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.

Michigan Central Station ghost

Michigan Central Station ghost

Michigan Central Station ghost, photo by Nicole Rork.

Happy Halloween, Michigan! Here’s a link to spooky tale about a real Detroit apparition, the Nain Rouge.

Nicole is freelance graphic designer / photographer. You can check out her portfolio at nicolerork.com.