Haunted Michigan: Mishipeshu, the Water Panther

Note: While this is a tale of Michigan, it’s not a photo of Michigan, but rather Ontario!! That might be the scariest thing about today’s post – I hope that you all can deal with it! ;)

agawa pictographs lake superior provincial park ontario

agawa pictographs, lake superior provincial park, ontario, photo by twurdemann

Monstropedia says that the name Mishipeshu can be translated as Great Lynx and that this beastie was also known as “Gichi-anami’e-bizhiw” which means fabulous night panther.

The Cryptid Chronicles on Tumblr shares the tale of the Underwater Mystery Cat:

Native North Americans have a long tradition of stories regarding the Mishibizhiw, an underwater panther. Some tribes, particularly Anishinaabe, Odawa, Ojibwe, and Potawatomi, of the Great Lakes region of Canada consider this being as the most powerful underworld being. The Ojibwe held them to be the master of all water creatures. Some myths include this water lynx in their creation legends.

In the Ojibwe language, this creature is called “Mishibizhiw”, “Mishipizhiw”, “Mishipizheu”, “Mishupishu”, “Mishepishu”, “Michipeshu”, or “Mishibijiw”, which translates as “Great Lynx,” or Gichi-anami’e-bizhiw (“Gitche-anahmi-bezheu”), which translates as “the fabulous night panther.” Often, it is referred to as the “Great underground wildcat” or “Great under-water wildcat.” In Lake Superior Provincial Park on Ontario, there are pictographs of a mishibizhiw and two giant serpents. These creatures were described as water monsters that live in opposition to the Thunderbirds which are masters of the powers of the air.

With the body of a cat, usually like a lynx and the horns of a deer, it also sports scales on its back and sometimes even bird feathers. They typically are sporting long tails. Like many other creatures in native lore, it is said to be a shape shifter. It is said they roar or hiss like the sound of rushing water. Mishipizheu were said to live in the deepest lakes and rivers and can cause storms. Other traditions claim they can sometimes be helpful and protective, but generally they are viewed as bringing death or other misfortune. Traditionally, offerings are made to help with safe passage across the water.

“While skirting some rocks, which by their height and length inspire awe, we saw upon one of them two painted monsters which at first made us afraid, and upon which the boldest savages dare not long rest their eyes. They are as large as a calf: they have horns on their heads like those of a deer, a horrible look, red eyes, a beard like a tiger’s, a face somewhat like a man’s, a body covered with scales, and so long a tail that it winds all around the body, passing above the head and going back between the legs, ending in a fish’s tail.”
—French missionary Jacques Marquette, 1637

It was a widely held belief that copper came from the creature and charms were made to bring luck to hunters. After the hunt, these charms would be destroyed. Native Canadian preferred guns with brass plates depicting European dragons; they likely were interpreted to be images of Mishepishu. An Anishnaabe Ojibwa club from around 1800 has a Mishepishu figure on the end closest to the blade. In 2011, one of the Canadian Mint Mythical Creatures coins depicted a Mishepishu. The Canadian Museum of Civilization includes an underwater panther in its coat of arms. While often depicted in both ancient and modern art, modern sightings are virtually nonexistant.

Read on for more and you can also watch an episode of Grimm featuring the Mishipeshu right here!

Twurdemann writes that the Agawa Pictographs are at Agawa Rock, at the base of a 30 meter (100 foot) cliff and precarious ledge on the shore of Lake Superior. The site is sacred to the local Ojibwa and depict both historical events and legends. The paintings are believed to between 150-400 years old and were painted with a mixture of hematite (mineralized iron oxide) and animal fats. Check out the photo bigger, and see more in his Lake Superior slideshow.

More ghost & spooky stories on Michigan in Pictures.

PS: I’ve been to Agawa Rock, and if you ever get a chance to drive around all or part of Lake Superior, definitely stop here. These are some very cool pictographs!!!

Haunted Michigan: The Devil’s Grist

Just another pretty face

Just Another Pretty Face, photo by Gary Tucker

In the spring of 1712, the English sent a war party of Fox & Macoutin to try and take Fort Pontchartrain in Detroit from the French. Over 1000 were massacred by tribes loyal to the French near Windmill Point at the mouth of the Detroit River on Lake St. Clair, effectively destroying the Fox nation.

My new favorite book, Legends of Le Détroit by Marie Caroline Watson Hamlin with illustrations by Miss Isabella Stewart, details the episode. If I were you, I would click over to the book right now and read it there – it’s not nearly as long as Tuesday’s tale ;)

We’ll join the story…

Years after the dreadful massacre which converted the beautiful spot called Presque Isle into the grave of the Fox nation, a stone mill was built there by a French settler, who came to reside with his sister Josette, undaunted by the ourrent traditions which peopled it with the spirits of the departed warriors. Jean was a quiet, morose man, different from the laughing, careless, pleasure-loving Canadian, — for rare were his visits, to the fort, and it was noticed that he never lingered over his cidre, nor spoke to the smiling, piquante daughters of the habitants.

…Josette was much older than her brother, and by dint of thrift and economy had saved enough to become a half owner in the mill. … Naught disturbed the monotony of their lives ; each day was but a repetition. The river flowed calmly on, the birds sang their songs – for nature has no moods, they belong to man alone.

At last Josette fell sick. Jean attended her as carefully as he could, and like a prudent man, would frequently ask her to whom she would leave her interest in the mill. Irritable from suffering, she became annoyed at his importunities, accused him of taking care of her for the sake of obtaining her money, and told him ‘she would leave it to the devil.” Jean tried in his clumsy fashion, to soothe her. He sent for some of his kindred to reason with her, but they only infuriated her the more, and she solemnly declared that not one of them should have her share in the mill, but “she would sooner leave it to the devil.”

Josette recovered, however, and with that perversity born of stubbornness, would not relent. A few months afterwards she was found dead in her bed, having died suddenly. That same night, whilst the candles threw their dim shadowy light in the room of the dead, a furious storm arose, lashing the waves against the shore, the winds howling fiercely around the point, the black clouds chasing each other across the lowering skies, as lurid gleams of lightning and deafening reverberations of thunder, made all the habitants shudder while they crossed themselves and told their beads. All at once there came so tremendous a shock that it seemed to swallow the island. The old stone mill was rent in twain. A pungent smell of sulphur filled the air, and a fiendish, laugh was heard loud above the raging storm from the shattered ruins. The arch fiend had come to claim his share.

For years afterwards when a northeast storm blew from the lake, making night hideous by its echoing peals of thunder, it was said that a hairy figure, with a horned head and forked tail tipped with fire, his mouth and eyes darting forth ruddy flame, could be seen in the mill, trying to put together the ruined machinery to grind the devil’s grist. And the lonely wayfarer to Grosse Pointe would see the marshes around Presque Isle all illuminated by flames, called by the hab- itants feu-follet (Will-o’-the-Wisp), which would try to inveigle the unhappy traveler and bring him to help grind the devil’s grist.

View the photo background big and see more of Gary’s haunted photos at that link.

More ghost stories & haunted tales on Michigan in Pictures!

Haunted Michigan: The Ada Witch

The Ada Witch

The Ada Witch, photo by farlane

You were such good readers yesterday that I’ll give you a shorter tale today. It comes from Amberrose Hammond and Michigan’s OthersideThe Ada Witch of Findley Cemetery:

The Ada Witch has been a popular legend in West Michigan for decades. For years, people have claimed to have witnessed a paranormal classic: “the lady in white.” She’s been seen wandering around the area of Findley Cemeteryand surrounding roads. But who is this mysterious “lady in white”? Over the years, this entity was given the title of the “Ada Witch,” but it’s nothing more than a nickname. Within the legend, there is nothing to support that she was a practicing witch or anything of that nature. It’s just a dramatic name that makes a good tale….

The legend says a woman during the 1800’s had been cheating on her husband. She would sneak off into the night to meet her lover. Her husband began to suspect she was up to something and pretended to fall asleep one night. After his wife got up and snuck away, he followed her and found her in the arms of another man. Rage welled up inside him and in an instant, the husband attacked the adulterous couple, killing his wife first. The two men fought until they both died from the wounds they inflicted upon each other.

For many years now, people say they have heard the sounds of a fight taking place around the Findley area, only to find no one around. The area at one point must have been open for hunting before it was developed into a residential area. There have been reports from hunters feeling a presence in the area, hearing the ghostly fight, getting tapped on the shoulder only to find no one there and even seeing a ghostly woman in white.

Read on for Amberrose’s account of her visit to the Findley Cemetery and her research into the story.

I photoshopped this picture – it’s not real. View it bigger on Flickr.

More ghost & spooky stories on Michigan in Pictures!

Haunted Michigan: Le Loup Garou

Moon and Clouds by eyesontheskies

Moon and Clouds, photo by eyesontheskies

He was beloved by all, and most of all by the children.
For he told them tales of the Loup Garou in the forest.
And of the goblin thai came in the night to water the horses.
And of the White Letiche, the ghost of a child who unchristened
died, and was doomed to haunt unseen the chambers of children.
 ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline

My new favorite book is Legends of Le Détroit by Mary Carolyn Watson Hamlin, illustrated by Miss Isabella Stewart, and published in 1894 in Detroit by Thorndike Nourse. In addition to Ms. Hamlin’s descriptive prose that really sheds light on what life was like for early settlers in the Detroit area, it’s especially appropriate to kick off how I’m going to enjoy the week of Halloween, with stories that raise your hackles spark a feeling that Michigan is wilder and more wonderful than you may have known.

As the first of several spooky tales from Michigan, I offer Le Loup Garou which is a lot longer than usual. I’ve tried to share the highlights of the story, but you really should click that link to read it all! We begin at Grosse Pointe where:

…a trapper named Simonet had settled near there on the margin of the lake.

His young wife had faded away in the early years of their married life, but as if in compensation, had left the little prattler Archange to wean him from his grief and to cheer his loneliness. And the strong, hardy man, with his sunburnt face and brawny arms hardened by toil and exposure, in his yearning love for his child, learned to soften his rough manners and soothe her with the gentle ways of a woman. Anxiously he watched the unfolding of his “pretty flower,” as he called her, and with a solicitude touching in its simple pathos, he would select the softest skin of the bear to keep her feet warm, search for the brightest wings of the bird to adorn her hat. When she grew up he taught her to skin the beaver, muskrat and deer which he brought home, and to stretch them out on the drying frame near the house. He was wont to boast that no one could excel Archange preparing the poisson blanc (whitefish), poisson dore (pickerel), or give that peculiar shade of brown which is in itself an art, to the savory cochon au lait (sucking pig).

She was as light-hearted as the cricket that chirped on the hearth, and her cheery voice could be heard caroling away to the music of her spinning wheel. In the long winter evenings her deft fingers would plait the straw into hats which found a ready sale, and which, added to the sum she gained by her knitted socks and dried corn, enabled her to secure many little articles that her vanity suggested to enhance her charms. For the Canadian girl, in the rude surroundings of her forest home, was as anxious to please and be witch by her toilet as her more favored Parisian sister ; the instincts of the sex still lived in the wilderness. At the corn-huskings and dances on the greensward Archange was the reigning belle, and held her little court of homespun dressed youths fascinated by the magic of her dark eyes, her brunette complexion with its warm glow, her raven tresses and piquante tongue. Many admiring eyes followed her lithe form as she tripped in marvelous rapidity la jig a deux or as she changed into the more graceful, swaying motion of la dance ronde.

Enter the capable young farmer Pierre La Fontaine, whose marriage proposal was happily accepted by Simonet, was building a cabin for his bonnie bride, and apparently driving his fragile canoe along the rippling waters lit up by elfish moonbeams (Ms. Hamlin’s words) as they made wedding plans that included the gift of a red cow from Archange’s god-father. Well…

One evening as Pierre placed Archange on the beach near her home and she lingered, following him with her loving eyes as he swiftly rowed away until he had disappeared and only the faint echo of his Canadian boat song floated towards her, she was startled by a rustling sound near by. Looking up a wild shriek escaped her, for a monster with a wolf’s head and an enormous tail, walking erect as a human being, crossed her path. Quickly the cabin door was thrown open by Simonet, who had been roused by his daughter’s scream. Archange flew into her father’s arms and pointed to the spot where she had seen the monster, but the animal surprised by the light, had fled into the woods. Simonet’s face grew pale as Archange described, as accurately as her fears had allowed her to see, the apparition, and he recognized the dreaded Loup Garou.

Did I mention long?

Simonet worried about the Loup Garou (werewolf), but soon the wedding day arrived:

…Soon after she (Archange) joined Pierre and hand in hand, followed by all the habitants in their holiday attire, they entered the little church of logs hewn square, the interstices chinked in with clay, the roof of overlapping strips of bark. In front of the altar, decorated with flowers arranged by loving hands, they knelt. Father Freshet, who had baptized Pierre and Archange and prepared them for their first communion, now came to unite them in the holy bonds of matrimony. After the ceremony they went to the sacristy and inscribed their names in the registry, then hurried off to Pierre’ s new house, where the festivities were to take place. On the green lawn in front of her new cabin the blushing Archange greeted all her friends. The Seigneur of the neighborhood came to claim the right of premier baiser (first kiss). The refreshments were in abundance and all gave themselves up to the enjoyment of the moment, for the Canadians dearly loved a wedding and kept up its festivities for days.

Whilst the merry making was at its height the dreaded Garou with a rush like the wind sprang into their midst, seized Archange and escaped with her into the forest. All were paralyzed by the sudden, daring deed. But Pierre recovering, started in quick pursuit guided by the despairing cry of Archange, followed by all the men, whilst the women and children said their prayers and gave vent to loud lamentations. Long after the shadows had fallen they returned to report to the anxious, trembling crowd, and their sad, dejected faces spoke of the fruitlessness of their search. The monster had baffled them. But Pierre returned not. He was shortly after found by his friends wandering around and around a swamp, and clutching a piece of white batiste. When questioned as to how he had obtained this clue to Archange, he returned a maniacal stare and with a blood-curdling shriek, would have juimped into the swamp if he had not been held back by his companions, who with sorrowful accents said “La folie du bois.”* He would always return to the same swamp, remaining there for hours gazing vacantly in the weird reflections of its slimy, stagnant waters, until some friend led him home.

At the marriage of his sister, which occurred about a year afterwards, Pierre, always dead to the outside world, seemed to be roused by the preparations. After the ceremony he rushed into the woods as if in pursuit of something. He did not return until nearly sunset when he was seen, with wild eyes, flying hair, his clothes torn as if lay briers, chasing a Loup Garou to the very edge of the lake. All stood petrified by the strange apparition and feared a repetition of Archange’s fate. But the animal, seeing no escape, stood on one of the boulders strewn along the shore and stretched out his arms as if beckoning to some mysterious one. A large catfish was seen to rise on the surface of the water and open its mouth, into which the Loup Garou vanished. To this day no Canadian will eat catfish. The footprint of the wolf is still shown at Grosse Pointe, indelibly impressed on one of the boulders.

As I said, read the story in full and if anyone has a shot of the footprint in the boulder, please send it to me!!

View eyesontheskies photo bigger an see more in his Astro slideshow.

More ghost & spooky stories on Michigan in Pictures!

*La folie du bois (the folly of the woods) alludes to the well- known insane tendency which prompts those lost in the woods to go round in a continuous circle, instead of following a direct path which would lead to a clearing.

The Indian Drum


Petoskey Breakwall, photo by Julie A. Christiansen

Earlier this week I posted about The Crooked Tree. While August isn’t yet shipwreck season in Michigan, the post reminded me of the 1915 novel by William MacHarg & Edwin Balmer set in the same region called The Indian Drum. The whole book is available online at Project Gutenberg (hooray for free books!). It begins:

Near the northern end of Lake Michigan, where the bluff-bowed ore-carriers and the big, low-lying, wheat-laden steel freighters from Lake Superior push out from the Straits of Mackinac and dispute the right of way, in the island divided channel, with the white-and-gold, electric lighted, wireless equipped passenger steamers bound for Detroit and Buffalo, there is a copse of pine and hemlock back from the shingly beach. From this copse—dark, blue, primeval, silent at most times as when the Great Manitou ruled his inland waters—there comes at time of storm a sound like the booming of an old Indian drum. This drum beat, so the tradition says, whenever the lake took a life; and, as a sign perhaps that it is still the Manitou who rules the waters in spite of all the commerce of the cities, the drum still beats its roll for every ship lost on the lake, one beat for every life.

So—men say—they heard and counted the beatings of the drum to thirty-five upon the hour when, as afterward they learned, the great steel steamer Wenota sank with twenty-four of its crew and eleven passengers; so—men say—they heard the requiem of the five who went down with the schooner Grant; and of the seventeen lost with the Susan Hart; and so of a score of ships more. Once only, it is told, has the drum counted wrong.

At the height of the great storm of December, 1895, the drum beat the roll of a sinking ship. One, two, three—the hearers counted the drum beats, time and again, in their intermitted booming, to twenty-four. They waited, therefore, for report of a ship lost with twenty-four lives; no such news came. The new steel freighter Miwaka, on her maiden trip during the storm with twenty-five—not twenty-four—aboard never made her port; no news was ever heard from her; no wreckage ever was found. On this account, throughout the families whose fathers, brothers, and sons were the officers and crew of the Miwaka, there stirred for a time a desperate belief that one of the men on the Miwaka was saved; that somewhere, somehow, he was alive and might return. The day of the destruction of the Miwaka was fixed as December fifth by the time at which she passed the government lookout at the Straits; the hour was fixed as five o’clock in the morning only by the sounding of the drum.

The region, filled with Indian legend and with memories of wrecks, encourages such beliefs as this. To northward and to westward a half dozen warning lights—Ile-aux-Galets (“Skilligalee” the lake men call it), Waugaushance, Beaver, and Fox Islands—gleam spectrally where the bone-white shingle outcrops above the water, or blur ghostlike in the haze; on the dark knolls topping the glistening sand bluffs to northward, Chippewas and Ottawas, a century and a half ago, quarreled over the prisoners after the massacre at Fort Mackinac; to southward, where other hills frown down upon Little Traverse Bay, the black-robed priests in their chapel chant the same masses their predecessors chanted to the Indians of that time. So, whatever may be the origin of that drum, its meaning is not questioned by the forlorn descendants of those Indians, who now make beadwork and sweet-grass baskets for their summer trade, or by the more credulous of the white fishermen and farmers; men whose word on any other subject would receive unquestioning credence will tell you they have heard the drum.

Read on at Project Gutenberg.

Julie took this shot back in November of 2013. You can view it bigger, see more in her This & That slideshow and also check out this video from the day.

More Michigan shipwreck lore on Michigan in Pictures.

The Ghost Keeper of Old Presque Isle Lighthouse

Old Presque Isle Lighthouse, photo courtesy Archives of Michigan

The Lightkeeper’s Ghost tells the tale of George and Loraine Parris who became the beloved caretakers of the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse, running the small museum and giving tours. George was something of a trickster and delighted in playing harmless tricks on visitors. He passed away in 1992, but the story doesn’t end there.

As Loraine was driving to the property on Grand Lake Road, which had a clear view of the lighthouse, she saw that it was illuminated.

She knew that the Coast Guard had rendered this impossible, but there it was before her. By the time that she arrived at the keeper’s house, though, everything was dark. The next day she climbed the steps of the lighthouse to make sure that everything was in order, and she saw that there was no way that someone could have turned the light on. Yet, this same pattern repeated itself again and again. Loraine never said anything about it because she thought that people might think her crazy.

Soon other folks began to see the light, however – a yellowish glow was reported from the lighthouse by several people. Some thought that the light had been put back into operation, but others drove out for a closer look, only to find that it was dark once again.

It was even spotted by members of the Air National Guard, who flew a few missions over the area, and by the Coast Guard, who investigated to make sure that no one could fire the light back up. It had been permanently disabled years before, so there was no way that the light could be shining. Yet it was. Many people believe that the spirit of playful old George is occasionally paying a visit to the lighthouse that he loved so much, just to let folks know that he’s doing just fine and to keep alive the stories of the lighthouse that he loved so much.

Read more about the history of the lighthouse from TexasEscapes.com and learn more about the light and visiting from the Presque Isle Township Museum Society.

This photo from Seeking Michigan and the Archives of Michigan was taken in 1963 at Old Presque Isle Light. See it bigger and check out more of their photos of the old and new lighthouses on Presque Isle.

More ghosts and ghost stories on Michigan in Pictures.

Michigan’s Most Haunted: Detroit Masonic Temple

NOTE: Upon further research, it appears that George Mason did not leap to death from the roof of the Masonic, but instead died in bed at the age of 92 in 1948. In my defense, the story of Mason’s suicide has been reported by a number of news outlets!!

The Masonic Temple

The Masonic Temple, photo by kc Jacoby Photography

Halloween is fast approaching and the Awesome Mitten has a great post on the Ten Most Haunted Places in Michigan. We’ve visited a few of those places on Michigan in Pictures, but #4 on the list, The Masonic Temple in Detroit, was spooky, cool and new:

Built in 1912 by a wealthy gentleman named George D. Mason, the Detroit Masonic Temple has over 1,000 rooms, and several secret staircases, concealed passages, and hidden compartments in the floors. Mr. Mason went slightly overboard when financing the construction of the building, and eventually went bankrupt, whereupon his wife left him. Overwhelmingly depressed about his financial and personal circumstances, Mason jumped to his death from the roof of the temple. Security guards claim to see his ghost to this day, ascending the steps to the roof. The temple, abundant with cold spots, inexplicable shadows, and slamming doors, is known to intimidate visitors with the eerie feeling of being watched…

Read on for more and share any thoughts you have on these or other haunted Michigan places in the comments below!

The Detroit Masonic Temple is the largest masonic temple in the world, and you can get all kinds of pictures and history including some shots from construction on their website. The theater has its own site as well for events and this weekend they are going Beyond the Other Side.  One note about George Mason is that in addition to the masonic temple, he also designed several other Michigan buildings including the Detroit Yacht Club and the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. See Historic Detroit for more.

While it may feel like the Ken Jacoby show with 2 appearances in just a week, his shot was the most brooding of the many interior and exterior photos of the temple in the Absolute Michigan pool. Check it out on black and see more in Ken’s The Masonic Temple slideshow.

More ghostly fun on Michigan in Pictures and also at absolutemichigan.com/ghost!

The Red Dwarf of Detroit and Other Ghostly Tales

2011 March Du Nain Rouge, Detroit, MI

2011 March Du Nain Rouge, Detroit, MI, photo by vanessamiller.

The last Wednesday of every month is a Weird Wednesday on Absolute Michigan, a time for stories of the spooky and strange. Definitely click that link to get your Halloween on, Michigan style, with stories from the Rowdy Ghosts of the Fenton Hotel to The Ghost of Minnie Quay.

Today’s tale is one of our favorites, the story of the Imp of Detroit, the Nain Rouge who some say has plagued the city since its founding over 300 years ago. It begins:

Among all the impish offspring of the Stone God, wizards and witches, that made Detroit feared by the early settlers, none were more dreaded than the Nain Rouge (Red Dwarf), or Demon of the Strait, for it appeared only when there was to be trouble. In that it delighted. It was a shambling, red-faced creature, with a cold, glittering eye and teeth protruding from a grinning mouth. Cadillac, founder of Detroit, having struck at it, presently lost his seigniory and his fortunes. It was seen scampering along the shore on the night before the attack on Bloody Run, when the brook that afterward bore this name turned red with the blood of soldiers. People saw it in the smoky streets when the city was burned in 1805, and on the morning of Hull’s surrender it was found grinning in the fog. It rubbed its bony knuckles expectantly when David Fisher paddled across the strait to see his love, Soulange Gaudet, in the only boat he could find, a wheel-barrow…

Read on for more, including more recent tales like the 1976 sighting by two employees of Detroit Edison of a small “child” climbing a utility pole on March 1st who then leaped from the top of the twenty-foot pole and scurried away. The next day Detroit was buried in one of the worst ice/snowstorms in its history.

Every March, the people of Detroit conduct the Marche Du Nain Rouge, a celebration to drive the Red Dwarf from the city. Vanessa got this shot there – see it bigger and in her 2011 March du nain rouge slideshow.

The Ghost of Minnie Quay

Sticks and Stones by Jeff Gaydash

Sticks and Stones, photo by Jeff Gaydash.

November is Shipwreck month on Absolute Michigan, and today we have one of the best Weird Michigan features ever, The Ghost of Minnie Quay, which tells a haunting tale of love and loss from Forester, Michigan.

The last Wednesday of every month is a “Weird Wednesday” on Absolute Michigan, when Linda Godfrey gives you a sample of what’s weird in the Wolverine State. You can listen to Linda’s latest podcasts and report your own strange encounters at weirdmichigan.com, follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/lindasgodfrey and also check out her books including Weird Michigan & Strange Michigan.

Jeff took this shot of the remains of the Forester Pier last March in Lake Huron. Check it out bigger in his Great Lakes slideshow.

Safe travels and fair winds!

The Haunting of Seul Choix Point Lighthouse

Seul Choix Point Lighthouse; Schoolcraft County

Seul Choix Point Lighthouse; Schoolcraft County, photo courtesy Archives of Michigan

Dave Wobster has an excellent article on Seul Choix at boatnerd.com that begins:

Hundreds of years ago, moving the across this region was a different story. Native Americans and French explorers were traveling in canoes and later small ‘Mackinac’ boats. It was readily apparent that along the 75 mile stretch, from the Straits of Mackinac to today’s Manistique, there was only one place to seek refuge from the storms that often sweep up Lake Michigan. Realizing that the bay near the present day Port Inland was their only choice, the French named the place Seul Choix, the French name for ‘Only Choice’. The French pronunciation is “Sel-Shwa”, while locally the name is spoken as “Sis-Shwa”.

He goes on to document the history, touching upon a ghost story that is fleshed out in The Keeper of Seul Choix Point by Ken Rudine:

Joseph Willie Townsend was the keeper there from 1902 to 1910 when he died in that upstairs bedroom. His body was drained and prepared for his wake which was held in the basement. He lay in state in the parlor until his relatives could assemble from other locations. He was buried nearby in a cedar coffin. Joseph was a cigar smoker in life, but his wife refused to let him smoke in the house. Now cigar smoke is often smelled in the house, as if Townsend now enjoys what his wife forbade.

The article tells other tales about the haunting, and you can get more information about this lighthouse (including an aerial view that shows the setting) at the Seul Choix Point Light web site. Beware! The site is “haunted” as well – by a song you cannot shut off … mu-hu-hahaha! There are a couple of children’s books based on these stories (well, probably minus the embalming part) called The Captain & Harry by Jan Langley.

You can also see more historical photos of Seul Choix Point Lighthouse at the Archives of Michigan and view modern-day photos of Seul Choix Light on Flickr (slideshow). Since I’m not sure that anything I linked to has good directions to the lighthouse (which is located near the ghost town of Fayette about 10 miles east of Manistique), here’s the Seul Choix page from Exploring the North.