The devil of Paasvesi Lake

The devil of Paasvesi Lake drew the border between Savo and Karelia

There are probably almost as many stories about the devil of Paasvesi Lake and its appearance in Savonranta as there are seers. Most often, the devil has appeared as a round ball of light on the back of Paasvesi. It may have appeared from a distance or even come close to a boat on the riverbank, as if out of curiosity.


Sulo Strömberg, an amateur archaeologist and historian from Kerimäkelä, has collected stories and visual experiences of the phenomenon known as the Paasvesi Devil. The earliest sighting of the light phenomenon probably dates back to the 1700s, when the devil was said to have drawn the border between Savo and Karelia. Strömberg heard this story from a deceased resident of Savonranta.

The breathtakingly beautiful landscape is not the only reason why Paasvesi is famous. Its round shape and great depth give a hint of the way it was born. Likewise, there are deviations in the normal magnetism of the bedrock in the region. Paasvesi is one of the lakes found in our country created by a meteorite impact. A long time ago, 1,900 million years, a bright ball of fire lit up the sky, which then finally hit the ground with consequences that can still be observed.

Traces of the collision can also be seen at Paholaikivi on the western edge of the lake. On the sides of the rocks you can see the so-called sprinkler cone. They are created when the structure of the stone changes under the influence of a strong pressure wave.

The devil saved Kaino Kekkel

In the 1700s there lived a man in Savonranta, a real “Satanic Savoy” as the Karelians called him at that time. Perhaps the man’s parents had a wicked sense of humour, because he was named Kaino Ensi Yritys, surname Kekkeli. Kaino’s main occupation was fishing.

Even then, the Karelians considered the shallow, fishy bays behind Paasiniemi to be their own. However, Kaino, who was known as Kalarosmo, directed most of his fishing trips to those very shoals, where he could catch all kinds of fish and in unlimited quantities.
One evening in July, Kaino Kekkeli rowed across the Paasvesi Lake to his familiar fishing spots. But there were Karelians on watch, with the firm intention of giving the fisherman such a ride that he would not immediately forget it.

Kaino, who had been rowing for a long time, could not row away from the rested Karelians, but the enemy inevitably caught up with him.
Then Kaino had cried aloud that the devil would come and get them, since no other help seemed to be coming. Immediately a ball of light had started from the back of the Paasvesi Lake to come towards him at a tremendous speed.

It had overtaken Kaino’s boat and pushed straight at the Karelians.
The ball of light, which Kaino had hastily christened the Devil of Paasvesi, frighteningly escorted the pursuers to their homes. Then it returned to the man from Savonranta and stayed in front of the bow of his boat to hover, commanding the man to follow it.

So the fisherman sat down on the stern, and went off rowing to follow the devil across the Paasvesi Lake. The man was already very tired when the devil gave him his first break for food and rest at Rajasaare. From there the journey continued, and the second time they took a rest at Myhkyränsaari. The third break the ball of light allowed Kaino to stop at the great Olkisaari.

In Karkonsaari, the rest was a little longer, but not too long. The impatient devil urged Kaino onwards to Hietasaari, where the rower was already starting to complain that he couldn’t take it anymore.
He kept Kaino rowing to Paskoluoto, where the devil would have continued his journey.

There, however, the man shouted that “from now on you’ll have to keep on travelling, I’m not going on. I’m going to the pigs, I’m going to the pigs, I’m going to the pigs’ house”.
The ball of light listened to the old man’s long drawn-out morning sermon, nodded to himself and finally took such a sprint towards Paasvesi’s back that the old man couldn’t keep up with him.

In the villages, Kaino Kekkeli told of his experience. The word spread far and wide. When the border between Savo and Karelia was drawn on the ridge in 1769, it was decided to make it run along it, that the devil of Paasvesi had told Kaino Kekkeli years earlier. That border exists and is still in force today.

Sunken ship or UFO?

There has been some research into the aurora borealis phenomenon, but no one has yet been able to give a clear explanation. There are many seers of the phenomenon, and the phenomenon cannot be attributed to the imagination of all seers. The phenomenon of light has appeared in Savonranta in many forms. At least a ball of light, a flame, a white light in the shape of a full blade of hay and a large bonfire have been recorded.

The last publicly reported sightings of the Paasvesi Devil are only a couple of years old. The best chances of seeing it are on darkening autumn evenings. Three years ago and since then it has been seen reddish, until then always bright. The late Jouko Strömberg of Kerimäkelä saw it in the 1960s when building bridges, like the front end of a moped, soaring over a one-tiered reef.

The old people of Savonranta have claimed that the devil rises from a Russian warship that sank in Paasvesi. Such a ship has indeed sunk there. There have also been sightings of the ghost of a large yacht, which moves around Paasvesi full of people celebrating and disappears when a living person gets too close.

– Then it has been said that an UFO has fallen into the Paasvesi Lake. A ball of light is thought to rise from that mothership occasionally to explore the world. I even have a wooden model of that ship,” says Sulo Strömberg with a smile.

The devil of Paasveden Lake

An early autumn phenomenon

Sylvi Karvinen from Savonranta said she has seen the phenomenon of light, known as the Paasvesi Devil, three times in her 84 years of life.
– The first time was sometime in the 1950s. My husband and my 12-year-old daughter and I were fishing on a lagoon when it appeared in the form of a large midsummer coconut on the lake, burning. In the blink of an eye it changed location and disappeared.

The second time, Karvinen was with her late husband, winding up. He noticed that his neighbour had also gone out on the water when the flame light, which looked like an old-fashioned wind light, began to appear.

– He said something in a louder voice, and then the light disappeared and never came on again.
The third time it was again bright daylight. The flame-like light was in a hurry, for it was moving swiftly across the Lake.
– It was a phenomenon of early autumn. Sometimes in the form of a burning blade of hay, sometimes in the form of a ball, it could be seen from the window of the barn. We didn’t know how to fear or wonder about it,” says Tero Turtiainen from Savonranta.

He says his uncle once got about 50 metres from the devil by rowing. On that occasion it had been in the form of a haystack.
– He was about to shoot it, but the guys on the boat told him not to.
Tero Turtiainen’s wife Leena has never seen the phenomenon, although the couple have been married and have lived in a house on the beach for about 30 years.
So it’s been a while since it was last seen through the windows of the family home.

The devil stays in the Paasvesi Lake

The area around the Savonranta bridges is a favourite place for the light phenomenon. Once, a group of boys happened to fall asleep under the bridge during the snow. The boys started bombarding the devil with snowballs.
– It got mad and took off at a terrific speed towards Paasvesi,” Turtiainen recalls the boys’ story.

The devil has made Savonranta, and Paasivesi in particular, his home. It never appears on the Pyyvesi side or in other places.
Kalevi Kinnunen, the captain of the M/S Leva, who is from Savonlinna but born in Savonranta, has seen the same light phenomenon several times.
– Once, in winter, it was already quite dark and we were on our way home with a fishing friend. He noticed someone coming towards us with a lamp. But then the light just disappeared and there was no one on the ice.

Once, the phenomenon happened to young Kinnuse and his friends on a camping trip. The young women who were with them were asking questions about what was going on.
– I figured I wouldn’t tell or the tents would pile up quickly. Then I told them in the morning, which was better. I have also seen this phenomenon on other trips.
Kinnunen says that the light phenomenon cannot be a reflection, because it always runs away from people. What it is then, he cannot say for sure or even guess.

Searching for the devil on a cruise

For three autumns, Kinnunen has been on board the ship to transport people on cruises called The Devil’s Quest in Paasvesi. On the first cruise, half a dozen cruise guests who happened to be on deck had a visual sighting of a light phenomenon. Their reflections on the experience were also heard on TV2’s ‘Camera rounds’ programme, which was filmed on the cruise at the time.

No sightings were reported on the second and third years of the cruise. Was the stormy weather a factor in 2006, or was the devil at the bottom of the water waiting for his present?
Sulo Strömberg’s book ‘Around the villages of Kerimäki and Savonranta – stories about the devil in Paasvesi’ was published during the cruise. One of the books was packed in a tightly sealed bottle and dropped into a large, heavy sack tied up in Paasvesi, 61 metres below the surface.

Strömberg said he believed the devil would read the book and return it.
The truth is sometimes more miraculous than fiction, as the book was returned to the public a little over a week later. 10-year-old Ville Dyster, who lives in Valkeisniemi on the shores of Paasvesi, and 9-year-old Ville Dyster from Savonlinna, who spent the weekend with his grandparents in Valkeisniemi.
Aleksi Karvinen found the bottle on the beach in Valkeisniemi.

The boys reported their discovery to Savonranta’s cultural secretary Sari Silventoinen.
The bottle was intact, as was the book, although slightly damaged.
The Sikki that had been attached to the bottle was still firmly attached, but empty. Even the most sceptical had to believe that the devil had read the book and returned it, as Sulo Strömberg had hoped in the message he had put in the bottle.

coordinates: N 6893271 E 624508

text: Kati Myllys