The meagre lighthouse all in white, haunting the seaboard, as if it were the ghost of an edifice that had once had colour and rotundity, dripped melancholy tears after its late buffeting by the waves. – Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit
Today’s post explores the haunted lighthouses of Michigan, a state surrounded by five beautiful Great Lakes. These lakes are mysterious and unpredictable. According to mental_floss, fish in the Great Lakes can get up to over 200 pounds (no thanks). And, try to avoid taking your boat out during a storm on Lake Superior, which has been called “The Graveyard of the Great Lakes.” There has been an estimated 6,000 shipwrecks there, with 30,000 lives lost.
The lighthouse, though it serves as a beacon of hope for desperate ships, can be an isolated and dark place for those managing its operations. This isolation can trap people until they pass into the next world. Some lighthouse keepers continue to watch over the Great Lakes in the afterlife.
The question is: would you rather run into one of these spirits or a 200-pound fish?
Point aux Barques Lighthouse
Point Aux Barques Lighthouse was built in 1848 on Lake Huron (on the “thumb”). People have seen a 1930s woman in an apron (most likely a cleaning lady) in a second floor window. People have also reported cold spots and footsteps.
Old Presque Isle Lighthouse
Screams of a disembodied woman can be heard in this lighthouse. Stories say it could be from a past keeper’s wife. One legend says that when a keeper’s mistress came for visits, he would lock his wife in the tunnel so she couldn’t interrupt. He eventually killed her. Another legend says a keeper locked his wife away in the tower after he went insane.
There is also the ghost of George Parris. In the 1990s, he and his wife moved there to run the lighthouse as a museum. After George’s death, the lighthouse light began to go on at dusk and turn off at dawn, even though, the light was permanently disabled for quite some time. According to rumor, the coast guard removed the light altogether, but the light still shines.
Wikipedia shares some other notable encounters with Mr. Parris:
Other accounts of Mr. Parris include a young girl who was exploring the tower alone. When she returned, she had told her parents that she was talking to a “nice old man” in the tower’s lamp room. It was later found that nobody else had been in the tower at that time. The girl correctly identified the man as former keeper George Parris from a photo kept in the adjoining cottage/museum.
One day, Parris’ widowed wife was going out to run an errand during an intense lightning storm. She was about to leave the cottage, but she claimed that some unusual force was blocking the exit. Just then lightning struck directly outside the cottage. To this day, Mrs. Parris believes that it was the spirit of her deceased husband that kept her from certain electrocution.
Seul Choix Lighthouse
This lighthouse (established in 1892) sits on the choppy waters of Lake Michigan and has witnessed dozens of shipwrecks at its base. Its French name translates to “only choice,” coming from French traders who stumbled upon it when looking for refuge from a turbulent storm.
From 1902 until his death in 1910, Joseph Willie Townsend ran the lighthouse. He loved smoking cigars, but his wife forbade them. If you visit the lighthouse today, you might smell Townsend sneaking in a few puffs in the afterlife.
Years after Townsend’s death, some people went down to the basement and found pieces of a dining room table. They put it together, awakening some paranormal activity. People have reported its chairs moving and utensils being put in weird arrangements.
The Waugoshance Lighthouse is located on the northeast end of Lake Michigan and became an official lighthouse in 1851. Legend says that John Herman began his service as the keeper in 1892, and was notoriously a drunk and prankster. One night he decided to lock his assistant in the lamp room as a joke. When his assistant finally got out, John had vanished into the night. After his disappearance, strange things happened. Chairs were kicked out from under people. Chores were mysteriously completed. Supposedly, they built another lighthouse elsewhere, because John was scaring away staff at Waugoshance.
White River Light Station
On Lake Michigan (near Whitehall, MI) stands an old brick lighthouse built in 1875. The first keeper, Captain William Robinson served the lighthouse for 47 years until he died there. People believe the mysterious pacing sounds are him still overseeing the lighthouse’s operations. His deceased wife is believed to dust the place, since people have reported dust rags moving.