In 1855, at Silver Lake in Wyoming County, New York, a giant serpent-like monster was sighted by several eyewitnesses. In time the events were branded a hoax and attributed to a local hotelier who allegedly created the monster from wire and canvas, inflated it with a large blacksmith's bellows, and manipulated and propelled it by ropes.
Actually, the hoax story is itself quite a yarn and does not account for earlier reported sightings or for those two to three miles from the alleged mechanism or for sightings of a pair of creatures seen at the same time on Silver Lake. (For a proposed solution to the case, see Joe Nickell, "Investigative Files: The Silver Lake Serpent, Inflated Monster or Inflated Tale?" Skeptical Inquirer, March/April 1999, pp. 18-21.)