Haunted Lighthouses in Michigan
Big Bay Point Lighthouse
Here on the north shore of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, William Prior, who became this station’s inaugural keeper in 1896, finally may have given up his duties. Surveying Lake Superior from atop a 60-foot bluff, the light station now operates as a romantic bed-and-breakfast with fireplaces and even spa services. William, dead these past 105 years, apparently still insisted on “helping”?until innkeeper Linda Gamble angrily told him off when his slamming of kitchen cabinet doors awakened her one night a few years ago. Neither William nor the other five resident ghosts have been heard from since. Well, so far, anyway; 906/345-9957 or bigbaylighthouse.com
Eagle Harbor Lighthouse
A Coast Guard lighthouse keeper in the 1970s reported many strange happenings at Eagle Harbor (no website; M-26, Eagle Harbor, Michigan 49950), including the sight of a faceless man in a plaid flannel shirt, the sounds of moving furniture and heavy footsteps on the second floor and lights turning on and off. Next to the lighthouse stand a white house and a brown house. The white house, according to the keeper, was equally haunted. Today, this Keweenaw Peninsula lighthouse, on the shores of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula, has been automated. The Keweenaw County Historical Society makes sure it is functioning and alerts the Coast Guard when any maintenance is required.
Old Presque Isle Lighthouse
One of the more documented (through television) is the old lighthouse at Presque Isle, Michigan.And strangely, it’s not only a lighthouse keeper. The light was operational for only 31 years before it was taken out of service and replaced by a different light. During its service however, legend has it that the wife of one of the keepers was kept locked up in the tower and went insane. Allegedly, she can be heard haunting the lighthouse on windy nights with her screams.
But it is the tale of George Parris that most are familiar with. The lighthouse was sold into private hands in the early 1900s, and was turned into a museum. George and his wife Lorraine moved into the keeper’s cottage in 1997, and served as caretakers and tour guides. George loved his duties, and especially enjoyed playing harmless pranks on visitors young and old. On January 2, 1992, George died of a heart attack. Lorraine really didn’t want to go back, but was talked into it by her kids. Shortly after arriving, Lorraine was driving back to the light station when she saw the light on. When she arrived, and went to check, it was off. The next morning, she went up and verified that the wires were disconnected, as the Coast Guard had required him to do years before. They were.
Lorraine didn’t say anything to anyone for fear of being considered nuts, but soon, others reported seeing the light. Sailors reported it had a yellowish cast to it, like an old fashioned kerosene lamp. Air National Guard pilots flying near the tower reported it. The Coast Guard came out and investigated, even removing the lamp, but still the light persisted. And that wasn’t all. One young girl, who’d never met George when he was alove, reported seeing a tall man with a beard and glasses at the top of the stairs. When shown a picture of George, she said it was him, only a “brighter white.” People climbing the tower have reported feeling a hand brush their shoulders. To this day, the light comes on at dusk and off at dawn. It’s classified by the Coast Guard as an unknown light.
Saginaw River Range Light
Located on the shores of Lake Huron in Bay City, Michigan. It is the only one left of the two range lights. The light has been privately owned by Dow Chemical Company since the 1980s. It is said that during the time the U.S. Coast Guard maintained the light, some people reported hearing footsteps within the building. The footsteps are rumored to belong to a keeper that died while on duty or that of his wife who worked as the keeper after his death.
Seul Choix Point Lighthouse
On Gulliver Lake, near the south side of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Seul Choix Point (no website; 672 N. West Gulliver Lake Road, Gulliver, Michigan 49840; 906-283-3183) is the location of many rumored ghostly happenings. Sights, sounds and scents of former lighthouse keepers still patrol the 78-foot tower. A lighthouse museum is open seasonally, from Memorial Day to mid-October.
Sturgeon Point Lighthouse
Originally having a small sixth order Fresnel lens in its lantern room, Sturgeon Point Lighthouse near Harrisville, Michigan, had a new, larger third and a half order lens installed in 1889. Perhaps whoever was the keeper at the time appreciated having the larger, brighter light, because now whoever it is that haunts this station keeps turning the lights on.
The keeper’s house, a lovely cape cod, is now a museum managed by the Alcona County Historical Society, and the volunteers have trouble keeping the lights turned off. They’ll leave at night, turn off the lights and return in the morning to find them brightly lit. Frederick Stonehouse, while doing research on the light for a book, claimed that one of the display case’s light kept turning back on after being turned off. Not once, but numerous times.
Thunder Bay Island Lighthouse
The third operating U.S. lighthouse in Lake Huron was built here in 1831. During the 1930’s and 1940’s, the lighthouse at Thunder Bay Island, east of Alpena, Michigan was reputedly haunted by the ghost of a former keeper named “Morgan”. It is believed that his spirits walks here because of his death many years ago. He died of loneliness in this desolate spot, a place so remote that the lighthouse was automated in 1980. The island is abandoned now…except for the ghost of “Morgan”, who still roams the island’s shoreline.
On Sturgeon Bay at the northeast edge Lake Michigan, Waugoshance (waugoshance.org) is one of Michigan’s oldest surviving lighthouses, and the legends surrounding its haunting have survived almost as persistently as the structure itself. The ghost of Waugoshance is said to be a prankster who kicks out the chairs of sleeping keepers from under them.
White River Light Station
Located on the shores of Lake Michigan in Whitehall, Michigan. One ghost here apparently likes to help with the dusting. Oh, that we all could be so haunted! This Great Lakes lighthouse was deactivated in 1960, though its lens remains in the museum that now inhabits the limestone tower and keeper’s quarters. Captain William Robinson, the light’s first keeper, served for 47 years and died in the building. Some think the mysterious pacing sounds heard upstairs indicate that he still tends his beloved lighthouse. Meanwhile, the museum curator reports that if she leaves a dust rag near a certain display case, she returns to find the rag moved and the case dusted. The supernatural suspect: William’s wife, Sarah. The museum is open June-October, and by appointment during the other months; 231/894-8265 or whiteriverlightstation.org.