Historic marker pays homage to Champ, Bulwagga Bay

A Pomeroy Foundation fabled origins marker was unveiled recently to celebrate Moriah's Bulwagga Bay as the place where Champ has been spotted most often and the legend associated with the creature. From left are researcher Andrea Anesi and Moriah Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava.Press-Republican Photo/Lohr McKinstry 

MORIAH – A new legendary origin marker acknowledges Moriah's Bulwagga Bay as the home of underwater denizen Champ.

A ceremony recently unveiled the William G. Pomeroy Foundation Legends and Lore marker next to the picnic pavilion at the Bulwagga Bay Town Campground in Moriah’s Port Henry hamlet.

Champ enthusiast Andrea Anesi helped the town apply to the foundation for the marker, which was installed by Moriah Highway Superintendent Jamie Wilson and his crew. An adjacent interpretive sign panel was set in place by Town Buildings and Grounds Superintendent Thomas Cowin and town workers.

“We’re excited to recognize two of our local legends, Bulwagga and Champ, and add another unique point of interest to our town,” Anesi said at the dedication. “The legend of Bulwagga is not only a tale of love, jealousy, and murder, but also an origin story for our legendary lake creature.

“Thank you to the Town of Moriah for taking this project on, in particular (Supervisor) Tom Scozzafava for all his help with the marker location,” she continued.

Scozzafava helped Anesi unveil the marker, which was greeted by applause from a group of about 20 spectators.

“A lot of work goes into getting a sign from the Pomeroy Foundation,” Scozzafava told the crowd. “They’re not easy to get. So thanks to Andrea and Kyle (Miller, her husband) for doing this.”

Miller designed the interpretive sign next to the marker, which details the legend of a Native American woman named Bulwagga, who was killed by a jealous lover on the shores of Lake Champlain.

Her killer than plunged in himself, calling her name, and was turned into the lake monster now called Champ.

Settlers who came later heard the story and named the bay Bulwagga in her honor.

The text is taken from the Port Henry High School 1923 yearbook in which it first appeared.

“Thank you to Home of Champ for designing and sponsoring the interpretive sign which displays the full text of the Bulwagga legend,” Anesi said. “And most importantly, thank you to the William G. Pomeroy Foundation for making this marker possible through their Legends and Lore Marker Grant Program.”

The Syracuse-based foundation couldn’t have a representative at the ceremony, but sent a letter to be read.

“The markers we fund are well-researched, with sources reviewed by professional folklorists or historians, depending on the marker program,” the foundation said. “With this roadside marker for Champ, you share a unique aspect of your community’s heritage. We are proud to have a role in making this possible, and extend our appreciation to the hard work of the grant recipient, the Town of Moriah."

Ellen McHale, executive director of New York Folklore in Schenectady, vetted the application for the marker, the letter said.

“It will stand as a testament to your cultural heritage for generations to come,” the foundation concluded.

Many of the 300 sightings of the creature called Champ since the early 1800s have been recorded in Bulwagga Bay, some describing it as a serpentine or humped animal more than 10 feet long.

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