Mysterious Michigan

HAUNTED PLACES IN MICHIGAN

The Top Haunted Lighthouses in Michigan

Written by Mysterious Michigan

G hosts and lighthouses are synonymous with each other and Michigan has the most lighthouses of any state in the U.S. At one point in Michigan history, we had over 200 working lighthouses on our lakes. Humans might not have a hand in guiding the ships along the lakes nowadays, but the ghosts of past lighthouse keepers are still doing their jobs – even if they are dead. Enjoy learning about just a few of Michigan’s well-known haunted lighthouses and the stories behind them. Because what’s a lighthouse without a ghost?

WAUGOSHANCE – ONE OF THE OLDEST LIGHTS ON THE GREAT LAKES

According to maritime historian Wes Oleszewski, the Waugoshance ghost story is always the first told by lighthouse enthusiasts and historians. Waugashance is located on the northeast end of Lake Michigan and was built in 1832 as a lightship. It became an actual lighthouse nineteen years later in 1851. John Herman, a drinker and a “funny man” was a lightkeeper at Waugashance. He began his career as an assistant lightkeeper in 1887 and in 1892 became the man in charge.

Drunk one night and looking to play a practical joke on a co-worker, John locked one of his assistants in the lamp room. Happy with his prank, he wandered away from the lighthouse and in his drunken stupor, vanished into the night, never to be seen again. Once the assistant managed to get out, he looked everywhere but never found John.

After his disappearance, strange things started to happen around the lighthouse . If any of the lightkeepers fell asleep on the job, their chair was kicked out from beneath them. Everyday chores, such as coal buckets being filled, would also mysteriously happen on its own. Because the haunted happenings were so frequent, they eventually had a hard time staffing the light, so they built a lighthouse at White Shoals and left Waugoshance to the ghost who haunted it, or so that’s what the ghost story says.

EXPOSING THE FACTS: IS THE HAUNTING REAL?

“Considering that so much of lighthouse history has been lost, sometimes all that we have is legend,” writes Wes Oleszewski in his book, Lighthouse Adventures. Waugoshance is one of the oldest lights on the lakes and not many historical records exist for it. Based on his research, after John’s long tenure as a lightkeeper, the turnaround rate of employees and keepers was about the same before John. Oleszewski points out that the turnaround for offshore lights, especially remote ones like Waugoshance, was always high.

As for them building another lighthouse to avoid the ghosts? The lighthouse was in fact, outdated and a new one was badly needed. There doesn’t seem to be any historical evidence of John’s death at the light either. The only keeper ever to drown at the light was Thomas Marshall on May 28, 1886. The ghost story about John supposedly came from a newspaper article published in Petoskey sometime in the 1930s. After the light was abandoned, people nicknamed it, “Wobble Shanks.”

Maritime author and avid publisher of Great Lakes ghost stories, Frederick Stonehouse, writes that there are  two  ghosts residing at “Wobble Shanks.” A legend says a worker was killed during the lights construction and his cries can sometimes be heard.

HOW TO VISIT WAUGOSHANCE LIGHTHOUSE Sheplers Ferry Service out of Mackinaw City offers a number of lighthouse cruises during the summer season. Their “Westward Tour” includes passes by White Shoal, Grays Reef, Waugoshance, and St. Helena Island. For schedules and rates for this tour, visit their website at www.sheplerswww.com

LEARN MORE 

Waugoshance Lighthouse Preservation Society Detailed Historical Information of Waugoshance

Sources Stonehouse, Frederick.  Great Lakes Lighthouse Tales. Gwinn, MI: Avery Color Studios, 1998. Oleszewski, Wes.  Lighthouse Adventures: Heroes, Haunts & Havoc On The Great Lakes. Gwinn, MI: Avery Color Studios, 1999.

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

Lonely Waugoshance Lighthouse Photo Source: William O’Rourke – Wikipedia 

POINT AUX BARQUES LIGHTHOUSE

The very secluded Point aux Barques lighthouse was built in 1847 near the tip of the thumb along Lake Huron. Author Wes Oleszewski writes in his book Lighthouse Adventures, how he felt he captured a ghostly form pulling back the curtain in the living quarters while taking pictures of the lighthouse. The photo spooked him out seeing he had always considered himself of the “scientific” sort.

THE GHOSTLY LADY

The ghost of a 1930’s cleaning lady has been seen by a few people over the years. In search of the ghost, Wes did research and went as far as the National Archives to try and find the existence of a woman who fit the description of the apparition that people witness, but nothing was found.

Point aux Barques is now a museum open to the public. To learn more about visiting this historic lighthouse, visit the links below.

Point aux Barques Lighthouse Preservation Society Historical Information about Point aux Barques

Sources Oleszewski, Wes.  Lighthouse Adventures: Heroes, Haunts & Havoc On The Great Lakes. Gwinn, MI: Avery Color Studios, 1999.

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

Point aux Barques Lighthouse Photo Source Wikipedia 

NEW PRESQUE ISLE LIGHTHOUSE

New Presque Isle near Alpena, is one of the tallest lights on the Great Lakes at 113 feet and was built in 1870. Isolation and loneliness are common themes in lighthouse ghost stories and this tale is the Michigan version of The Shining .  The most famous tale of this light says the lightkeeper went insane from the isolation and shut his wife up in a tunnel on the property.

Another version says the lightkeeper had a lady friend on the side and stuffed his wife in the tunnel when he went to go see her, making sure his wife couldn’t meddle with his adulterous activities. He then eventually killed his wife.

There is no evidence to suggest these stories are true, but over the years, the stories wrapped themselves around Presque Isle and are now part of the lighthouse’s ghostly lore.

New Presque Isle Lighthouse and a second light “Old” Presque Isle Lighthouse, are wonderful places to visit in the summer. Visit their website for museum hours.

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

The beautiful White River Light Station graces the cover of the first book I wrote. 

The White River Light Station was built in 1876. Lightkeeper William Robinson devoted 47 years of his life to the light and was forced out of his position due to age. His oldest grandson took over, at least keeping the job within the family, but William wasn’t allowed to live at the light. Only his son and immediate family were allowed to stay there. Author Frederick Stonehouse writes in his book, Haunted Lakes , that William told his grandson, “I am not going to leave the building” and he died the day he was supposed to leave.

An alternative story also says that he and his grandson simply did not get along. William felt he could still do his job no matter what, but the grandson, William Bush, was in charge and the Lighthouse Service in 1919 told Robinson to move on. Depressed, William died soon after and it would seem he got his wish to stay behind and continue his “afterlife” at the old lighthouse.

It seems the second floor of the White River Light Station is his stomping grounds in the afterlife and phantom footsteps have been heard occasionally. Karen McDonnell, now retired, was the curator of the White River Light Station Museum for over 20 years. The Muskegon Chronicle interviewed Karen McDonnell and she doesn’t claim the lighthouse has any ghosts or extreme paranormal moments around every corner. What she does admit though are phantom footsteps on the second floor, receiving a brief flash of a couple looking out the top story window, footsteps in the stairwell, a light blinking strangely in the tower and the feeling that Captain William Robinson and his wife Sarah are still around.

Addendum – If you happen to pick up a copy of my book  Ghosts and Legends of Michigan’s West Coast , I slipped the wrong photo of Captain William Robinson’s grave in the book and it totally took seven years for someone to point that out to me! I took a picture of an older tombstone and William’s is actually a smaller, more unassuming and “newer” one to the right of the stone I took a picture of. Next time I get to his grave I’ll snap a new picture. It was my first book…go easy:)

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

Seul Choix Lighthouse Photo source: Wikipedia

SEUL CHOIX LIGHTHOUSE

I guess a lot of people mispronounce “Seul Choix” and I don’t blame them. While reading Weird Michigan , author Linda Godfrey wrote how the locals gave her a dirty look when she asked for directions to the “sool choy” lighthouse. It’s pronounced like “Sish Schwah” and means “only choice” in French.

Located in the Upper Penisula in Gulliver, the light was built in 1895 and is rumored to be haunted by none other than its lightkeeper, Joseph William “Willy” Townshend. He was a sea captain and became the keeper of the light in 1901. In 1910, he died in his bedroom at the light and people claim they have spotted his ghost in mirrors, looking out windows, and even in the woods nearby. Phantom smells of cigar smoke and objects moving on their own have also been reported by volunteers.

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Haunted Michigan Lighthouses: 13 Spooky Sites

Lighthouses were often a lonely place to live and work, and some were isolated from civilization by many miles. Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state, and a handful of them have been the subject of paranormal investigations and sightings of ghosts. The following is a list of some of the most popular “ghost stories” that surround Michigan’s legendary lights. We’ve been able to visit all of these lighthouses, and many of them that are open as museums have photos and exhibits detailing rumored hauntings. For more reading on haunted lighthouses in Michigan and beyond, check out Haunted Lighthouses: Phantom Keepers, Ghostly Shipwrecks, And Sinister Calls From the Deep by Ray Jones, the Haunted Michigan series by Gerald S. Hunter, Weird Michigan by Linda S. Godfrey, and Spirits at Seul Choix Pointe: True Lighthouse Stories by Marilyn S. Fischer. Visit these haunted Michigan lighthouses , and decide for yourself if there’s something paranormal at work!

Seul Choix Point Lighthouse , Gulliver (Lake Michigan) – Constructed in the 1890s, Seul Choix Point Lighthouse marks a harbor of refuge for vessels on a dangerous 100-mile stretch of Lake Michigan between Poverty Island and St. Helena Island. Its white tower is 77 feet tall and is attached to a brick, two-story keeper’s dwelling.

rumored to be haunted by: former keeper Joseph William Townsend

how to visit: from US-2 in Gulliver, head south on CR-432 for 4.5 miles, then turn onto CR-431 (Seul Choix Rd.) and follow it 4 miles to its end at the lighthouse. This lighthouse is open as a museum seasonally, visit  https://www.greatlakelighthouse.com/ for updated hours and details on how you can enter the light and climb the tower.

Old Presque Isle Lighthouse , Presque Isle (Lake Huron) – Built in 1840, the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse is one of Michigan’s oldest surviving lighthouses . It also had one of the shortest service careers of any Michigan light, as the area’s harsh weather conditions took a toll on this 38-foot-tall brick tower. The New Presque Isle Lighthouse (see below) replaced this station in 1870.

rumored to be haunted by: former keeper George Parris

how to visit: the lighthouse is located on E. Grand Lake Rd., just a few miles off of US-23 north of Alpena. The lighthouse tower and unattached keeper’s dwelling are open for tours seasonally, find out more at  https://presqueislelighthouses.org/ .

New Presque Isle Lighthouse , Presque Isle (Lake Huron) – First lit in 1870, the New Presque Isle Lighthouse boasts one of the tallest towers in the state (109 feet). Its white tower has green trim and accent paint, and has a one-and-a-half story dwelling attached. Many other buildings on the grounds have been restored, including a 1905 dwelling.

rumored to be haunted by: the wife of a former keeper, who may have locked her on the grounds while he went into town to visit a lady friend.

how to visit: the lighthouse is located on E. Grand Lake Rd., just a few miles off of US-23 north of Alpena. The lighthouse tower and keeper’s dwelling are open for tours seasonally, find out more at  https://presqueislelighthouses.org/

White River Light Station , Whitehall (Lake Michigan) – William Robinson was the first keeper at the White River Light Station , serving 44 years before his death at the lighthouse. It is said that both he and his wife “never left.” The lighthouse here was constructed in 1876, and its tower is 38 feet tall, marking the channel entrance to White Lake from Lake Michigan.

rumored to be haunted by: Captain William Robinson and his wife Sarah

how to visit: the White River Light Station is operated as a museum by the Sable Points Lightkeepers Association. Find out more and get directions at  https://www.splka.org/whiteriver.html .

Big Bay Point Lighthouse,  Big Bay (Lake Superior) – Standing on a bluff 40 feet above Lake Superior, the Big Bay Point Lighthouse has marked a dangerous stretch of shoreline since 1896. The red brick keeper’s dwelling and attached tower bear some similarities to the Old Mackinac Point light, and the lantern room is painted white and was equipped with a Third Order Fresnel lens.

rumored to be haunted by: former keeper H. William Prior, who was so distraught over the death of his son that he vanished into the woods with a rope and was found hanging in the woods a year later. His son had been helping with work at the lighthouse and died after getting an infection in his leg after an injury.

how to visit: the Big Bay Point Lighthouse operates as a bed and breakfast, with access allowed to other visitors during select times. Find out more at  https://bigbaylighthouse.com/ . From Marquette head north on CR-550 to Big Bay, then take county road KCB a few miles east to the lighthouse.

Whitefish Point Light Station , Paradise (Lake Superior) – Marking an area of Lake Superior that has seen enough shipwrecks for it to be referred to as the “Graveyard of the Great Lakes,” the Whitefish Point Light Station is the oldest operating light on Lake Superior. Built in 1861, the steel skeletal tower is 76 feet tall. Today, the grounds and buildings are affiliated with the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, which is home to many artifacts including the bell from the SS Edmund Fitzgerald .

rumored to be haunted by: unknown; visitors at the life-saving station crew quarters have reported paranormal occurrences.

how to visit: From M-123 in Paradise, head north on Whitefish Point Rd. and follow it to its end at the lighthouse.

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse , Port Huron (Lake Huron) – One of the oldest surviving lighthouse on the Great Lakes, the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse dates back to the 1820s. The white tower is 82 feet tall, and a brick keeper’s building is located nearby.

rumored to be haunted by: former keeper Bob Hanford; Motor City Ghost Hunters have led several events at the site and claim to have witnessed paranormal activity.

how to visit: the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse and other buildings are operated as a museum in Port Huron. Find out more at  https://www.phmuseum.org/fort-gratiot-lighthouse/.  The lighthouse is located at 2802 Omar St., a few blocks north of the Blue Water Bridge.

Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse , Port Hope (Lake Huron) – marking a spot in Lake Huron where the water is only a few feet deep due to a shoal, the Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse is incredibly important to those traveling from Detroit to Saginaw (and beyond). The current tower was constructed in 1857 and is 89 feet tall. The attached two-story keeper’s dwelling is now open as a museum.

rumored to be haunted by: Catherine Shook, who was the first female lighthouse keeper in Michigan as she took over for her husband after he drowned in 1849.

how to visit: From M-25 north of Port Hope, turn right on Lighthouse Rd. and follow it to Lighthouse County Park and the Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse. More info at  http://www.pointeauxbarqueslighthouse.org/ .

Grand Traverse Lighthouse , Northport (Lake Michigan) – Constructed in 1858, the Grand Traverse Lighthouse sits at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula marking the point where Lake Michigan enters Grand Traverse Bay. Its 41-foot-tall tower sits atop a two-and-a-half story keeper’s dwelling.

rumored to be haunted by: Captain Peter Nelson and others, footsteps and voices heard here have been attributed to several former keepers.

how to visit: the lighthouse is located in Leelanau State Park. From Traverse City head north on M-22, then take M-201 to CR-629. Follow the signs to the state park and lighthouse, which is now a museum. Find out more at  https://www.grandtraverselighthouse.com/ .

Waugoshance Lighthouse (Lake Michigan) – marking a dangerous shoal in the Straits of Mackinac, Waugoshance Shoal Light is one of our more unique-looking surviving lighthouses. The tower is brick and 63 feet tall, topped with a birdcage lantern room. During World War II the abandoned lighthouse here was used for bomber target practice, leaving it a shell of what was once a larger station and prettier tower.

rumored to be haunted by: former keeper John Herman, who is rumored to have drowned at the site while playing a practical joke on his assistant

how to visit: Shepler’s Ferry out of Mackinaw City features this lighthouse on their Westbound Lighthouse Cruise . For more details visit  https://www.sheplersferry.com/cruises/ .

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse , Eagle Harbor (Lake Superior) – this lighthouse was constructed in 1871 to replace an 1851 structure that had deteriorated. The tower and keeper’s dwelling of the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse are constructed of red and white brick, with the tower standing 44 feet tall. The light marks the entrance to a protected harbor along an extremely rocky stretch of Lake Superior on the north end of the Keweenaw Peninsula.

rumored to be haunted by: a Coast Guard worker who was stationed here in the 1970s reports many strange happenings , possibly attributed to a former keeper

how to visit: the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse and several other buildings are part of a museum complex. Where M-26 makes a sharp bend in Eagle Harbor near the beach, take North St. straight ahead then turn left after a couple blocks where signs mark the entrance to the lighthouse complex. Find out more at  http://keweenawhistory.org/sites/church-2-2-2/ .

Sand Point Lighthouse , Escanaba (Lake Michigan) – as Escanaba became a popular port during a lumber boom in the 1860s, it became clear that a lighthouse was needed. The Sand Point Lighthouse was constructed in 1868, standing 44 feet tall and constructed in the “schoolhouse” style.

rumored to be haunted by: former keeper Mary Terry, the first keeper at this site who took over for her husband after he died during its construction. Mary died mysteriously in a fire and is rumored to still haunt the museum.

how to visit: from the intersection of US-2 and M-35/US-41, head east on Ludington St. and take it through downtown. Continue on Ludington until you reach its intersection with Lake Shore Dr., at which point you should be able to see the lighthouse and parking area. For more information on the lighthouse museum, head to

Point Iroquois Lighthouse , Brimley (Lake Superior) – the current Point Iroquois Lighthouse was constructed in 1870 to help guide ships in and out of the Soo Locks. It is a Cape Cod style lighthouse building, with a 65 foot tall tower. The tower and attached dwelling are painted white with red roofing and a black lantern room.

rumored to be haunted by: a young girl killed in a bear attack; others – attributed to the fact that this lighthouse was constructed on the site of a deadly Native American massacre in 1662.

how to visit: operated as a museum by the National Forest Service, the Point Iroquois Lighthouse is located on W. Lakeshore Dr./Iroquois Rd. (Whitefish Bay Scenic Byway), a few miles west of Bay Mills. Find out more at  https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/hiawatha/recarea/?recid=13342 .

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Lighthouses, those iconic structures peppered along the Great Lakes’ shores are more than just guiding lights for ships. They have a rich history filled with stories and mysterious events that are deeply intertwined with those who cared for them. But why are these beacons so lined to the supernatural? it all goes back to their origins. Lighthouses were built in response to the numerous shipwrecks along Michigan’s coasts, many leaving behind their own legacy. The bodies of ill-fated sailors found their final resting place in unmarked graves within local cemeteries, while others settled in the cold depths of the Great Lakes.

This begs the question: Could the spirits of these unfortunate souls still wander our shores, forever tied to the places where their lives met a tragic end?

Then there are the lighthouse keepers, men and women who dedicated their lives to these beacons. Isolated from the outside world for extended periods, they formed unique bonds with their towering homes. Day after day, they climbed the winding staircases to light the lamps at night and extinguish them at dawn. This solitary routine went on for years, forging strong connections between keepers and their lighthouses. 

It’s easy to imagine that when these devoted keepers passed away, some chose to linger, their spirits forever linked to the places that defined their lives. In this article, we offer a peek into the world of 13 Haunted Michigan Lighthouses. These stories, filled with folklore, legends, and unexplained incidents continue to intrigue visitors and invite us to dig deeper. They remind us that even in death, some souls may find comfort within the embrace of the Great Lakes and the enduring lighthouses that grace their shores, adding to Michigan’s unique history.

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

13. Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, Port Huron

Amidst the picturesque landscape of Port Huron, Michigan, where the tranquil waters of Lake Huron meet the rugged shoreline and only a stones throw across the lake from Canada, the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse has long stood as a sentinel of the past and a silent witness to the mysteries that surround it. This historical landmark, the oldest among the 129 lighthouses that grace the Great Lakes, harbors a legacy of unexplained encounters that beckons both the curious and the adventurous. 

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse has become a haven for those seeking an encounter with the supernatural. It is in the dimming twilight that the lighthouse grounds come alive with the inexplicable phenomena that defy rational explanation. From the lighthouse itself, to the keepers quarters, to the old hospital, objects once left undisturbed find themselves in new and unexpected positions. Mysterious sounds fill the air, from creaking floorboards to faint whispers carried in the wind. 

Visitors often speak of an overwhelming sensation of being watched, spirits of the past acting as curious observers of the living. The feeling of a ghostly presence may brush against one’s skin, leaving an eerie sensation in its wake.

Legend has it that five ghosts haunt Fort Gratiot Lighthouse and grounds. Three of them are former lighthouse keepers, their names and stories forever etched into the annals of time. The other two are children—a girl named Sarah and a 13-year-old boy named Josh—each of their demise remains unknown. But their laughter and footsteps are said to echo in the night. 

We conducted our own paranormal investigation of Fort Gratiot Lighthouse and Carnegie Museum on September 30 with Detroit Rock City Paranormal.

What secrets lie hidden within the enigmatic walls of Fort Gratiot Lighthouse? What unexplained phenomena did we uncover during our daring exploration of this historic landmark? Stay tuned for the spine-tingling release of our paranormal investigation in October via video on our website and social media, where we venture into the realm of the unexplained. You won’t want to miss this eerie encounter with the supernatural. Subscribe to our magazine and Youtube channel and watch for the release!

Event Tickets: https://phmuseum.eventbrite.com/

Make a donation and help keep Fort Gratiot Lighthouse and Museum open to the public. Donations: https://www.porthuronmuseums.shop/donations

12. Point aux Barques Lighthouse, Port Hope

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

The Point Aux Barques Lighthouse, standing tall on Lake Huron’s Shores, holds a haunting mystery that beckons the curious and the brave. Within these weathered walls, there have been documented accounts of furniture mysteriously shifting, phantom footsteps ascending and descending the tower stairs, unsettling giggles that pierce the silence, and the lingering aroma of burning tobacco. Some have even reported sightings of the ghostly figure of a lady cloaked in white, while others claim to have witnessed a figure draped in mourning black, pacing along the cliff’s edge yearning for her lost love. These recorded encounters with the supernatural at this historic beacon make it an irresistible enigma for those drawn to the eerie and unexplained. Will you heed the call of the Point Aux Barques Lighthouse and venture into its chilling embrace?

11. Saginaw River Rear Range Light, Bay City 

Bay City’s historic beacon harbors a haunting tale that beckons the curious and the fearless. The story centers on Julia, a woman whose life became inexorably entwined with the lighthouse’s eerie legacy. Following her first husband’s tragic demise, she assumed the role of lighthouse keeper. Remarkably, her second husband, who became keeper after their marriage, also met a grim fate. Was Julia cursed by ill-fated love, or were they? Julia’s restless spirit is said to wander the desolate lighthouse, and eerie encounters have become part of the lore. As the lighthouse undergoes a long-awaited renovation, it will once again open its doors to the public in 2024, after being sealed in mystery for four decades. What chilling mysteries lie in wait for those who dare to explore its haunted halls?

10. Old Presque Isle Lighthouse, Presque Isle 

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

The haunting grounds of Presque Isle Lighthouse include an ethereal, unnatural glow that emanates from the tower, witnessed by many, despite the absence of any electricity. Here, a widow has encounters with the spectral presence of her dearly departed husband. Glasses of whiskey left as a heartfelt toast by old friends inexplicably drain overnight. But there’s more to this haunting tale—a departed husband who, from the great beyond, protects his beloved wife and even entertains the curiosity of young visitors. In the realm of Michigan’s ghostly legends, the former Presque Isle Lighthouse Keeper stands as a gentle guardian, his story a magnetic lure for those seeking the mysterious and the unexplained.

9. Point Iroquois Lighthouse, Brimley

In 1662, a gruesome massacre unfolded along the shores of Lake Superior near the now-standing Point Iroquois Lighthouse. This fateful battle pitted the Ojibwa (Chippewa) against a band of Iroquois who had traveled four hundred miles from western New York. When the sun set that day, it marked the triumph of the Ojibwa and the tragic demise of the Iroquois warriors. Their tragic ending in this location forever bound their spirits to these shores. The restless spirits of these fallen souls are immortalized in the haunting name of this place, Nadouenigoning, a fusion of Nadone (Iroquois) and Akron (bone), forever echoing as a boneyard for the Iroquois. This is not the only haunting tale of this lighthouse. In 1919, during the infamous “Gales of November,” a shipwreck claimed the lives of seventeen crewmen. Over the ensuing months, their bodies – frozen in ice – washed ashore. And in 1948, a tragic encounter between a 3-year-old girl and a relentless young bear ended in tragedy near these grounds. These are the lingering souls believed to haunt the vicinity of Point Iroquois Lighthouse, where history and the supernatural converge in an eerie dance. 

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

8. Whitefish Point Lighthouse, Paradise

Whitefish Point Lighthouse, the oldest operating beacon on Lake Superior, watches over the perilous waters known as “The Graveyard of the Great Lakes” or the “Shipwreck Coast.” This area has claimed numerous vessels over the years, and within the lighthouse’s historic walls, chilling tales have emerged. Visitors have reported ghostly touches from unseen hands, doors locking and unlocking on their own, mysterious whispers, and phantom footsteps that reverberate through the halls. These unsettling experiences would give even the most seasoned ghost hunter a reason to pause. The atmosphere is heavy with the presence of restless spirits, with estimates suggesting that as many as 50 or more ghosts call this place home, creating a truly supernatural spectacle.

7. Marquette Harbor Lighthouse, Marquette

Amidst the backdrop of Lake Superior, the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse holds an intriguing secret—a spirited presence believed to be that of a mischievous young girl dressed in early 1900s attire. Yet, unlike stereotypical apparitions, this ghostly figure radiates an air of joy and boundless energy – as most children do. Her spirit is drawn to the motherly types and she has a captivating charm that draws in children. On calm days, when the lake is still, she often stands by the edge, gazing out at the vast horizon. Her mysterious presence has left a lasting impression, witnessed by both staff and curious visitors who are captivated by the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse’s mystery.

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

6. Big Bay Point Lighthouse, Big Bay” 

Big Bay Point Lighthouse carries a somber history and is rumored to house up to five resident spirits, one of suicide by hanging. 

Big Bay’s history is as varied as its hauntings. Decommissioned in 1961, it transitioned into a private residence for nearly two decades, then later served as a retreat for a brief period, then a bed-and-breakfast since the early ’80s – currently on its third owner since then.

Over the years, both visitors and owners have encountered strange phenomena. From marbles inexplicably rolling across the floor, to doors and windows opening and closing by themselves, lights flickering on and off, to the distinct sound of heavy footsteps echoing through the corridors, and mirrors revealing spectral figures while shadowy figures have been found standing at the foot of beds.

Does Big Bay Point Lighthouse remain a place where the boundary between the living and the dead blurs. Whether you believe it or not, Big Bay Point Lighthouse offers a mysterious history that continues to intrigue those who dare to explore its secrets.  

5. Seul Choix (Sis-shwa) Point Lighthouse, Gulliver 

Seul Choix is arguably the most haunted lighthouse in Michigan. With hundreds (possibly thousands) of encounters written and stored in countless three-ringed binders housed at the lighthouse museum. Encounters that include faces in mirrors, self-rocking chairs, utensils moving on their own in the kitchen area, to the undeniable heavy scent of cigar smoke filling one’s nose. It is believed that up to five spirits occupy the lighthouse, the most active – and one that is seemingly hungry for attention – is previous lighthouse keeper, John Joseph Willie Townsend who passed away at the lighthouse in 1910 of lung cancer, and was embalmed in the basement. He was an avid cigar smoker, to his wife’s chagrin. Having come to Michigan by way of England, he was also very particular about the placement of utensils at the dinner table. To this day, he remains the keeper of the light, protecting all within, and correcting staff on the proper way to set an English table.  

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

4. Waugoshance Shoal Lighthouse, Mackinaw City

What do you do when a lighthouse becomes so steeped in hauntings that not a single soul will stay to tend to its light? You decommission it.

That’s at least how the tale goes. Nestled off the shores of what is now Wilderness State Park, the Waugoshance Shoal Lighthouse remains shrouded in mystery, much like the origins of its restless apparitions. This imposing tower, distinguished by its unique birdcage-style lantern room that once held a fourth-order Fresnel lens, stands as a sentinel surrounded entirely by the unforgiving waters of the Straights of Mackinaw. The first documented encounters with the supernatural date back to 1883, when Clara, the wife of an assistant keeper, recorded her unease and terror within the lighthouse’s walls. Clara never ventured alone within those haunted confines, accompanying and clutching her husband’s hand as they ascended the tower’s stairs, where he dutifully performed his tasks.

In the years since, this abandoned lighthouse has endured various phases, including serving as a military training island before World War II. Today, it stands as a weathered and forsaken yet protected site, a lonely sentinel off the coast of Mackinac Island, visited by only a brave few. However, the mischievous spirits, one of whom is believed to be a prankster, persist in entertaining all who dare to venture to her cemented shores. 

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

3. South Manitou Island Lighthouse

A tragic drowning over 140 years ago creates an aura of lore surrounding South Manitou Lighthouse.

In March 1878, the lighthouse keeper, Aaron Sheridan, his wife, Julia, and their youngest son Robert, who was just a baby, met their tragic end during a return trip to the island from the Mainland of Michigan. Their small fishing boat overturned in a late winter squall eventually claiming the three lives of the Sheridan family whose bodies were never recovered. The lone survivor was the fisherman, Christ Ancharson. He was found clinging to life by a rescue boat. Tales of hauntings and voices echoing in the night began to occur after the deaths and continue to this day. Some say they are simply tales of lore, while others claim the ghosts of Aaron and Julia walk the island, two lost souls finding their way home. 

2. White River Light Station, Whitehall

A lively spirit that likes to keep things tidy, a keeper that continues to watch over his beloved light that he was instrumental in the construction of. These are the husband-and-wife team of ghosts that inhabit the White River Light Station.

This Lighthouse is truly a family legacy. Captain Bill Robinson and his wife Sarah were the first family to inhabit and keep the light. All told, the Robinson family kept the light at White River for over seven decades, that included Robinson’s son and grandson. Captain Bill did not take retiring lightly and the evening before his forced retirement, he passed away in his sleep at the lighthouse at the age of 87.

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

Staff and visitors alike have had encounters or unexplained experiences over the years. Apparitions standing in windows, guests compelled to the room that Captain Bill passed away in. Footsteps heard ascending and descending the tower stairs. Sarah’s ghost is thought to help clean the room that was once the children’s nursery.

The family is buried on the grounds of the cemetery located a short distance from the lighthouse, including Captain Bill’s parents, and one of their young daughters who passed away at the age of 18. Their silent vigil reminds visitors that, even in the afterlife, the keepers of the light stand watch over the White River Light Station. 

1. South Haven Keeper’s Dwelling

Imagine stepping into a bygone era, back to a time when Captain James Samuel Donahue stood as the unwavering guardian of South Haven Lighthouse. His watchful eye spanned from March of 1875 until his well-deserved retirement in 1909. Yet, this historical account is tinged with tragedy, for within these very walls, his beloved wife Sarah, at a tender age of 27, succumbed to the relentless grip of lung disease.

The modern-day custodians of the Keeper’s Dwelling, now home to the Michigan Maritime Museum and Marialyce Canonie Great Lakes Research Library, have shared intriguing stories of their own. They speak of inexplicable phenomena—a ghostly presence that leaves faint echoes of footsteps, doors that sway open of their own accord, whispers that dance on the edge of perception, and mysterious cold spots that send shivers down one’s spine. Skeptics among them dismiss these occurrences as mere quirks of an aged house, but the allure of the unexplained persists.

Captain Donahue, a figure of immense honor and distinction, continues to cast his watchful gaze over the lighthouse and harbor, even in death. If his spirit lingers within the keeper’s house, it does so with the same dignity and unwavering dedication that marked his earthly service. Come, step into history, and experience the enigmatic legacy of South Haven Lighthouse for yourself.

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how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

Listen to our Podcast “Haunted Michigan Lighthouses with Author Dianna Stampfler.”

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

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2023 (Oct 1) 34 Most HAUNTED Places In Michigan (+Map!) | Haunted Houses, Cemeteries, Apparitions, Lighthouses, Paranormal Tours, Abandoned Places,  Asylum

 2023 EDITION | Interactive MAP!

Theater in Haunted Places in Michigan

34 Terrifyingly Haunted Places Michigan | By: Sherry Trautman | Travel-Mi.com | Updated: October 1, 2023

Are you ready to feel the cold hand of an invisible ghost run down your back while exploring abandoned and the most haunted places in Michigan?  Do you love all things paranormal? You will love these haunted abandoned places in Michigan!

Ever wonder if that flickering light in your house was the evil work of a horrific demon or ghost? For whatever reason, we thrive on the unknown and hope to experience the terrifying. 

  • From haunted theaters to abandoned state hospitals (asylums), Michigan is teaming with haunted locales just waiting to scare the willing. 

To be true ghost hunter, you need the tools of the trade! I mean how fun is this!?   

Interactive Haunted Places in Michigan Map

  • Click on the plus and minus in the left corner to zoom in or out of the map.
  • Click on the icons for more info, addresses and photos of the stops.
  • Click on the map to drag and move it to view surrounding areas.
  • In the Header, click on the rectangle in the upper left of the map to see a menu of all of our stops. Click on anything that looks interesting to see where it is on the map. To hide the menu, click the rectangle in the header.
  • In the Header, click on the "square" icon in the upper right side to expand the map for better viewing.
  • Be sure to click on this Haunted Places in Michigan Google Map to aid you while driving. 

We created this Haunted Places in MI Interactive Map to help you pinpoint scary, abandoned attractions, houses and spots.  

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Since You Love Haunted Places Check Out These Fun Posts!

  • Best Haunted Houses and Attractions in Michigan
  • Top Halloween Events!
  • Halloween in Greenfield Village

Spooky Woods - Most Haunted Places in Michigan

Top 34 Haunted Places in Michigan

Keep reading as we will delve into chilling tales and spine-tingling encounters with the beyond. Heck, why not embark on a Michigan Haunted Road Trip? 

Are you ready?   Let's GO!  

1. Haunted Theater on Mackinac Island

The exterior of the Haunted Theater

Are you ready to be scared?   This creepy haunted theater on Main Street on Mackinac Island, Michigan is just waiting to make you scream! Dark hallways, things that go bump in the dark and scary displays are just a part of the creep factor...

Did you know evil Manitou (evil spirit) has now risen and haunts the corridors of this theater...night an d day.  Visit if you dare....

This haunted attraction on Mackinac Island  definitely makes our haunted places in Michigan list!

"During the day I don't believe in ghosts. At night I'm a little more open-minded " Unknown 

2. Calumet Theater-One of the Truly Most Haunted Places in Michigan 

Flyer showing the inside of the theater.

Calumet Theater- 340 Sixth Street, Calumet, Michigan

Stories that the Calumet Theater is haunted go back more the 50 years so it definitely makes our "Haunted Places In Michigan" list.

WOW! Per the Keewanaw Report, the executive director said, “We always hear different things from our technical directors. Myself, I’ve experienced a few things. Janitorial people, that have been in and out, you have a lot of unexplained music that comes from different locations that’s unexplainable, you’ve got a lot of cold breezes that just hover around you from time to time, a lot of door handles that are locked and people are trying to get in and nobody on the other side.”

The most famous of the reported haunts is actress Madame Helena Modjeska, who died in April 1909.  The famous Shakespearean actress performed at the theater three times in the first 10 years the theater was open. 

Larry, a local 2nd grade teacher friend of ours, took his 2nd grade class to the theater in an effort to show them some haunted places in Michigan. 

Larry stated he spotted Ms. Modjeska's spirit while touring the theater. He was shocked and at a loss for words. A curator backed up his story.

So if you are brave enough, guided tours are offered at select times during box office hours. Just check their website for more information on days, times and prices prior to planning your trip!

3. U.S.S. Edson - Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum

Exterior of the USS Edson Destroyer

1680 Martin Street, Bay City Michigan

Did you know the Edson Incident is the only Haunted Ship (Halloween season) in the Midwest held on a Destroyer. Are you brave enough to make your way though five levels of ghosts and whispers?

Each level is scarier than the last (or so I have heard). We have toured this fabulous ship during the day only!

  • Read about our adventures touring the USS Edson during the day!

4. Doherty Hotel | Clare

Clare Downtown

Isn't that chandelier incredible? It's located inside the Doherty Hotel lobby and the dining room is to the right. 

The Doherty family has owned and operated this lovely hotel located in downtown Clare Michigan since the early 1920s. During the years of prohibition, the hotel was a speakeasy, was a hotspot for backroom gambling, and offered adult entertainment. The Mafia and Purple Gang hung out here. Things turned south when in 1938 Isaiah Leebove, a former Purple Gang attorney was murdered in the bar. He was shot by his cousin and business partner, Jack Livingston.   Some people think the ghost of Isaiah Leebove stayed in the hotel.  Others believe the family matriarch, Helen “grandma” Doherty continues to road the halls. Supposedly the soft feeble voice of a woman was recorded in the hotel. 

5-7. Mackinac Island: Grand Hotel, Mission Point Resort, Old Post Cemetary

Mackinac island is home to several battles during the War of 1812 and over the centuries it has seen many tragic deaths. As such, many urban legends tend to build on the island’s hot paranormal activity. Here are the spots where visitors have encountered ghost or other worldly activity:

  • Grand Hotel 
  • Mission Point Resort
  • Old Post Cemetery

8. Arch Rock on Mackinac Island Has a Secret Story...

View from the top of Mackinac Island's Arch Rock

According to legend, Arch Rock on Mackinac Island is the gateway to the spirit world. Souls that pass over the rock will live forever and be strikingly beautiful. I like this legend! 

More awesome than scary but still makes our haunted places in Michigan list! 

9. The Old Jackson State Prison | Jackson's Haunted History | Embark on Ghost Hunts!

Established in 1838, Michigan’s First State Prison operated until 1934. It was a brutal place that housed violent criminals...where lots of violent and bad things happened to inmates and guards alike. 

The old prison is now the Armory Arts Village, a residence, and studio for artisans. Despite renovations, rumors continue of paranormal presence making it one of the most haunted locations in Michigan...for good reason.

Several artists in residence have sketched or painted the apparitions they’ve witness in the hallways or grounds.  Judy Krasnow is the current owner of Jackson Journeys, LLC.

  • She offers daytime historic tours of the prison so maybe you will have the chance to catch sight of an apparition or haunting yourself!

10. Whitefish Point Light Station | Michigan's Upper Peninsula: Unspeakable Tragedy 

White Buildings of Whitefish Point

Chris and I love visiting Whitefish Point located along the shores of Lake Superior.  However, we just learned Whitefish Point Lighthouse is possibly haunted due to spirits lingering there due to numerous tragic shipwrecks.  One of the most well known Michigan shipwrecks is the Edmund Fitzgerald which occured right along "shipwreck coast. The Edmund Fitzgerald's anniversity is November 10th.  

Visitors to Whitefish Point Lighthouse report paranormal encounters with spirits including a little girl whose grandparents were former lightkeepers on the property.  One of the most haunted lighthouses in Michigan!

  • Grab our  Whitefish Point Guide!
  • Chris created a crazy interesting  Edmund Fitzgerald article that you will find fascinating! It took months to create!

11. The Birmingham 8 Theater - Haunted Places in Detroit

Location : 211 S Old Woodward Ave, Birmingham, MI 48009

The Birmingham 8, already reportedly haunted is now a haunted attraction leading up to Halloween. Come on out for “Ghosts on the Balcony” haunted attraction. This 100-year old movie theater is your chance to see ghostly apparitions, hear strange noises or jump at footsteps behind you.  Tickets can be purchased here .

  • Here's more Michigan Haunted Houses !

12. Fort Gratiot Lighthouse | Port Huron, MI | Haunted Lighthouses in Michigan!

White Fort Gratiot Lighthouse

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse , located at 2802 Omar St, Port Huron, MI 48060 was  constructed in the 1820′s. This Port Huron light is Michigan’s oldest lighthouse and you can tour it, I did! 

The Lighthouse has undergoing paranormal investigations which documented spooky activity including sudden decreases in temperature and flashlights turning off and on.

  • Grab our Fort Gratiot Lighthouse Guide and Port Huron Guide !

Did you know

Did you know?

You can tour the lighthouse with a local guide and see for yourself!

13. Haunted Road in Michigan | Freeland Michigan Located in Mid Michigan

'Michigan’s most cursed road' in Saginaw is thought to be Dice Road. It's actually located in Freeland with some notable ghostly apparitions see at the Dice Road Cemetery. The Midland Daily News article is a fascinating read about multiple encounters residents have reported to the police.

Some people reported loud pounding noises inside and outside a home on Dice Road and bobbing orbs in the Dice Road Cemetery. So if you visit, be sure to guard your soul as it's ripe for the plucking!

If you want to see more, watch, “A Haunting on Dice Road: The Hell House” , on Amazon Prime.

14. Anchor Inn: Float in For Haunted Ghost Tours | See Paranormal Activity for Yourself!

1781 Heightsview Drive, Houghton Lake Heights, MI

Check out their historical haunted tours and ghost investigations offered in the summer and fall months!  

You may see full body apparitions, shadow figures, poltergeist activity, odd noises, voices, laughter, mists, orbs and objects moving while dining at the Anchor Inn.  Of course, ghost stories will be shared with guests as you search for paranormal activity. 

That's enough evidence to place this Inn on our most haunted places in Michigan list!

15. The Devils Elbow

Located along the famous Tunnel of Trees along M-119 west of Harbor Springs is the famous Devil's Elbow.  A spring in a nearby ravine is believed by the area Odawa Indian bands to be the home of spirits that enjoy making their presence known as darkness descends upon the area. 

16. River Basin National Battlefield Park

  • Location: 333 N Dixie Hwy, Monroe, MI 48162

We've heard that River Raisin National Battlefield Park is possibly one of the most haunted places in Michigan.  

And for good reason.. .

River Raisin, a historic landmark, was one of the biggest battles of 1812. The American troops who were settled there were attacked by around 1000 British soldiers and Native Americans. Then disaster struck. About 300 American soldiers were killed and several hundreds of other soldiers were gravely wounded.

  • Accordingly, there as been numerous reported sightings of ghostly soldiers wandering the grounds . 
  • Visitors to the battlefield have seen ghosts in doorways of their photos and ghost hunters have recorded EVPs of moaning, crying and battlefield sounds!

17. Michigan State Capitol is Spooky: Do You Feel a Chill Down Your Spine?

Painting on the wall

View this post on Instagram I am still obsessed with the beauty of the dome at our Michigan State Capitol! . the rotunda rises 160 feet to an opening at the top of the inner dome. Called the oculus, or “eye” of the dome, it provides a glimpse into the vastness of the universe, represented by a starry sky. Just below the oculus are eight monumental paintings of female figures. Painted on canvas and glued directly to the inner dome, they are muses—guides and sources of inspiration—drawn from Greek and Roman mythology. Find the muse representing “art” (she is the one holding a paint palette in one hand). Starting with art and proceeding to your right, the muses are agriculture, law, science, justice, industry, commerce and education. Each muse offers the people of Michigan the means to achieve progress and future prosperity. They are the work of an Italian artist, Tommaso Juglaris, who painted them in 1886 while painting and teaching in Boston. . . . #michiganstatecapitol #greatlakesloving #greatlakesstate #exploremichigan #statecapitol #michiganart #michiganarchitecture #puremi #puremitten #puremichiganders #michigan #michiganders #stunning_shots #ipulledoverforthis #photooftheday A post shared by Michigan Travel+Food Adventure (@travelingmichigan) on May 3, 2019 at 5:46am PDT

If you haven't toured our gorgeous Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, you need to get to it! 

But only if you dare.   Strange sightings, cold spots and things moving mysteriously on their own have been reported.  Could it be due to the vast amount of Civil War artifacts or ...

1) In the 1880's, a teenager was working as a pageboy.  He though it would be a good idea to show off by attempting to jump between the railings of the Grand Staircase...well, let's just say he missed and fell two stories to his death.

2) An elevator maintenance man was electrocuted to death.

3) In the early 1990's, a man who was working in the rotunda fell over the railing to his death when his boom lift broke. Sightings of his ghost has been reported walking near the rotunda area, wearing his painting overalls.

4) A roofer wasn't paying attention and fell to his death.

Talk about eerie!  Keep reading for more  haunted places in Michigan!

Read More: Secrets of the Michigan State Capitol

18. Michigan's G.A.R. Museum | Are There Civil War Spirits Roaming the Halls?

If you like to go ghost hunting for century-old spirits of Civil War Union soldiers, check out the G.A.R. museum in Eaton Rapids.

For over three decades, the building was a gathering place for more than 450 Civil War veterans.  These Civil War soldiers enjoyed socializing, telling stories and listening to music. Over the years, the building was a dance studio, hardware store, bowling alley and a few other uses. It's now a museum for Civil War history.

Per the Lansing Journal , the G.A.R. museum is a ghostly hotspot for unexplained voices that at times will answer spoken questions from the beyond the grave. Also, a second-floor piano once seemed to play three notes by itself.  

19. See the Paulding Light

The light appears in a valley outside of Paulding, Michigan , in the Upper Peninsula, near Watersmeet off US 45 on Robbins Pond Road/Old US 45. 

Chris' personal haunted places in Michigan experience: "You will drive down an abandoned railroad line. It's a long scary dirt road.  You will come to a dead end, with no place to go. If you look off into the distance at night you will see spooky undulating red and green lights." 

Definitely a ghost train!  At least that is what we choose to believe! What do you think?

20. State Hospital in Traverse City-My favorite Haunted Places in Michigan!

View inside a steam tunnel

Traverse City State Hospital (Asylum) has been renamed The Village at Grand Traverse Commons.

Address: 830 Cott ageview Drive, Suite 101 Traverse City, Michigan

  • My friends, if you want awesome haunted places in Michigan, this is the place. .. I went into the basement alone during a recent tour and let's just say, I didn't feel alone . 

The Northern Michigan Asylum was first built in 1885.  It operated for 104 years, but closed it's doors in 1989.  After years of solitude and disrepair, the old mental hospital gained a reputation for being haunted.  I mean how can it not!?

During my visit, I found old beds, graffiti on the walls from past patients, paint chipping off walls, dark hallways, lonely kitchens and of course the steam tunnels-all a perfect mix for harboring ghosts-friendly or not. 

If you are intrigued, you can sign up for their tours!  Be active in finding the most haunted places in Michigan yourself! ;)

21. Detroit Fisher Body Plant 21 - Haunted Places in Detroit

Graffiti walls in an abandoned factory

The Detroit Fisher Body Plant 21 is definitely a spooky place to visit.  You can definitely feel the energy that used to hum in these walls when the factory was in full production.  

If you go, exercise caution and don't venture in very far.  You never know who (or what) may be inside these buildings so it's not really safe. 

Read More:   Detroit Things to Do and See

22. Detroit's Packard Automotive Plant | Haunted Places in Detroit

Graffiti walls in an abandoned factory

Detroit Packard Automotive Plan t :  6199 Concord Ave, Detroit, MI 48211

Detroit Packard Automotive Plant History : During World War 1, the plant was integral to the war effort as they assembled airplane engines.

After the war, the plant wished to be cutting edge so in the 1920s the Packard Plant began the transition from hand assembly to an assembly line.

Due to this ingenuity, the company became known for their outstanding engineering and for creating one of the highest quality luxury vehicles produced in the United States.

  • But things then went downhill...

By 1954, the multistory building plan fell out of favor so Packard's vehicles was transferred to a new plant on Conner Avenue.  

But then in 1956 the Packard Car Company went out of business and shut their doors for good.

The plant is now completely abandoned.  Time and vandals have slowly destroyed the once bustling factory.  

NOTE: In the past, we have explored this abandoned factory a few times but now security constantly circles this area and there are no trespassing signs everywhere.  

23. Ghosts of Lighthouse Point | Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

The Marquette Maritime Museum offers Ghosts of Lighthouse Point tours, usually around Halloween.  Chris and I toured this museums last year and loved it.

The Marquette Maritime Museum, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, has sobering exhibits on shipwrecks in Marquette and Lake Superior.  Learn more about the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald and see a 3-D Breeches Buoy Exhibition.  

24. Hell's Bridge | Algoma Michigan

Algoma  

So...according to roadtrippers.com, in the mid-1800's, an older man named Elias Friske (of which the road was named after) murdered local children at the location. YIKES!

Babysitting Nightmare from Hell:

As the legend goes, several children were missing so the townspeople organized a search party but needed someone to look after their children (of course! Why not the creepy old guy down by the river?!)

They thought Mr. Friske looked trustworthy (um, ok) so they left the kids in his care.

  • (First horror movie scene, TAKE 1)

Mr. Friske wasn't exactly the nurturing type, so he tied the children together and marched them into the woods. As the children got closer to the bridge, they noticed a horrible smell. 

Mr. Friske, then kicked aside some leaves (ta da!) revealing the bodies of the other missing children. 

  • (Second horror movie scene, TAKE 2)

Their screams were unheard as they were swallowed by the night.  Mr. Friske began to kill the kids and tossed their bodies into the Rogue River. 

  • (Third horror movie scene, TAKE 3)

Upon returning to pick up their children, the parents discovered everyone was missing. 

They searched the river and discovered the dead bodies of their children in the water. Mr. Friske was then found close by, covered in blood, shouting that the devil made him do it. 

(Final horror movie scene-are your eyes still covered?)

Furious, the townspeople used the rope Friske had used to tie up the children and hung him from the nearby stone footbridge. 

Rumor Has It: You can see the faces of the murdered kids in the river and hear screams of the terrified kids.  So be careful if you are tubing down the river as the ghost of Mr. Friske may bind your hands and drag you into the river... In the past years, the stone bridge crumbled but was replaced by a metal one.  It was named "Hell's Bridge" by locals.

I don't know about you, but this has a serious creep factor written all over it.  Definitely deserves the top of our haunted places in Michigan list.

25. Spooky Dredge #2 | Keewanaw Peninsula, Michigan's Upper Peninsula

Aerial view of the Dredge

This creepy Dredge is located in Hubbell, which is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We love visiting the Dredge as it's close to where Chris grew up.

*See the map above for the specific location .

If you are brave enough and have sticky soled shoes, you can walk along the beam to the main part of the dredge. 

Read more about the history of Dredge #2 . 

26. Belle Isle Abandoned Zoo | Haunted Places in Detroit

Abandoned building covered by graffiti

Belle Isle Zoo, Detroit. One of the most haunted abandoned places in Michigan.

This outdoor Belle Isle Zoo (later named the Children’s Zoo) was open for 107 years before being closed for good in 2002. Mysteries and echoes of its troubled past definitely resonates across the grounds. 

There is a fence surrounding the abandoned zoo but you can still see the metal entrance gate, fencing for the animals and several odd thatched roofs that previously housed the inhabitants. 

Chris and I definitely had an eerie and scary feeling about this abandoned zoo in Michigan.

27. The Felt Mansion/Estate | Holland, MI | Is it Haunted?

felt estate

The Felt Estate is so impressive and grand, Chris and I were impressed! It's located very close to the Saugatuck Dunes State Park in Saugatuck .  It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.

Dorr E. Felt began building his dream home, Felt Mansion in 1925.  It had 25 rooms and was a whopping 12,000 square feet! Sadly, as fate would have it, six weeks after the home was completed, his wife passed away.  Just about a year and a half later he too passed away...some say from a broken heart. 

Throughout the years, the Felt Mansion was a prep school for Catholic boys, a prison and then into a home for cloistered nuns.  Now, the Felt Mansion is a spot for seasonal events, tours of the mansion and grounds, or dancing the night away for a romantic wedding in 

  • Speaking of dancing , there has been sightings of shadowy figures dancing in the ballroom, ghostly images of Dorr and Agnes Felt wandering the hallways, or doors opening and closing on their own. 

28. Fayette Ghost Town (in Fayette State Park)

13700 13.25 Lane, Garden, Michigan

Fayette was once a bustling iron smelting town but now it sits abandoned and silent.  As you wander among the buildings, you can't help but feel an eerie presence. 

Named after Mr. Fayette Brown, the Jackson Iron Company agent who chose the site, Fayette was at one time, one of the Upper Peninsula's most productive iron-smelting operations.

Fayette operated from 1867 to l891.  Its blast furnaces produced a total of 229,288 tons of iron.  The operation used hardwood forests for fuel and limestone to purify the iron ore.  

When you visit Fayette State Park , be sure to check out the 19 structures which tells the story of iron smelting operations and those who lived there.

But be on the lookout for ghosts of miners past.  They may have stores about their own lives that they want to share with you. 

29. Quincy Mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula

Exterior of a mine in Houghton

Quincy Mine,  49750 US-41, Hancock, MI 49930

The Quincy Mine is an extensive set of copper mines located near Houghton Michigan .

The mine was owned by the Quincy Mining Company and operated between 1846 and 1945, although some activities continued through the 1970's.

As you can imagine, there were accidents while mining, leaving confused and angry miner ghosts roaming the area.

The Quincy Mine offers  tours  that tells of the fascinating history. 

Houghton, Michigan  has tons of great historic places to see, tour and explore.

30. Grand Island East Channel Light

Lighthouse near the water

Grand Island, Michigan (Near Munising, Michigan's Upper Peninsula)

Snapping this photo of the Grand Island East Channel Light was definitely eerie as I felt like I was being watched from the upper window .  

As we were told, one of the light house keepers had around 9 children and they all stayed in this lighthouse!  Talk about close quarters! 

This small wooden frame lighthouse and the North Light were built in 1867 for the purpose of guiding ships safely into Munising Bay.

However....

By 1905, the Lighthouse Board decided the light was no longer serving it's original purpose.  In 1908 range lights were constructed on the main land so it was abandoned for good in 1913. 

Want to see this haunted lighthouse?   Take a boat ride to see Pictured Rocks ! There's tons to see in Munising too!

31-34. Michigan State University | Spartan Spirits May Be Lurking Across the Campus!

Spooky reports keep floating around that Michigan State University may have some haunted sites.  Are there Spartan Spirits ?

Beaumont Tower - Several spooky reports indicate ghostly couples in old-timey dress, holding hands and wandering around Beaumont Tower on foggy mornings.

MSU Museum -  Over the past several years, Michigan State University students working in the basement labs late at night reported hearing spooky noises and echoes of people walking back and forth on the first and second floors above.

Mary Mayo Hall -  Possibly the most infamous ghost story is of Mary Mayo who is seen walking the halls and showing off her skills on the piano in the "Red Room."  The Red Room was rumored as a spot for satanic rituals and the spot where a young girl may have died. The floor where the Red Room is located is now closed to students and visitors, but lights and ghostly images are often spotted passing the 4th floor windows. 

Beai Garden - Visitors or students have witnesses spooky screams in the garden late at night. Shadowy figures and a male apparition dressed in 1920s clothing has been spotted. 

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Inside the Traverse City Mental Hospital

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how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

Exploring the haunted lighthouses of Michigan

By Wayne Thomas Grand Rapids Ghost Hunters

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

Dianna Higgs Stampler blends historical facts with insightful stories of haunted beacons in her book, “Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses.” According to Stampler, Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state and “nearly one-fifth of all the lights in the state, past and present, have a ghostly story.”

Paranormal speculation may surround 30 of the 129 iconic beacons dotted along our extended coast but the historical significance cannot be denied. The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum estimates these treacherous unpredictable waters have resulted in around 30,000 deaths with more than 25,000 shipwrecks at the bottom of the Great Lakes. 

The need and importance of lighthouses with their fog horns, bells, and cannons was most evident during the late 1800s as Michigan emerged as the leading lumber producing state in the nation. These events gave rise to a very serious breed of professionals with lifelong dedication, pretty much unparalleled. The lighthouse keeper, lightkeeper, or “wickies” as they were called in the early days became a family business, often passed down from generation to generation. While the lightkeeper might have been considered a man’s job, at least 19 women were appointed to keep the beacons burning, usually assuming the responsibilities of head keeper following the death of their husbands.   

It’s rumored the dedication to duties has extended beyond death for former keepers Captain Townshend at Seul Choix Point and John Herman at Waugoshance Shoal near Mackinaw City. Stampler states the Seul Choix Point Lighthouse may be “regarded as one of Michigan’s most haunted lighthouses” with as many as five ghosts. Stampler claims Willie Townshend’s cigar smoke still lingers throughout the structure as his presence seems to be the most active spirit at Seul Choix. John Herman probably the most infamous keeper at the Waugoshance light has been described as a heavy drinking prankster. After locking his assistant in the lighthouse lantern room late one night, John Herman was never seen again but the lightkeepers that followed claimed the pranks continued.

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

Stampler attributes these hauntings to former lightkeepers as well as the spirits of shipwrecked sailors seeking the safety and solace of the light. Stampler goes on to say that among the many ghosts that haunt our state’s lighthouses a handful are children, “most often girls dressed in period clothing.” To help explain why ghosts haunt, Stampler points to a common belief that spirits are often at unrest due to a tragic untimely death or dedication to service. Some hauntings indicate residual energy that is somehow recorded and replayed but other hauntings suggest an intelligent spirit interacting with the living. Evidence of Michigan’s haunted lighthouses includes: photos, recorded EVP ghost voices, icy cold spots, footsteps, smell of tobacco burning, laughter, hearing voices, seeing apparitions, beacon lights being seen even though there was no electricity to power it, and more. Here in Michigan we are surrounded by these mysterious structures and most of the lighthouses and attached museums are open to visitors. 

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how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

  • Grand Rapids/Muskegon
  • Saginaw/Bay City
  • All Michigan

Spooky happenings inside Michigan’s haunted lighthouses revealed in new book

  • Updated: Oct. 18, 2019, 12:52 p.m. |
  • Published: Oct. 17, 2019, 5:08 p.m.
  • Emily Bingham | [email protected]

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

Archives of Michigan

By Emily Bingham | [email protected]

Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state, and these shoreline sentinels have long captured our imaginations. They were often the lonely witnesses to shipwrecks, accidents, and the worst weather Mother Nature could throw at us in the Great Lakes. In the era before lighthouses became automated, entire families lived and died within their rooms. No doubt these iconic structures contain countless stories -- and, naturally, a few ghost stories, too.

In her new book " Michigan's Haunted Lighthouses "(The History Press, 2019), author Dianna Higgs Stampfler weaves together the factual histories and reported ghost stories of 13 supposedly haunted Michigan lighthouses. Stampfler says that of all the Great Lakes lighthouses, more than 40 are claimed to be haunted.

Whether true or not, the ghost stories associated with these structures only seem to add to lighthouses' allure.

"Michigan has several things that are iconic: Our great lakes are one, the Mackinac Bridge is another, and I think the lighthouses are part of that," Stampfler says. "Our earliest light was in the 1820's -- before Michigan even became a state."

While writing the book, Stampfler did extensive research into the histories of each of the 13 lighthouses, as well as the keepers and their families. In some cases Stampfler turned up information that debunked previous-held notions about events that happened at particular lighthouses, changing the facts that we know about these places.

"It was cool to dig up evidence that contradicted what I'd been told for 20 years," she says.

She also interviewed visitors, volunteers and staffers who now work at the lighthouses, gathering tales of mysterious incidents: strange sounds, apparitions, footsteps in the night.

"With these lighthouses, [the spirits] are mostly just keepers who served 20, 30, 40 years years or more, who I think just never wanted to leave their jobs," she says. "Or else it's the descendants of keepers -- for some, this was the only home they ever knew."

"In many cases these spirits are still looking out for the lighthouse, so they’re kind of still on duty."

Read on for a selection of lighthouses included in Stampfler's book. For more information, including talks related to the book's release, visit MIhauntedlighthouses.com .

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

Courtesy The History Press

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

Photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

The South Haven South Pierhead Light

South Haven Keeper's Dwelling

At the iconic South Haven South Pierhead Light keepers' residence -- now a library and research center for the Michigan Maritime Museum -- staffers and volunteers report spooky occurrences like creaking floorboards and doors opening and closing by themselves. The place is rumored to be haunted by James Samuel Donahue, a legendary keeper and Civil War veteran who tended the light from 1874 until his retirement in 1909.

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

U.S. Coast Guard

White River Light Station

White River Light Station

There are multiple accounts of haunting experiences at this Lake Michigan lighthouse, though most are friendly -- and even helpful, in the case of one possible ghost who has apparently assisted more than once with housekeeping duties on the second floor.

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

South Manitou Island Lighthouse

The Manitou Islands are storied places for many reasons -- after all, they gave rise to the  Aanishnabek legend that inspired Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore's name. The historic light on South Manitou Island is home to stories of a different kind, though; it's supposedly haunted by a keeper and his wife, who both died more than 140 years ago.

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

Seul Choix Point Lighthouse, c. 1915

Seul Choix Point Lighthouse

This 1895-built U.P. light east of Manistique reportedly is haunted by the ghost of a former keeper who loved to smoke cigars. You can see for yourself on one of the public tours when the light is open ( details here ).

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

Big Bay Point Lighthouse

You can actually stay the night at this lighthouse: It was converted to a bed and breakfast several decades ago, and offers guests a cozy place to stay on the magnificent shores of Lake Superior northwest of Marquette. There's a bonus to any overnight stay for those who love ghost stories, as the place is supposedly haunted by as many as five spirits.

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Marquette Harbor Lighthouse

One of Marquette's iconic historic structures, this U.P. lighthouse might be haunted by a child: There have been reports of a young girl appearing in one of the windows of the lighthouse's upper floors. The lighthouse is open Tuesday through Sunday for tours, if you want to try to catch a glimpse for yourself.

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

Whitefish Point Lighthouse

Located along the shores of what's been called Lake Superior's treacherous "shipwreck coast," Whitefish Point Lighthouse is now home to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum . According to Stampfler, there have been numerous accounts of strange, unexplained activity here, including voices, footsteps, and locked doors opening.

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

Saginaw River Rear Range Light

It's been reported that people have heard footsteps on the steel spiral staircase of this Bay City lighthouse -- even when there's no one else there. The 1876-built light has been vacant for decades, public tours are extremely limited, and while hauntings remain unproven, Stampfler points out an eerie part of the lighthouse's history. "There was a woman keeper there who outlived two of her husbands who served there," Stampfler says. "There was always this question in my mind whether she had something to do with their deaths."

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

National Archives and Records Administration

Waugoshance Shoal Lighthouse

Waugoshance Shoal Light

"Waugoshance is probably one of my favorites," Stampfler says. The 1850-built lighthouse has a colorful history, including being used by the Navy as a target to test remote-control drone bombing during the early stages of WWII. For years, fans of this Lake Michigan light believed that it was haunted by a keeper who'd drowned after drunkenly falling off the lighthouse crib -- though Stampfler's research found that the keeper actually died of a heart attack on Mackinac Island.

This light isn't open to the public but can be seen from the shoreline of Wilderness State Park near Michigan's Mackinaw Straits.

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

25 vintage photos of historic Michigan lighthouses

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

You can spend the night at these Michigan lighthouses

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

Library of Congress

These 11 Michigan ghost towns are eerily intriguing

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

Historic photos of Michigan ghost towns offer a spooky look into the past

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She's been investigating 13 haunted lighthouses in Michigan

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

With 129 beacons across the Great Lakes, Michigan is home to the most lighthouses in the country. 

While they draw thousands of beachgoers who flock to the state during the summer, the lighthouses more often these days are attracting a different type of tourist: Ghosthunters.

Just ask Dianna Stampfler.

She's been researching the subject for more than 20 years, and recently released her first book on the haunted histories of beacons: "Michigan's Haunted Lighthouses."

"I know many of these stories intimately, but I’ve been digging in even more to find photos, historical records, newspaper clippings and other details that shed light on the history of these beacons," Stampfler said. "I have even uncovered some facts that contradict what I previously believed about some of the keepers."

The book, part of the "Haunted America" series published by The History Press, focuses on 13 lighthouses in Michigan, while more than 30 are rumored to be haunted.

Here are some of the most haunted, according to Stampfler:

Located in the city of Gulliver in the Upper Peninsula, this lighthouse is considered to be one of Michigan's "most haunted" beacons. The 78-foot lighthouse was built in 1895, and was given its French-inspired name, which translates to "only choice." It is believed French sailors named the area Seul Choix as a place for them to seek shelter during a storm.

As many as five ghosts are believed to have visited the beacon, but the one that shows up the most is Captain Townshend.

"One hundred years after his death, Captain Townshend still enjoys a stogie inside his historic lighthouse, even though his wife, Ruth, never allowed such activity while they were alive," Stampfler wrote. "One could almost imagine this smug ghost of a man drifting through the lighthouse puffing on his cigar without a care in the world, because, in the afterlife, his wife has no control over his smoking habits."

Along with the smell of cigar smoke, other paranormal experiences at Seul Choix include moving furniture and faces in the mirrors.  

Waugoshance

This lighthouse has been haunted for over 100 years. Located on the Straits of Mackinac in the northern Lower Peninsula, accounts of ghost activity began in the late 1800s. During the summer of 1883, the wife of the second assistant lighthouse keeper started to suspect the place was haunted.  

“Clara found the lighthouse to be a very lonely place and she even believed it to have been haunted," wrote May Dietrich in her book, "James Davenport-First Keeper of Little Sable Point Lighthouse 1873-1879," which Stampfler references. 

"She claimed doors opened without human assistance and it was full of creaks and groans. She was afraid to stay alone and when her husband went to perform his duties in the tower, she would climb the stairs with him, holding his hand all the way.”

Keepers were advised to stay awake during their shifts, as a ghost was likely to kick the chair out from under them while they were sleeping. 

Fort Gratiot 

Located in Port Huron, the lighthouse is haunted by former keeper Robert "Lighthouse Bob" Hanford, who died in 2010. Paranormal investigators Motor City Ghost Hunters encountered Robert during a tour of the tower in 2014. 

“He looked the part of a lightkeeper … dressed in a period-correct U.S. Lighthouse Service uniform, Bob would proudly share the history of the station’s construction and service life as a major aid to navigation, as well as stories and artifacts from the site and the keepers who preceded him," posted website findagrave.com. "He was rightfully proud of his visitor logs, which contained thousands of names and hometowns of the guests who had come to visit him and his beloved lighthouse from all over the United State and the world.”

'Michigan's Haunted Lighthouses'

Copies of the book are available to purchase at mihauntedlighthouses.com . The book costs $19.99 plus tax, and all copies purchased from the author will be autographed or personalized.

Stampfler is embarking on a statewide book tour. Her first stop will be at the Historical Society of Michigan's Local History Conference in Sterling Heights on March 22. The conference. which runs from 10:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.,  is set for the Sterling Heights Banquet and Conference Center, 34911 Van Dyke. 

The author will also make an appearance at the Shelby Township Library July 24.

More: 3 lighthouses to get Michigan preservation grants

More: Michigan taking applications for Tawas Point lighthouse keepers

Lighthouse hauntings: About 30 of Michigan's beacons are said to have ghosts, author says in book

    During her first paranormal investigation of a haunted lighthouse, Dianna Stampfler chilled out with a friend in the whitewashed 100-foot tower for hours on a July night as the waters of Lake Michigan shimmered under the light of a rare Blue Moon.

    “We waited and waited for something to happen,” recalls Stampfler, who was aware of all kinds of spooky stories associated with the South Manitou Island Lighthouse in northern Michigan. “We didn’t hear anything. Nothing.”

    The South Manitou Island Lighthouse, built in 1872, was the site of several accidents and fatalities, including the drownings of keeper A.A. Sheridan and his wife, Julia, and their infant in a boating mishap in March 1878. Their bodies were never recovered.

    “There are stories that people hear voices of the Sheridan family, coming from the enclosed breezeway between the house and the tower, ” says Stampfler, who admits to initially not being much of a ghost believer or fan of horror genres in books and film. 

    Still, she heard enough ghost stories over the years to write “Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses,” first published in 2019 and reprinted since then. The book and Stampfler’s presentations about eerie lighthouses are popular Halloween-themed treats this time of year. 

    Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state. Of the more than 125 lighthouses along its Great Lakes shoreline, about 30 are rumored to be haunted, says Stampfler, who has been collecting tales since the late 1990s. She chose to highlight just 13 spooky lighthouses because the number seemed appropriate when talking about haunted sites.

    The 140-page book is about more than scary towers and structures. Stampfler has included histories of each lighthouse, the keepers and their families, local maritime and land history, as well as historic photos. There’s even a clip from a newspaper account of keeper Sheridan’s drowning about a mile from South Manitou. 

Other haunted lighthouses featured in the book include the keeper’s residence in South Haven, White River Light Station, Waugoshance Shoal Light, Big Bay Point Lighthouse, Marquette Harbor Lighthouse, Point Iroquois, Old Presque Isle Lighthouse, Saginaw River Rear Range Lighthouse and Seul Choix Point Lighthouse. 

“The purpose of lighthouses is to protect people on the water but that didn’t always happen,” Stampfler says, explaining the public’s fascination with lighthouses and their lore.  “There are a lot of shipwrecks, lots of lives lost in the late 1800s and early 1900s. There’s a certain amount of spirit activity because of that. A handful of keepers lost their lives in service, their daily work or attempting to rescue people who were in distress.”

    Perhaps the most haunted lighthouse stands in Gulliver, in the Upper Peninsula, she says. The Seul Choix Point Lighthouse has the most ghost stories associated with its nearly 150 years along the northern Lake Michigan shoreline. As many as five spirits are believed to reside at this remote light; the most noted is that of former keeper Joseph Willie Townshend. He died in 1910 of what was probably lung cancer. Visitors often report smelling the pungent odor of his cigars as they walk throughout the keeper’s home, now a museum.

“It’s funny that people never tire of hearing about the disembodied voices, unexplained sounds and other activity attributed to ghosts – many of them former keepers who have chosen to remain on the job so to speak, even after death,” says Stampfler, who has her own consulting company, Promote Michigan, and lives in Walloon Lake. 

Almost all of the lighthouses highlighted in her book are open to the public. The keeper’s residence in South Haven is a research library and open only by appointment. Some have limited hours. The South Manitou Island Lighthouse was inaccessible this past summer because ferry service to the island, part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, was cancelled. The Waugoshance Shoal Light near Mackinac Island is in ruins.

While one might expect many lost spirits lurking in the Whitefish Point Lighthouse along the rugged Lake Superior shoreline, the resident ghost there is believed to be a young girl.  Whitefish Point is where the Edmund Fitzgerald sank in 1975 and the dangerous stretch, known as the “Graveyard of the Great Lakes,” is home to more than 240 shipwrecks. The girl is believed to be Bertha Endress, the granddaughter of one-time keeper Robert Carlson. She lived into her 90s and was helpful in restoration efforts with the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.

Questions about ghosts at lighthouses are not uncommon from visitors to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, which is part of the campus of the Whitefish Point Lighthouse.

“There are occasionally questions about ghosts but not a whole lot. There’s more interest in shipwrecks like the Edmund Fitzgerald,” says Bruce Lynn, executive director of the museum, adding, however, that visitors find lighthouses fascinating. “People have these romanticized images of lighthouses as remote outposts, beacons guiding ships, and they’re in scenic locations and that attracts people.”  

Lynn understands the interest in paranormal, given the age of lighthouses and the number of shipwrecks and deaths along the treacherous Lake Superior coastline. If retrieved bodies of the crew were not claimed by family, they were often buried along the beach. He recalls one story about a crew member whose body washed ashore encased in ice. In trying to chop the ice away, a couple of the man’s fingers were cut off. 

“Supposedly, the guy’s name is three-fingered Reilley and he walks the beach as a ghost,” Lynn says. “That story was told by life-saving crews in the 1870s, ‘80s and ‘90s. These guys would patrol the beach at night, more often than not by themselves, looking for shipwrecks and victims. It’s dark, sometimes stormy, windy … you can imagine how eerie. The fact that this tale has been told a long time makes it all the more interesting.”

As you might expect, the state’s oldest lighthouse, Fort Gratiot in Port Huron, is reportedly haunted, as well. Several spirits reside in the lighthouse, which dates back to 1825. They include former keeper Frank Kimball. Public and private investigations over the years have produced a series of interesting photos, videos and audio recordings attributed to him and others who have ties to this Lake Huron lighthouse.

Stampfler, who has become a more savvy ghost hunter since that evening on South Manitou, is among those who have experienced the supernatural at Fort Gratiot. That supernatural experience, however, came after she had turned her manuscript in, so the lighthouse is not included in the book. 

     “We participated in one of these investigations ourselves in October 2018,” Stampfler says. “We witnessed bizarre flashlight activities, voices coming through the spirit box and even have a few intriguing photographs on our phones which we can’t explain. Even other ghost hunters are having trouble determining how these images came to be.”

    Stampfler’s interest in haunted lighthouses and the supernatural grew over the years after she researched lighthouses as part of a project for the West Michigan Tourist Association in Grand Rapids. Her research evolved into public presentations about the lighthouses and their lore. She’d often hear stories, spooky and otherwise, about the lighthouses. 

    Her next book will also be related to lighthouses but will focus on the mysterious deaths of about 10 lighthouse keepers around the Great Lakes. These keepers did not die of either natural causes or during the regular commission of their jobs. 

    Although ghost stories are entertaining and many people find them fascinating, Stampfler acknowledges that not everyone believes in the supernatural. She’s not out to prove them otherwise, only to share what she’s learned over the years. 

    “I’ve had a lot of weird experiences as I’ve traveled,” Stampfler says. “I’m not here to say you have to believe in ghosts. I started doing research and giving presentations in the late 1990s. I didn’t become much of a believer until much later on.”

'Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses'

By Dianna Stampfler

Autographed copies of the book are available online at www.MiHauntedLighthouses.com .

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Michigan’s Most Haunted Lighthouse: Big Bay Point, Upper Peninsula

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For approximately 200 years, lighthouses along Michigan lake coastlines have guided sailors, captains, and their crews to safety. With all those Great Lakes coastlines, it’s no surprise that Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state in the country…at last count, 129 of them still remain. At one time, we had up to 250 of ‘em along the shores of three of our Great Lakes: Huron, Michigan, and Superior. The first one began operating in 1825.

Lighthouses that failed to operate at one time or another have been the cause of shipwrecks and the loss of their inhabitants…strong gales, blinding blizzards, and unrelenting torrents of rain are sometimes too much for lighthouses to successfully help a ship steer clear of the rocks ahead.

Of the 129 still standing, it’s reported that at least one in every five (making 26) is/are haunted. Of course, belief in ghosts and hauntings are left to each individual; whether you believe, are mildly interested, or just pooh-pooh the whole ‘haunting’ idea, the fact remains that these rumors exist and have for over one hundred years.

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

Of the 26 possible lighthouse hauntings, the one that seems to be Michigan’s Most Haunted is the Big Bay Lighthouse 25 miles northwest of Marquette. The lighthouse, which opened in 1896, is also a Bed & Breakfast, so it’s easy to go and find out for yourself if these supernatural tales are true. Five ghosts are said to still reside at Big Bay.

Lighthouse keeper Harry William Prior was the first keeper here. After being disappointed in one assistant keeper after another, in November 1898 Prior hired his son George as assistant. This went on until April 1901 when George fell on the steps, slashing open his leg down to the shinbone. In the hospital George contracted gangrene which eventually took his life. Depressed and despondent over his son’s death, Henry grabbed a gun and strychnine, and went off into the woods. His skeleton was found a year and a half later, hanging from a tree. It's the spirit of Henry that is said to be the "ghost with the most" occurrences.

After the old lighthouse opened as an inn in the 1980s, ghostly sightings started being reported by guests. Two separate guests saw a spirit dressed in a U.S. life-saving uniform walking around the lighthouse. The shower in the basement turns on when no one is there, loud banging is heard coming from nowhere, slamming cupboards, lights going on & off, the sight of a tall red-headed man in an 1800s uniform strolling thru the grounds, doors opening & closing, footsteps with no source, reflections in mirrors, and countless other instances.

As previously mentioned, the Big Bay Point lighthouse is open for the Bed & Breakfast business, and you should spend a night – or two, if the first night doesn’t scare you away.

Michigan's Most Haunted Lighthouse: Big Bay Point

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how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

Haunting tales of Michigan’s lighthouses rooted in historic events

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Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses is $19.99 at https://promotemichigan.com/haunted-lighthouses-book.

 The White River Light Station in Whitehall might never have existed had it not been for the dedication of Capt. William “Bill” Robinson III.

Robinson moved to the the area in the 1860s with his wife, Sarah, and seven of their children. He petitioned the U.S. Lighthouse Service to have a beacon built, and until it was he hung a lantern on a pole at the mouth of White River to aid passing ships.

The lighthouse was finally lit in 1876, and the Robinsons were the first keepers. Capt. Bill died while keeping the light lit at the White River Light Station.

Some say he’s still at it.

Karen McDonnell, who lived at the light from 1983 to 2012 as a modern-day keeper and museum curator, has had countless encounters with the ghosts of both Capt. Bill and Sarah.

She heard his footsteps on the staircase leading to the lantern room, she said.

“I like the comfort it gives me,” McDonnell said. “It’s like a watchman, just making sure everything is okay before it’s too late at night.”

Her tale is among those told by Dianna Higgs Stampfler’s “Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses,” published by the History Press. It includes information that Stampfler has been researching and writing about for nearly 20 years.

“Many of these haunted sites exist because spirits of former lighthouse keepers just did not want to leave,” Stampfler said.

Nearly one-fifth of all the lights in the state have a ghostly story, she said.

Lighthouse keepers took their jobs seriously. Some held the position for more than 40 years. Sometimes lighthouse keeping was a family business. The tasks were split between husbands and wives, children and grandchildren.

The Michigan lighthouse with the most ghostly activity is Waugoshance on the Straits of Mackinac off the northern Lower Peninsula, Stampfler said. It’s said to have been haunted for more than 100 years.

Even the most haunted of lighthouses fail to scare her.

“People expect it to be like, ‘oh, this ghost scratched me!’

None of these stories have been like that, Stampfler said. “They have mostly been sightings of people who died during shipwrecks. There have never been attacks on people or destruction of property.”

Stampfler has written professionally since she was in high school. She graduated from Western Michigan University with majors in English and broadcasting .

Along with writing, she handles public relations ,  marketing, social media and events for Promote Michigan, a public relations consulting company that is “an outlet to promote all things about the Great Lakes State, its people, places and products from coast to coast,” according to her website.

Her background in journalism is helpful for tracking down haunted activities.

”You have people who are adamant that there are no ghosts,” she said. “I wanted to make sure I was sharing both sides of that. The bottom line is the family history, the keepers and the family histories themselves are true. The perception of the ghost is questionable to each individual person.”

Her stories come from lighthouse museums, friends and family. She enlisted her father, a genealogist, to help dig up family history of the lighthouse keepers. Google helped her find ghost stories and she even used reviews about haunted happenings from Tripadvisor and Yelp to find good leads.

Some skeptics question the truthfulness of these ghost stories.

“We definitely understand the fascination of haunts and ghosts– after all, as historians, perhaps we are more in tune with dead people,” said Emily Stap, who is the archives and office manager of the Michigan Maritime Museum in South Haven. “As a reputable museum, we strive to provide the public with facts and truths regarding the past.”

Since 1997, Stampfler has been presenting programs about Michigan’s historic lighthouses, ghost towns and other unique places across the state. That’s how she landed the book deal in March 2017.

The publisher had been Googling the topic and found out about her presentations.

She picked the lighthouses to include from the 36 she knew were associated with ghost stories.

“I tried to pick ones with the best stories and photos,” she said. “I also tried to spread it out geographically so I was getting lights on as many of the Great Lakes as I could.”

Readers can visit many of the lighthouses featured in the book and have the opportunity for ghostly experiences themselves. Those interested in a ghostly lighthouse encounter could volunteer as a keeper at South Manitou Island’s historic lighthouse — one of only a few locations in the state where such an offer is available, Stampfler said.

“The book is a chance for me to sell something that people take away after my presentations,” she said. “It enhanced something that I was already doing. This publisher doesn’t do sequels but we are talking about other topics I have equally historic knowledge of.

“Maybe another book will come in 2020.”

In the meantime, if you stop by the White River Light Station, keep an eye out for Capt. Bill who continues his nightly rounds 150 years later — to the shock of the temporary staff. The captain’s wife, Sarah, is also helpful, McDonnell said.

Once McDonnell left the upstairs bedroom to take a call. When she returned, she discovered someone had finished her dusting — even though she was alone.

The cleaning supplies were even moved from one side of the room to the other.

“Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses” is $19.99 at  https://promotemichigan.com/haunted-lighthouses-book . It can also be purchased at the Michigan Historical Museum store and more than 20 bookstores and gift shops statewide.

Stampfler’s upcoming speaking events are listed at  https://promotemichigan.com/speakers-bureau .

Provided to City Pulse by Capital News Service.  

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ULTIMATE Michigan Lighthouses Guide with MAP

South haven lighthouse

by Bella DiMascio

Michigan Lighthouses Guide

With over 115 lighthouses, Michigan is home to more lighthouses than any other state, and they’re all found on the fresh water of the Great Lakes coast. This Michigan Travel Guide will walk you through all the best lighthouses in Michigan from the southernmost Lake Michigan coasts to Mackinaw City and beyond into the Upper Peninsula. 

Be sure to scroll down to use the Interactive Michigan Lighthouse Map to help you plan your visit!

Lake Michigan Lighthouses 

Around half of Michigan’s lighthouses are on Lake Michigan. Here you’ll find bold red pierhead lights, tall columns that tower over the sandy beaches they guard, and even ones with keeper quarters attached (some of which are available for stays).

st joseph lighthouse

St. Joseph North Pierhead Lighthouses

The North Pier in St. Joe is home to an iconic pair of lighthouses. The pier inner light is a round structure in the middle of the pier, while the pier outer light is a 35 foot tower at the end of the pier. The two are connected by an elevated catwalk and together they mark the mouth of the St. Joseph River. The St. Joseph North Pier is accessed at Tiscornia Park. 

Big Red Lighthouse in Holland Michigan

Holland Harbor Lighthouse

One of the most popular tourist destinations in west Michigan, the Holland Harbor Lighthouse has such an unforgettable and unique shape that we couldn’t possibly skip it. Affectionately called “Big Red,” Holland’s lighthouse looks remarkably like a big red house and is the single most photographed lighthouse in Michigan. See the lighthouse from Holland State Park’s boardwalk, or climb Mr. Pisgah for a view from 157 feet above sea level.

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South Haven South Pierhead Lighthouse

The South Haven South Pierhead Light stands proudly in Michigan, positioned at the gateway of the Black River where it meets Lake Michigan. Initially illuminated in 1872, this lighthouse continues to serve its purpose diligently. Its tower, a compact rendition of the Muskegon South Pierhead Light , was erected to replace the original wooden structure dating back to 1872.

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Grand Haven Lighthouse

The west Michigan lighthouses at South Haven and Grand Haven stand as a sort of mirror to each other across about 50 miles of Lake Michigan coastline. Together they act as symbols of Michigan’s maritime culture with their bright red paint and classic designs. In Grand Haven, the inner light is cylindrical like South Haven’s, but the outer pier looks more like a little red house.

big sable point lighthouse

Big and Little Sable Point Lighthouses

Near Ludington , the Big and Little Sable Point Lighthouses sit along a wildly beautiful stretch of lake Michigan. These are some of the tallest lighthouses in the state, with the Big Sable Point Lighthouse standing at 110 feet tall, and the Little Sable Point Lighthouse just a few feet shorter. Both stand tall over swathes of untouched Michigan shoreline, creating the perfect summer escape or eerie winter exploration site. 

muskegon lighthouse - michigan lighthouses

Muskegon South Pierhead Lighthouse & South Breakwater Light

Both of Muskegon’s iconic lighthouses are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The South Pierhead Light is 48 feet tall and located in the harbor, accessible by a pedestrian walkway. You can even climb the spiral staircase for stellar views.

The South Breakwater Light, however, is located at the end of the breakwater surrounding the mouth of the Muskegon Channel. Its unique boxy shape stands out against the traditional look of the Pierhead light . You can walk the path atop the breakwater to see it up close. 

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White River Light Station

This 150-year-old lighthouse is located in Whitehall. The light-colored bricks used in its construction create a homey atmosphere and the trees all around make this isolated beacon a must-see destination without the crowds that other lighthouses can draw in. Allegedly haunted by the original keeper and his family, make this a destination during the Halloween season. 

point betsie lighthouse

Point Betsie Lighthouse

In Frankfort , the Point Betsie Lighthouse delivers an unrivaled charm. This northwest Michigan lighthouse is situated on the shore and the tower itself is connected to a cozy white house where the lighthouse keeper would reside. The quaint keeper’s quarters are available to the public for rent, offering an opportunity for a stay in Frankfort like no other all year round.

South Manitou Island Lighthouse

Located within the boundaries of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Leelanau County, it’s one of northern Michigan’s most remote lights. The island light is visible from the mainland, some 20 miles away. This most identifiable landmark on the island is over 100 feet tall, and visiting the island for a closer look is well worth it.

From the dock, a half-mile walk through the village and to the boardwalk will take you over the dunes to the lighthouse where you can get a tour and see the breathtaking view from the top. 

The North Manitou Shoal Light is located a mile offshore of North Manitou Island. 

old mission llighthouse

Old Mission Point Lighthouse

At the end of Traverse City’s picturesque Old Mission Peninsula , sits a lighthouse that’s over 150 years old. The drive to the light through seemingly endless cherry orchards and vineyards leads to a cute little house with a light on top which offers picturesque views of Lake Michigan. Though it’s no longer active, visitors can still peer into the life of those who kept the light during its heyday. 

Seul Choix Point Lighthouse

Located along the northern shore of Lake Michigan, the Seul Choix Lighthouse is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Seul Choix Point Lighthouse guards the southern Lake Michigan coast of the Upper Peninsula in Gulliver.

Much like the White River Light Station, stories of unexplainable occurrences and spooky happenings make their way out of this destination, making it a favorite for those who take interest in the paranormal . However, even those uninterested in ghost stories can appreciate the classic nautical style of the stark white light tower, and the lovely little brick home attached is where the keepers live. 

More Michigan Lighthouses Worth Exploring

  • Beaver Island Harbor Lighthouse 
  • Charlevoix South Pier Lighthouse 
  • Grand Traverse Lighthouse 
  • South Fox Island Lighthouse 

tawas point lighthouse

Lake Huron Lighthouses 

If you’re looking for your very own pure Michigan getaway featuring a towering lighthouse standing proud on a windswept coast, Lake Huron lighthouses are your answer. Some of these lighthouses are still active and operational, and some of these buildings stand testament to the rich nautical history of the Great Lakes State.

DeTour Reef Lighthouse

Located a mile offshore in northern Lake Huron, this exceptional lighthouse built on a crib is the perfect lighthouse touring destination for families with and without kids. This historic lighthouse is open for tours, and it’s well worth the price to take a ferry from Drummond Island out to the lighthouses, where you can strap into a safety harness and climb the tower.

Mackinac Point Lighthouse

This Mackinac Island Lighthouse was built in 1892 and marks Mackinaw Point, the spot where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet . Located within Michilimackinac State Park, this 49’ limestone lighthouses have guided shops through the Straits of Mackinac for almost 130 years. Both the lighthouse tower and original buildings have been restored and are open for daily tours in season . While you’re here, be sure to check out the rest of what Mackinac Island has to offer. 

round island lighthouse

Round Island Lighthouse

You’ve seen this lighthouse before: in photographs; on postcards and calendars; on television and in the movies. The iconic red and white Round Island lighthouse is familiar to anyone who has ridden the Mackinac Island ferry: you pass right by on your way to docks.

The Round Island Lighthouse has endured some of the fiercest storms on the Great Lakes, with high winds and winter ice flows that resemble glaciers. Next time you’re heading to Mackinac Island, be vigilant and catch the view from the water as you pass by on the ferry ride.

Bois Blanc Island Lighthouse

This unique light is located on Bois Blanc Island near Mackinac Island is privately owner and has been restored. It is not open to the public; however, you can see it quite clearly from a boat on the lake.

cheboygan crib lighthouse

Cheboygan Crib Light (Cheboygan River Front Range Lighthouse)

This uniquely shaped lighthouse built in 1880 and restored in 2004 is one of the more unique lighthouses of the area. With its square build and bright red accents, the Cheboygan River Front Range Light is open to the public, from Memorial Day to Labor Day on weekends.

Poe Reef Lighthouse

Built in 1928 to guide ships through a dangerous passage, this 71-foot tall white-and-black square tower sits on Poe Reef off the coast of Cheboygan . The only way to truly see this light up close and personal is in a private boat, as the crib is closed to visitors.

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40 Mile Point Lighthouse

Positioned on the northern shoreline of Lake Huron, the Forty Mile Point Lighthouse is located in Presque Isle County’s Lighthouse Park. This is a unique lighthouse because it is not located at the mouth of a river or in a harbor: it is located at a point 40 miles south of Mackinac. While the park this picturesque lighthouse is in is open year-round from 8 am to sunset, most of the tour programs, as well as museums, are open from Memorial Day through mid-October, so plan accordingly.

old presque isle lighthouse

Old and New Presque Isle Lighthouses

As far as dreamy, romantic lighthouses go, this set is one for the books. Set up on opposing sides of a peninsula that helps to shape Presque Isle Harbor, these beautiful lighthouses are a Michigan-must. Built in 1840, the Old Presque Isle lighthouse is one of the oldest in Michigan and is said to be haunted. The New Presque Isle Lighthouse, however, is only a few decades younger than the old one, and is one of the tallest accessible lighthouses on the Great Lakes. 

Middle Island Lighthouse

Located 10 miles offshore , on an Alpena island exactly between Thunder Bay Island and Presque Isle Harbor in Lake Huron, the Middle Island Light is a Michigan must-see .

Built in 1905, the lighthouse is now owned by the Coast Guard, but the grounds surrounding the lighthouse (and the entire island for that matter) are privately owned, so it’s best to admire it from the water. 

Thunder Bay Island Lighthouse

One of Michigan’s oldest running lighthouses, this historic structure was built in 1832, using all locally sourced limestone. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is adjacent to the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve. Thunder Bay Island Lighthouse is still operational and tours are not offered, so the best way to see this lighthouse is by boat.

sturgeon point lighthouse

Sturgeon Point Lighthouse

The Sturgeon Point Lighthouse and the surrounding grounds are one of the best-kept secrets in Michigan. Located just north of Harrisville, a tiny harbor town that’s big on charm, the Sturgeon Point Lighthouse is worth a road trip.

Still maintained by the US Coast Guard, the Sturgeon Point Lighthouse grounds are open all year round for visitors and the keepers house now turned into a Maritime Museum is open from Memorial Day through September.

Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse

Located near Port Austin  at the tip of Michigan’s Thumb, the Pointe Aux Barques light is one of the oldest lightouses in Michigan. Built of stone that was pulled directly from Lake Huron, both the lighthouse and keeper’s house, set on three acres, have been completely restored and are open for visitors to tour. 

tawas point lighthouse

Tawas Point Lighthouse

A must-see destination in Michiga n, Tawas Point lighthouse has been in commission since 1876. Located in Tawas State Park, the Tawas Point Lighthouse serves as the sole representative of a true Victorian-era style station on the Great Lakes , and a very active group of volunteers keep tours and outdoor activities running smoothly.

PRO-TIP: Tawas Point is a popular spot for birdwatchers, too.

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse

Built in 1814 to keep watch over the conjunction of the St. Clair River and Lake Huron, the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in all of Michigan. Although Fort Gratiot is the oldest lighthouse, it is also one of the only lighthouses that still allow you to climb all the way to the tippy top. The view once you’re up there is none other than a view of Port Huron and the international Blue Water Bridge to Canada.

More Lake Huron Lighthouses

  • McGulpin Point Lighthouse in Emmet County 
  • Port Sanilac Lighthouse 
  • Harbor Beach Light

Point Iroquois Ligthouse - michigan lighthouses

Lake Superior Lighthouses

Lake Superior Lighthouses are built to be tough and stand tall to the fierce waves and winds of one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world . Of all the Great Lakes, Lake Superior has the most lighthouses on its shores, so it’s no surprise that Michigan’s northernmost coasts have plenty to see for lighthouse enthusiasts. 

Point Iroquois Lighthouse

Point Iroquois Lighthouse marks the division between Whitefish Bay and the western end of the St. Mary’s River, home to the Soo Locks. First built in 1855 and standing at 65 feet tall, the Point Iroquois Lighthouse is one of the tallest in the state and offers phenomenal views of Lake Superior, Canada, the St. Mary’s River, and more.  

whitefish point light station

Whitefish Point Light Station

Located in Chippewa County, the Whitefish Point Light is the oldest operating lighthouse on Lake Superior. This picturesque lighthouse is located on windswept cape jutting out into Lake Superior. Here, you’ll also find  the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, a bird observatory and an underwater preserve.  

Interwoven with the stunning natural beauty of the area is the dramatic history of the Great Lakes shipping industry along Michigan’s Shipwreck Coast, where evidence still remains of the fierce capabilities of Lake Superior. It’s here where you’ll learn the facts of the tragic Edmund Fitzgerald shipwreck, where 29 crew members lost their lives, and see artifacts from the ship, too.

Crisp Point Lighthouse

Hidden on a deserted shore of Lake Superior just north of Newberry, Michigan, Crisp Point Lighthouse is widely considered one of the Upper Peninsula’s most inaccessible and lonely lighthouses on the mainland.

Originally built in 1903 with the intention of being a Life Saving Station, “Storm Warriors” stayed here, ready to battle the violence of Lake Superior to rescue shipwrecked sailors and bring them back to dry land.

Au Sable Point Lighthouse

Au Sable Point Light Station

Within Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Au Sable Point Lighthouse has stood tall since 1874. The light station includes the lighthouse as well as a brick oil building, a fog signal building, and the keepers house. The Au Sable light station is still in operation, but instead of using the older lighting methods, today it uses a smaller, solar-powered light that shines over Lake Superior automatically.

Marquette Harbor Lighthouse

The Marquette Harbor Lighthouse shares its name and location with the Upper Peninsula’s largest town. Since 1853 this light has served as a navigational beacon, guiding ships to the ore docks of Marquette, Michigan. Now owned by the city of Marquette, visitors can take a tour of the facility through the Marquette Maritime Museum at regularly scheduled times. 

grand island lighthouse - michigan lighthouses

Grand Island East Channel Lighthouse

Near Munising, across the bay from Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, the Grand Island East Channel Lighthouse marked Munising Harbor as a harbor of refuge for ships on Lake Superior. This wooden lighthouse is located on the southern end of Grand Island and looks especially eerie as it stands alone on the coast. 

Grand Island Harbor Rear Range Lighthouse

Also known as the Au Sable Point LighthouseBay Furnace Range Light, Grand Island Harbor Rear Range Lighthouse is located near Christmas, Michigan, west of Munising, in Alger County. Standing 70 feet tall, it was first lit in 1914.

Presque Isle Harbor Breakwater Light

Presque Isle Harbor Breakwater Lighthouse is found on the east side of Presque Isle Harbor in Marquette. When compared to its neighbors in the Upper Peninsula, this lighthouse is quite new, having been built in 1941.

So long as the weather is clear and the water is calm, visitors to the lighthouse are welcome to walk the breakwater to the lighthouse. Just be sure to wear sturdy shoes with good grip, since the rocky breakwater can be difficult to traverse. 

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Copper Harbor Lighthouse

As the name suggests, the Copper Harbor Lighthouse is located on Copper Harbor on the Keweenaw Peninsula. The Copper Harbor Lighthouse was built in the year 1848 with the intention of aiding the transportation of copper ore mined in the Upper Peninsula. Today the Copper Harbor Lighthouse is closed to the public and out of commission.

Rock of Ages Lighthouse

One of the tallest and most powerful beacons of light on the Great Lakes, the  Rock of Ages Lighthouse  is located five miles off the northwest tip of Isle Royale in Lake Superior .  Located on a rocky outcrop near Isle Royale National Park to warn ships of the dangerous Rock of Ages reef, and the Rock Light is one of the most unique lighthouses on the Great Lakes.

eagle harbor lighthouse

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse

At the western entrance to Eagle Harbor, the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse continues to operate, helping to guide ships around the Keweenaw Waterway. Today the lighthouse is now part of the Keweenaw County Historical Society’s Light Station Museum Complex and is open for the public to visit. 

Ontonagon Lighthouse

Unlike many of its neighbors, the Ontonagon Lighthouse doesn’t sit directly on Lake Superior. Instead, you can find the Ontonagon Lighthouse on the Ontonagon River near its Lake Superior entry.

The purpose of this was to guide ships into the harbor at Ontonagon , which meant heading a little bit upstream into the heart of the town. Today the lighthouse is no longer operational, but is available to tour.

More Lake Superior Lighthouses to Visit

  • Grand Marais Lighthouse 
  • Big Bay Point Lighthouse in Big Bay, MI
  • St. Martin Lighthouse on St. Martin Island 

More Michigan Lighthouses to See 

William livingstone memorial lighthouse .

Located on Belle Isle in the Detroit River, t his historic lighthouse was built by famed Detroit architect Albert Kahn and is worth a visit. Sculpted out of Georgia marble, this 58-foot tall pillar at the north end of the island is the only structure of its kind, and pays tribute to Detroit businessman William Livingstone. an important figure in Great Lakes shipping history. 

St. Clair Flats Front and Rear Range Light

These two lighthouses are located on Harsens island, a grassy island in the Lake St. Clair. Both the front light and the rear light are closed to the public. 

Explore More Michigan Lighthouses

  • Explore These Historic Lake Michigan Lighthouses
  • Scenic Lighthouses on Lake Huron
  • Michigan’s Frozen Lighthouses: Visit Michigan Lighthouses in the Winter

About the Author-  Bella DiMascio is a Content Editor for mymichiganbeach.com. She grew up in the Detroit suburb of Westland and later attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo where she majored in Communication Studies and minored in English: Writing. Creative writing has been a hobby and interest of Bella’s since she was in elementary school and she is thrilled to be using her talents to highlight the Great Lakes State. Outside of writing, Bella enjoys getting outside with her two Australian Shepherds, playing video games, and binging shows on Netflix.

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how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

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Thumbcoast Articles

Haunted trail – michigan’s thumbcoast.

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

Have you ever gotten an eerie feeling from somewhere?

According to some mortals, ghost haunts and paranormal activity are prevalent in the Thumbcoast. If you dare, take this self-guided tour of the spine-tingling locations we dug up and make the final arrangements to visit. Tag us in your ghost adventures on our Facebook , Instagram , or TikTok pages.

The 10 Haunted

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

1. The Morrow Road legend dates back to the 1800s. A woman passed away searching for her lost child. Some people claimed to see her at night along the road calling out for her child. Visit Paranormal Video Archive or Michigan’s Otherside for their takes on the story.

Photo | Paranormal Video

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

2. Marine City Hall was the former location of the city offices. Today, it remains for renovations. According to the Friends of City Hall members, a haunt was present, and they called in a paranormal investigation group.

Photo | Marine City Hall

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

3. 1836, Murphy Inn is one of the state’s oldest inns. Guests can still rent a room here if they dare. There are accounts of a haunting presence in the overnight rooms and the basement. The story & videos are by John Robinson .

Photo | WFMK

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

4. The Kammer Cabin, built in the 1850s, has long been thought to be haunted. This cabin was moved here from Casco Township; perhaps the move or its former life had a spooky history. Join Detroit Rock City’s Paranormal Investigation on Oct. 29, 2022, of the cabin and Carnegie Museum. Advanced tickets are required.

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

5. The Carnegie Center as unexplained paranormal phenomena reported. Objects were seen being thrown across the room, and creepy voices were heard while unexplained music plays. These haunts may be tied to the historical artifacts on display, such as the iron lung. Join Detroit Rock City’s Paranormal Investigation of the Carnegie Center on Oct. 28, 2023. Eventbrite Tickets , limited availability.

How Many Believe?

According to a poll by IPSOS, one of the world’s leading independent market research companies, “over a third of Americans believe in ghosts (36%) and U.F.O’s (39%).” Over a third of Americans believe in ghosts and U.F.O’s article from October 20, 2021.

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

6. It’s no surprise that Michigan’s oldest lighthouse, built in 1829 for the second time, has a few haunts. Join Detroit Rock City’s investigation of the Fort Gratiot Light on Oct. 21, 2023, and see if they uncover any activity using lots of techniques and equipment. Tickets on Eventbrite , limited availability.

Photo by Andrew Kercher

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

7. The Cadillac House Inn & Tavern is a registered historical location from the mid-nineteenth century and claims to be haunted by a ghost named George. The staff doesn’t deny a strong presence in the hotel; others have investigated this and felt the same way. 

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

8. The Sanilac County Historic Museum grounds are said to be haunted and will be investigated by Detroit Paranormal this fall. The Loop-Harrison Mansion, dated 1872 and formerly owned by the village physician, the church, and the Huckins Schoolhouse, dated 1847, have had apparitions reported by employees and guests.

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

Every year, Sanilac County Museum, holds a Creepy Baby Doll Contest ! If you have a doll scare-worthy, enter it into the contest by October 12th, 2023. Visitors to the museum can cast a vote to pick the creepiest doll.

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

9. Minnie Quay is still a legend to many 150 years after her death. Many claim to have seen her walking the shoreline of Lake Huron in the quiet town of Forester. Her grave is heavily visited and trinkets are left in remembrance. Visit the Facebook page dedicated to telling her story, a book (Dead Reckoning) or visit Lost in Michigan , Find a Grave for additional stories.

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

10. The spirit of Catherine Shook, Michigan’s first female light-keeper, is said to haunt the Point Aux Barques Lighthouse. This light is at the tip of Michigan’s Thumb overlooking Lake Huron. This site was investigated by East Michigan Paranormal Society according to Huron County Parks or visit Lost in Michigan for their take on it.

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

You can stay overnight at Michigan’s oldest lighthouse in a bunk room of the keepers dwelling. The stay includes a tour of the grounds and a climb to the top of the lighthouse. This unique opportunity is available through Port Huron Museums.

Patches are available for purchase at the gift shop

Never enter private property or public properties after posted open hours. Respect all locations and those that live around where you visit. Do not leave anything behind that may be considered littering. Do not take a memento or keepsake from the places you visit.

Article by Katie Stepp, Blue Water Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

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how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

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  • MICHIGAN'S HAUNTED LIGHTHOUSES

MICHIGAN'S HAUNTED LIGHTHOUSES

  • https://www.buchananlibrary.org/about-us/calendar/michigans-haunted-lighthouses
  • 2023-10-11T18:00:00-04:00
  • 2023-10-11T19:00:00-04:00
  • When Oct 11, 2023 from 06:00 PM to 07:00 PM (US/Eastern / UTC-400)
  • Contact Name Jen Munoz
  • Contact Phone 269-695-3681

how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

What is it about lighthouses that attract ghostly spirits? Maybe it’s simply a passion that will not go away. Lighthouse keepers were known to be extremely dedicated to their profession and it seems that many were never able to give it up — even after death. More than 30 lights in Michigan are rumored to be haunted. From the smell of cigar smoke at Seul Choix Point Light to the mysterious housekeeping at White River Light Station and the antics at Waugoshance Shoal, these stories will entertain all ages. Join author Dianna Stampfler Wednesday, October 11 to learn more about Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses.

Wednesday, october 11 at 6:00pm.

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Big Red Lighthouse

Holland's beloved and popular "Big Red" lighthouse, which stands proudly at the south side of the Holland Channel, has a long and rich history dating back to the first structure built on that site in 1870. Currently the lighthouse is owned and maintained by a non-profit lighthouse commission and is Michigan's most photographed lighthouse.

For the best view of Big Red, visit the Holland State Park where you can walk along the board walk to the north pier (wheelchair accessible). You can also view Big Red from Mt. Pisgah, where the dune stair case takes you 157 feet above sea level.

Big Red

The Holland Harbor Lighthouse is an integral part of the history of Holland. A stormy history it is filled with disappointment countered by determination. Soon after the Dutch settlers came to the area in 1847, their leader, Dr. Albertus C. Van Raalte, wrote to the governor and the U.S. Congress requesting funds for the building of a harbor. Van Raalte knew from the beginning that if this new community were to flourish, access to Lake Michigan, to and from Black Lake, (now Lake Macatawa) was essential. However, the entrance to the lake from Lake Michigan was blocked with sandbars and silt.

Repeated requests for government help were made in the years that followed but to no avail. All the while, the Holland settlers made numerous attempts to establish a harbor. A permanent pier was built into Lake Michigan that was battered year after year by winter storms. Dredging was done both by hand and machine.

In 1860, citizens managed to cut a new channel-present location from Lake Macatawa to Lake Michigan. It was deep enough for barges to float from Lake Michigan into Lake Macatawa.

In 1866, harbor officials received word from Congress that they would receive an appropriation for work on the harbor.

In 1867, the Federal Government took over improvement of the harbor. Additional monies came in 1870, 1871 and 1872 but it was not until the turn of the century, fifty years after the effort was begun, that the harbor was substantially completed. It was too late for Holland to become an important commercial port, but not too late to help foster a thriving resort business. The Graham and Morton shipping lines made two trips daily from Chicago bringing eager vacationers to the lakeshore.

In 1893, a Life Saving Station opened on Lake Michigan. Ten years later it was replaced by a U.S. Coast Guard Station.

The first lighthouse was erected with $4,000 of federal funds in 1870, twenty years before the harbor was complete. It was a small, square, wooden structure that stood on an open platform on legs above the deck of the pier. On top was a lantern deck with a ten-window lantern room.

The lighthouse keeper had to carry his lighted oil lamp along a catwalk, which stretched from the shore where he lived to the lamp under a lens or magnifying device. When fog obscured the light, he signaled incoming boats by blowing an 18 inch fish horn often used on sailboats.

Steel Tower-Early 20th Century Improvement

Both the pier and the wooden lighthouse had taken a beating from the weather over the years. So after the turn of the century, when the harbor was finally finished, a breakwater was built.

The steel tower was an obvious improvement from the wooden structure. Not only could it better withstand severe weather, it could be spotted by incoming vessels as far away as thirteen miles.

When fog lay on the lake, as it so often did, a light signal was useless. It was obvious that a fog signal, stronger than a fish horn, must be incorporated. In 1907, a steam operated fog signal was installed. Two coal fed Marine boilers produced steam to sound the locomotive whistle used as a fog signal. The 1907 building was built as a fog signal building only. It had no light (the light stood adjacent to it as a separate sructure unitil 1936 when the Coast Guard consolidated the two structures by putting a light tower on top of the fog signal).

To house the signal, the 12th Lighthouse District, which had federal jurisdiction over the lighthouse, designed and constructed a separate building, the basis of today's lighthouse. This structure, unlike its two predecessors, was not placed on legs, thereby affording greater stability. The wood upper level is Queen Anne Victorian in style. The steeply sloped roof gables and Palladian window motif that are still still intact evidence this. The original roofing material was probably cedar shakes.

Originally, both the steel tower and the fog signal building were painted pale yellow with a deep maroon base. In 1956, however, the Coast Guard sandblasted the tower and painted it bright red to satisfy a requirement for the aids to navigation that a structure or light on the right side of any harbor entrance must be red.

This final phase of lighthouse development brings us to the structure as we know it today. In 1934 the light was electrified. In 1936, plans were made to abandon the steam driven fog signal, now nearly 30 years old, and install air powered horns using electricity as a power source for air compressors. Electrification also marked the end of the era of lighthouse keepers that had spanned 68 years.

Lighthouse Keepers

The first lighthouse keeper was Melgert van Regenmorter, appointed to service in 1870 at an annual salary of $540. He served until April, 1908, just prior to the steam fog signal going into operation. It is said that he wanted no part of the new technology.

Between the years of 1908 and 1912, three different keepers shared time tending the light, Charles Bavry, George J. Cornell and Edward Mallette. Their relatively short terms of duty indicate that it took a special type of individual to withstand the constant pressure of maintaining the signal.

The last active lighthouse keeper was Joseph M. Boshka who came to Holland in 1912, after serving 15 years in the Lighthouse Service. Joseph Boshka, known as "Cap", served until 1940. He retired to reside in Macatawa one year after the federal Lighthouse Bureau was abolished and the Coast Guard took over responsibility for aids to navigation. In addition to tending the light and signal, the keeper and his assistants also stood watch. This was especially important during the use of the steam powered foghorn since it took about 45 minutes of firing up the furnace to build up enough pressure for operation. Watch was generally broken down into six-hour shifts. All work activities and times of operation were recorded in the watch log.

In 1934, when the lighthouse was wired for electricity, electric air compressors for the horn were installed. The light turned on automatically at the right time and the fog horn was activated by remote control leaving the lighthouse keeper basically without a job.

Lighthouse Commission

In 1971 the lighthouse was declared to be surplus since the Coast Guard could not justify the expense of repair and maintenance of this structure that no longer housed the electrically operated light and fog horn. Private citizens started a petition and letter writing campaign to save the lighthouse. In 1974 the Holland Harbor Lighthouse Historical Commission was formally organized to coordinate the effort, even crafting the name of "Big Red" to personify the lighthouse and generate awareness to save it.

In 1978 the Coast Guard transferred ownership to the commission and, with it, the responsibility for the preservation of the lighthouse. Repairs and maintenance of the lighthouse are paid for out of endowment funds raised by the commission.

Twice a year, the Coast Guard inspects the facility and maintains the light. A new $6,000 light that can be seen for 20 miles has been installed. The use of a fog signal had been discontinued. The original Fresnel lens is on display in the Holland Museum.

Over the years, "Big Red" has taken on a life of its own, popular with painters, photographers, beach-goers, and boaters. There's nothing more relaxing than sitting in the shade of a tree, and watch the river empty into Lake Michigan, while the red sentinel stands guard on the opposite shore.

  • 2398 Ottawa Beach Rd

Don't miss Michigan's most photographed lighthouse, and Holland favorite, "Big Red." For a great view of Big Red, visit Holland State Park, and walk along the boardwalk to the north pier (wheelchair accessible). You can also view Big Red from Mt. Pisgah, where the dune stair case takes you 157 feet…

Lighthouse accessible by ferry.

The only points in my district not named for survey and examination, upon which I would report favorably for light-houses, are two: the most necessary of the two is the southern extremity of the island in lake Michigan, known as the Big Beaver. It lies in the direct route of vessels passing from the straits of Michilimackinac to Green bay, and other parts of the northwestern section of Lake Michigan. The loss of property from shipwrecks on the Beaver island has been considerable this season alone, and in value to exceed the cost of building many light-houses and maintaining them. The steamboat De Witt Clinton, in the month of September last, with a full and valuable cargo, struck in the night on a shoal near the Big Beaver, and was obliged to throw overboard nearly $20,000 worth of her lading, including the fixtures for the lantern of the light at Milwaukee, before she could be got off. The disaster to this vessel is ample testimony of the necessity of a light for that point.
Inside the corridor that links the dwelling to the tower is a display on the history of the lighthouses and a display cabinet containing a fourth-order Fresnel lens. According to a sign near the lens, the lens was reportedly used for fifty years at the William Livingston Lighthouse on Belle Isle near Detroit. The lens now at Beaver Island Lighthouse was purchased from the Coast Guard by Francis Stebbins, who displayed it at Old Presque Isle Lighthouse, which he had acquired years earlier. James Stebbins, son of Francis Stebbins, donated the lens to Charlevoix Public Schools for display at Beaver Island Lighthouse.

IMAGES

  1. The Top Haunted Lighthouses in Michigan

    how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

  2. The Top Haunted Lighthouses in Michigan

    how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

  3. Michigan's Haunted Lighthouses

    how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

  4. Haunted Michigan: The Point Aux Barques Lighthouse story

    how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

  5. Michigan's Haunted Lighthouses

    how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

  6. 11 Haunted Lighthouses of the Great Lakes Region, from Michigan to New York

    how many haunted lighthouses are in michigan

VIDEO

  1. New England's Haunted Lighthouses Documentary VHS 1997

  2. incredible Responses at this 👏 haunted 👻 Northern Michigan lighthouse #shorts

  3. Incredible Michigan Lighthouses

  4. Michigan's scariest Haunted House, The Haunting 2011

COMMENTS

  1. The Top Haunted Lighthouses in Michigan

    At one point in Michigan history, we had over 200 working lighthouses on our lakes. Humans might not have a hand in guiding the ships along the lakes nowadays, but the ghosts of past lighthouse keepers are still doing their jobs - even if they are dead.

  2. 3 of Michigan's most haunted lighthouses

    Author and historian Dianna Higgs Stampfler has brought many of those stories to light in her books "Haunted Great Lakes Lighthouses" (2019) and "Death & Lighthouses of the Great Lakes: A...

  3. Haunted Michigan Lighthouses: 13 Spooky Sites

    For more reading on haunted lighthouses in Michigan and beyond, check out Haunted Lighthouses: Phantom Keepers, Ghostly Shipwrecks, And Sinister Calls From the Deep by Ray Jones, the Haunted Michigan series by Gerald S. Hunter, Weird Michigan by Linda S. Godfrey, and Spirits at Seul Choix Pointe: True Lighthouse Stories by Marilyn S. Fischer.

  4. 13 Haunted Lighthouses of Michigan

    Legend has it that five ghosts haunt Fort Gratiot Lighthouse and grounds. Three of them are former lighthouse keepers, their names and stories forever etched into the annals of time. The other two are children—a girl named Sarah and a 13-year-old boy named Josh—each of their demise remains unknown.

  5. Meet The Keepers Who Remain Within Michigan's Haunted Lighthouses

    With more lighthouses than any other state, some of Michigan's nearly 120 lights remain home to the restless souls of their former keepers. Guest blogger Dianna Stampfler gives the story behind a few keepers of Michigan's haunted lighthouses. White River Lighthouse | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan

  6. 34 HAUNTED Places In Michigan + MAP! Tours, Lighthouses

    2. Calumet Theater-One of the Truly Most Haunted Places in Michigan. Join a tour of the Calumet Theater in Michigan's UP. Calumet Theater- 340 Sixth Street, Calumet, Michigan. Stories that the Calumet Theater is haunted go back more the 50 years so it definitely makes our "Haunted Places In Michigan" list. WOW!

  7. Exploring the haunted lighthouses of Michigan

    Evidence of Michigan's haunted lighthouses includes: photos, recorded EVP ghost voices, icy cold spots, footsteps, smell of tobacco burning, laughter, hearing voices, seeing apparitions, beacon lights being seen even though there was no electricity to power it, and more.

  8. Spooky happenings inside Michigan's haunted lighthouses ...

    In her new book "Michigan's Haunted Lighthouses" (The History Press, 2019), author Dianna Higgs Stampfler weaves together the factual histories and reported ghost stories of 13 supposedly...

  9. Michigan's haunted lighthouses the focus of a new book

    The book, part of the "Haunted America" series published by The History Press, focuses on 13 lighthouses in Michigan, while more than 30 are rumored to be haunted. Here are some of the most...

  10. Lighthouse hauntings: About 30 of Michigan's beacons are said to have

    Of the more than 125 lighthouses along its Great Lakes shoreline, about 30 are rumored to be haunted, says Stampfler, who has been collecting tales since the late 1990s. She chose to highlight...

  11. Michigan's Most Haunted Lighthouse: Big Bay Point, in the U.P.

    Get our free mobile app. Of the 26 possible lighthouse hauntings, the one that seems to be Michigan's Most Haunted is the Big Bay Lighthouse 25 miles northwest of Marquette. The lighthouse, which opened in 1896, is also a Bed & Breakfast, so it's easy to go and find out for yourself if these supernatural tales are true.

  12. Haunting tales of Michigan's lighthouses

    The Michigan lighthouse with the most ghostly activity is Waugoshance on the Straits of Mackinac off the northern Lower Peninsula, Stampfler said. It is said to have been haunted for more than 100 years. Even the most haunted lighthouses fail to scare her. "People expect it to be like, 'oh this ghost scratched me!'".

  13. Haunting tales of Michigan's lighthouses rooted in historic events

    The Michigan lighthouse with the most ghostly activity is Waugoshance on the Straits of Mackinac off the northern Lower Peninsula, Stampfler said. It's said to have been haunted for more than 100 years. Even the most haunted of lighthouses fail to scare her. "People expect it to be like, 'oh, this ghost scratched me!'

  14. The Most Haunted Lighthouses of the Great Lakes Region

    1 of 1 2 OF 11 Whitefish Point Lighthouse WHERE: Paradise, Michigan (Lake Superior) Located on the very end of Whitefish Point, all ships entering and leaving Lake Superior have to pass by...

  15. ULTIMATE Michigan Lighthouses Guide with MAP

    With over 115 lighthouses, Michigan is home to more lighthouses than any other state, and they're all found on the fresh water of the Great Lakes coast. This Michigan Travel Guide will walk you through all the best lighthouses in Michigan from the southernmost Lake Michigan coasts to Mackinaw City and beyond into the Upper Peninsula.

  16. Michigan Lighthouses

    Michigan lighthouses, lighthouses in Michigan, map of Michigan lighthouses, list of Michigan lighthouses ... Haunted: Destroyed: Active lens: Hover over or press icons for meaning. Light List. Map. Alpena Alpena, MI Au Sable Pierhead Oscoda, MI Au Sable Point Grand Marais, MI. Beaver Island Beaver Island, MI Beaver Island Harbor (St. James)

  17. Michigan's Haunted Lighthouse

    Throughout history, it has been established that over two dozen ships have wrecked in the waters just below where the lighthouse stands. Of those tragedies, an estimated five hundred individuals lost their lives.

  18. Haunted Trail in Michigan's Thumbcoast

    Haunted Trail - Michigan's Thumbcoast Posted on September 1st, 2023. ... It's no surprise that Michigan's oldest lighthouse, built in 1829 for the second time, has a few haunts. Join Detroit Rock City's investigation of the Fort Gratiot Light on Oct. 21, 2023, and see if they uncover any activity using lots of techniques and equipment

  19. MICHIGAN'S HAUNTED LIGHTHOUSES

    MICHIGAN'S HAUNTED LIGHTHOUSES; 2023-10-11T18:00:00-04:00; 2023-10-11T19:00:00-04:00; When Oct 11, 2023 from 06:00 PM to 07:00 PM (US/Eastern / UTC-400) Contact Name Jen Munoz; Contact Phone 269-695-3681; Add event to calendar iCal; What is it about lighthouses that attract ghostly spirits? Maybe it's simply a passion that will not go away.

  20. List of lighthouses in Michigan

    Coordinates: 45°51′57″N 84°42′55″W Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap This is a list of all lighthouses in the U.S. state of Michigan as identified by the United States Coast Guard. Michigan is home to lights on four of the Great Lakes, Lake St. Clair and connecting waterways.

  21. Lighthouses

    Trip Idea 2023 Lighthouses Map Michigan Lighthouse Guide Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy Lake Michigan Lighthouse Map & Circle Tour Lighthouses in Michigan Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state and all of them have a unique look and story, making it the perfect place for a summer lighthouse tour.

  22. History of the Big Red Lighthouse in Holland, Michigan

    Big Red Lighthouse. Holland's beloved and popular "Big Red" lighthouse, which stands proudly at the south side of the Holland Channel, has a long and rich history dating back to the first structure built on that site in 1870. Currently the lighthouse is owned and maintained by a non-profit lighthouse commission and is Michigan's most ...

  23. Beaver Island Lighthouse, Michigan at Lighthousefriends.com

    In January 1849, Kinsley Bingham, a U.S. Representative for Michigan's third district, submitted a "petition of citizens of the western lakes, praying for the erection of a light-house on Beaver island.". This time, Congress quickly responded, appropriating $5,000 for a lighthouse on September 28, 1850. In March 1851, John McReynolds of ...

  24. Tale of a haunted lighthouse: Seul Choix Point's spirits

    Work wasn't completed until 1895. As the legend has it, Capt. Joseph Willie Townsend is the lighthouse's paranormal keeper. According to Pure Michigan, the state's tourism promotion agency ...