who had inhabited the area 5,000 years before . The structures were first described as "pyramidal" in newspaper articles
in 1900 during a wave of pyramid mania that swept the Badger State. Max Nohl could'nt resist. He made a series of dives in the late summer. Underwater conditions
were difficult -at times murky, then suddenly clear, then very dark and almost black with silt. Toward the end of his last dive, he came across a tall pyramidal
structuremade of densely fitted small rocks. To the eye of the trained engineer, it was clearly man made. Max wanted to return to the lake and dive more extensively,
but it wasn't to be. Many years later, before he could return, he and his wife died in a tragic car accident that also took the life of soul singer, Jesse Belvin. The
undersea structures of Rock Lake remain a mystery and are the subject of ongoing research.
Lake Mills is a lovely town set in an ancient area. The great ruins of the Cahokian City of Aztalan is two miles east.
|The sightings began in Rock Lake (located in Lake Mills in Jefferson County). This is the same Rock Lake that contains mysterious burial structures that are
believed by some to be an underwater Necropolis left behind by an ancient, forgotten people. The area has a rich and ancient heritage. It's filled with burial and
effigy mounds and the ruins of the Cahokian outpost city of Aztalan lie a few miles to the east.
In 1869 a large serpent-like creature was first seen to be lurking along the shallows of Rock Lake. It was described as agressive, frequently hissing at onlookers.
Sightings were a common occurence. A Lake Mills resident named Fred Seaver claimed to have hooked it with a fishing line. "The creature grabbed the bait and
towed him a half mile before breaking his line". It soon had a name, "The Rock Lake Terror." In the summer of 1882, two men from Lake Mills, Ed McKenzie and a
Mr. Seybert were in rowboats, racing each other across the lake. Half way across, they saw an object that "looked like a submerged sandbar" almost directly in
their path. The sandbar suddenly came to life, raised it's "snake like head" out of the water, opened its jaws and then dove under the lake surface. Within seconds,
it rose out of the water again, this time right next to McKenzie's boat. McKenzie yelled out repeatedly, "Bring a gun! Bring a gun! Bring a gun!”
Men on shore saw what was happening, quickly commandeered a boat and rowed out to the two threatened boatmen. The serpent dove a second time and made
no more appearances that day.
A few miles from Rock Lake is Red Cedar Lake. In 1891, a sea serpent went on a week long rampage along its shores. It seized animals from surrounding farms,
carrying them still alive into the water. Later, their partially devoured remains were found lying in the muddy shallows. An area wide panic followed. In nearby Lake
Ripley, a growing resort area, summer cabin dwellers fled and business dried up. (At the time, it was thought that the two lakes were connected by an underground
river.) Then, after three decades of continual sightings and encounters, the monsters gradually, and quietly, went away.
Indian legends tell of a time when the Ho Chunk were camped on the shores of the Rock River, not far from Rock Lake, Lake Ripley and Red Cedar Lake.
"In this stream lived a huge and terrible monster. The older people of the tribe say this creature had a large head, awesome jaws, and body likened to a serpent. It
is said to have ranged the whole length of the stream, preying on both animals and men, as to which he most preferred no one knows. Hapless creatures that went
to the water to drink were frequently seized and swallowed. At all of the fording places this demon found hunting good. Indians crossing at these places were
promptly dragged beneath the water and never seen or heard of again. Some Indians believed that there were several of these monsters living in the waters of the
Rock River and made many offerings of tobacco and other desirable things to appease the wrath of the monsters."
The state record largemouth bass was caught on Lake Ripley in 1940, weighing 11 pounds, 3 ounces and Ole Evinrude, inventor of the outboard motor and long
time resident of Jefferson County, tested some of his early motors on the lake.
Compiled by Mary Sutherland
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