Haunted Lighthouses of the Great Lakes

 

Haunted Lighthouses of the Great Lakes

 

Ghost and lighthouses seem to be synonymous with each other and Michigan has the most lighthouses in any one 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 anymore, but the ghosts of past keepers are still doing their jobs, even if they are dead. Enjoy reading about some of Michigan’s well known haunted lighthouses and the stories behind them. We're pretty sure every light house in the world has a ghost...

If you have visited any haunted lighthouses around Michigan and have a story to share no matter how big or small, drop us an email.

Waugoshance - One of the oldest on the lakes.

According to maritime historian, Wes Oleszewski, the ghost story belonging to Waugoshance is always the first told by lighthouse enthusiasts and historians. Waugashance, located in the northeast end of Lake Michigan, 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 of Waugashance.

Drunk one night and looking to play a practical joke on some of the other lighthouse workers, John locked one of his assistants in the lamp room. Happy with his prank, John then wandered away from the lighthouse and in his drunken state, vanished into the night, never to be seen again. 
            After his disappearance, strange things started to happen around Waugoshance. If any of the lightkeeper’s fell asleep on the job, their chair would get kicked out from beneath them. Everyday chores, such as coal buckets being filled would also happen mysteriously. Because the haunted happenings were so frequent, they eventually had a hard time staffing the light anymore, so they built a house at White Shoals and left Waugoshance to the ghost who haunted it.

(Photo Credit: Waugoshance Lighthouse Preservation Society)

Exposing the Facts. Is the Haunting Real?

“Considering that so much of lighthouse history has been lost, sometimes all that we have is legend,” states, Wes Oleszewski from his book, Lighthouse Adventures. Waugoshance is one of the oldest lights on the lakes, and not many historical records exist. Based on his research, after Johns long tenure as the light keeper, the turn around rate of employees and keepers was about the same before John. Oleszewski points out the turn around for off shore lights, especially remote ones like Waugoshance is always high.

As for them building another lighthouse to avoid the ghosts? The lighthouse was in fact, out dated and a new one was needed. There doesn’t seem to be any historical evidence of John’s death at the light either. The only keeper to have ever drowned at the light was Thomas Marshall on May 28, 1886. 
Supposedly, the story itself came from a newspaper article published in Petoskey in the 1930’s sometime. 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 be heard sometimes.

Visiting Waugoshance Lighthouse (info from TerryPepper.com)

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 about Waugoshance with these helpful links!

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.


Point aux Barques

Point aux Barques was built in 1847 in a very, secluded place near the tip of the thumb along Lake Huron. Maritime 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 light.

Photo Credit: Point aux Barques Preservation Society. Early 1900's.)

The photo spooked him out seeing he had always considered himself of the “scientific” sort.

The Ghost of a Lady...

The ghost of a 1930’s cleaning lady has been seen by a few people over the years. Wes did research and went as far as the National Archives to try and find the existence of a lady who fit the description of the ghost who has been seen, but nothing turned up.

Point aux Barques is now a museum open for tours. To learn more about how to visit this historical lighthouse, visit the Point aux Barques Lighthouse Preservation Society website.

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.


Presque Isle

Isolation and loneliness are common themes in lighthouse ghost stories and this tale is the Michigan version of “The Shinning.” Presque Isle Station is near Alpena in the north eastern part of the state.The most famous tale of this light says the light keeper went insane from the isolation and shut his wife up in a tunnel on the property.

Another version says the light keeper 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 her.

No one knows if these stories are true, but over the years, the stories wrapped themselves around Presque Isle Station and are now an engrained part of the lighthouse and its lore.

Learn more about the history of the Presque Isle lightouse. Click here!

 


White River Light Station

Lighthouse keepers back in the day took their job very seriously. It was up to them to guide ships around dangerous waters and to steer them clear of land masses jutting out into the water. If a light keeper didn’t do his job, many lives could be lost.Could that be why you hear about so many lighthouses being haunted by their old keepers? Perhaps that’s why William Robinson, the first keeper of the White River Light Station still watches over the place.

The White River Light Station was built in 1876. William Robinson devoted 47 years of his life to the lighthouse 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. Another story 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. Depression kicked in and he died soon after and it would seem he got his wish to stay behind and continue to stay at the old lighthouse.

(The White River Light Station is featured on the cover of "Ghosts & Legends of Michigan's West Coast)

It seems the second floor of the White River Light Station is his stomping grounds in the afterlife and footsteps can be heard occasionally.

Karen McDonnell has been the curator of what is now the White River Light Station Museum for 23 years. A Muskegon Chronicle article about the lighthouse interviewed the modest Karen McDonnell. She doesn’t claim the lighthouse has any bona fide ghosts or extreme paranormal moments at 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.

 


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 them a dirty look when they asked for directions to the "sool choy" lighthouse.

This lighthouse, like every other lighthouse in the world, is rumored to be haunted by the old light keeper, Joseph William "Willy"Townshend. He was a sea captain and became the keeper of the light in 1901. In 1910, he died at the light in his bedroom and people claim they have spotted his ghost in mirrors, looking out windows and even in the woods nearby.