May 10, 2013

Search for Champ continues


PORT HENRY — The legendary Lake Champlain monster called Champ will be featured on the Canadian Travel Channel.

A film crew from the channel was in Port Henry for three days recently to interview residents and head out into the lake on a boat looking for Champ.

The boat was skippered by Capt. James Carroll of the Westport Marina, a mariner who’s seen Champ himself.


The show will air as a segment of the “Bogeymen” program in January 2014, Director Sid Zanforlin said.

“The show will look at not just Champ but Port Henry, Moriah and Westport — why people should come here, the scenic beauty of the area.”

The bilingual channel is known as Evasion in French-speaking Quebec, and this is one of the few episodes the Montreal-based video crew can drive to, Zanforlin said.

“Most of our other shows we have to fly. For this show, we got in the car and came down.”

With Zanforlin was Director of Photography Nik Petsilas and production assistant Roberto Bossa.


“Because it’s a travel show, we also try to cover the area where it occurs,” Zanforlin said. “We want people to go there.”

The program will feature the history of Port Henry and Moriah, including their early 1900s location as a film studio for such silent pictures as “The Perils of Pauline” and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

Producer Claire Cappelletti of CMJ Productions, the production company doing the program, said they explored much more than just the Champ legend.

“The series will be airing on the Travel Channel here in Quebec called ‘Canal Evasion.’ The goal is to sell the series internationally, so there may be other broadcasters down the line.”


One of those interviewed was former Adirondack Life Editor Jeffrey Kelly, a Port Henry resident.

“We (did) our interview with Jeff Kelly on the pier out onto the water,” Cappeletti said. “The other thing we are looking at is a bit of history on Champ from first sightings up to the sighting by those two fishermen.”

Anglers Peter Bodette and Richard Affolter said they saw Champ in August 2005 on the lake near the mouth of the Ausable River, and they had a video camera with them to record the creature’s movements. Their video appears to show an alligator-like animal about 15 feet long swimming in the lake.

Cappelletti said their points in the program will be that Native American tribes had their own legends about a creature in the lake and that Samuel de Champlain is often credited with being the first European to see Champ, though his diaries show he probably saw a large fish that natives called Chaousarou.

She said their research shows a Captain Crum saw a “black monster” in Moriah’s Bulwagga Bay in 1819, and that in 1873 showman P.T. Barnum offered a reward for a Champ hide to add to his World’s Fair collection.

Sandra Mansi of Bristol, Vt., who took the most famous photo of Champ on Lake Champlain in 1977, will also be on the show, Cappelletti said.

“She will be telling us her own story. I convinced her to do an interview.”

Mansi’s photo of a long-necked creature in the lake has been published in The New York Times and featured on numerous Champ broadcasts.

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