Thirteen Reasons to Run Away to Hell (Michigan, That Is!)

Hell is a place in Pure Michigan, not a swear word. So, there is no need to refer to Hell as H-E double hockey sticks. And since there is a real dam in Hell, you are not committing any sins by taking your photo in front of the falling water. Today, Barbara Braden from Livingston County Convention & Visitors Bureau shares 13 reasons to run away to Hell…Michigan, that is.  

Greetings From Hell1) Check the weather
There is an official US weather observation station here. Is it hotter than Hell, is it colder than Hell? Has Hell frozen over? More print and broadcast meteorologists have written and talked about Hell on severe weather days than any other town in Michigan and beyond. Tony Perkins (the then weather-man for Good Morning America) went to Hell and back to give his weather report. Check the guest book to see the numerous other celebrities that visited.

2) Indulge in the Crematory
Take the Grave Digger ice cream challenge at the cream-a-tory. Many brave souls have tried to finish the tempting pound of ice cream served in a miniature coffin. Oddly, winners of this challenge get a death certificate and join the ranks of the few that have lived to tell the story. To avoid the ice cream headache from Hell, try the make your own sundaes. Dip scary-named toppings like butter-snot, ectoplasm, and scare-a-mel out of an authentic coffin. 

"The Grave Digger" - Photo courtesy of Livingston County CVB

“The Grave Digger” – Photo courtesy of Livingston County CVB

3) Get Elected
Someone once said, Politicians in Hell… well it’s a good start. You can join the unofficial politicians from Hates by opting to be Mayor of Hell for a day. “His (or Her) Honor the Mayor” takes on a whole new meaning when your constituents (or is it minions) are from Hell. Politics aside, if you are the Mayor of Hell, you don’t have to keep any campaign promises.

4) Matriculate
Tired of boring scholarly types bragging about their prestigious degrees? Join the many proud alumni from Damnation University and you can laude your own credentials. You will definitely set yourself apart from the masses when you arrive in your Dam U collegiate sweatshirt. And when they raise their learned eyebrows, you can say… the devil made me do it.

5) Play Miniature Golf
Do you have friends that are continually using their “foot wedge” or claim to have an endless supply of mulligans? Well Hell is the place for those that think the rules don’t apply to them. The whimsical characters along the aptly named holes are sure to prompt a few chuckles.

6) Reach out to Friends or Enemies
Send a scorched postcard card from official US Post Office to an arch enemy and write… “Wish you were here”. Why not mail a gift to a loved one and say you went thru Hell to get it for them. Each April 15th, hundreds of procrastinators descend upon the tiny town to mail their tax returns from Hell. Can you say… audit? All mail from Hell is scorched with real fire because it’s hot down there.

Cookies From Hell

Photo courtesy of Livingston Country CVB

7) Canoe & Kayak
Explore the chain of lakes where your trip can be as short as 2 hours or as long as a full day. Sightings of Blue Herons, turtles basking in the sun, beaver, deer, eagles, and other native wild life are common as you glide alongside serene vistas. There is no need to bring your own canoe or kayak, rentals are available.

8) Dine in Hell’s Kitchen
If you are expecting HOT cuisine you won’t be disappointed by the hottest wings in Hell. Hell’s ovens bake sinfully delicious bread daily and pride themselves in locally sourced ingredients from farmers markets. Take home Smitty’s Hot Sauce from Hell to rekindle memories of your decadent dining.

9) Invest in Real Estate
Yes “Hell’s-Half-Acre” is for sale, by the square inch. You can purchase the official dirt from Hell in a small bottle that comes with a certificate of ownership. It makes a great gift, if you want to give someone a little Hell.

Photo courtesy of Livingston County CVB

Photo courtesy of Livingston County CVB

10) Get Married
On a cold day in Hell… many couples have “tied the knot” in the Wedding Chapel. Hell’s Facebook page has a gallery of wedding photos featuring the festive nuptials. Mayor Odum Plenty will perform the nuptials and even help with the arrangements. Like the Mayor says, a marriage made in Hell has nowhere to go but up.

11) Photo Opportunities
Who wouldn’t want a true “selfie” from Hell? Or there are always the commemorative departure photos under the Welcome to Hell sign. Even Flat Stanley posed with a friend in Hell. Photo buffs that like light-hearted shots will enjoy the cartoon style cut-outs that frame your face.

Hell Froze Over_00112) It’s a Punster’s Paradise
Weather it is puns or a play on words that you enjoy, Hell is an irreverent inspiration no matter where you turn. And no-one enjoys hearing your “spin” on Hell more that the friendly hellions that work there.

13) You meet the nicest people in Hell
It seems counter intuitive that you would meet nice people in Hell, doesn’t it? But it is true. I love to share the many photos of Hell’s guests because they all look like they are having a wonderful time. I have met people from all over the globe in Hell, and I hope someday I will “See YOU in Hell”.

Barb BardenBarbara Barden is the executive director of the Livingston County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Livingston County is home to Hell Michigan, which means Barden gets paid to tell people to “Go to Hell”. But she always is quick to add… she means it in the nicest way. Barden is a graduate of Damnation University and holds a Master’s degree in Procrastination.

Wash Away the Norm at Zehnder’s New and Improved Splash Village Waterpark

Today, Christie Bierlein from Frankenmuth Convention and Visitors Bureau tells us how to make a splash with a Frankenmuth family getaway designed for all ages.

Photo courtesy of Frankenmuth CVB

Photo courtesy of Frankenmuth CVB

Anyone who has had teenagers could likely agree that they can be difficult travelers to please.  What is “cool” to teenagers?  Everything is “boring”.  One would think that they themselves would have the perfect answer to a cool getaway since they often think they have all the answers…and in today’s world they just might since in their lifetime there’s never been a question they couldn’t just Google to find the answer.  So before you go through the exhausted list of “been there, done that” for your next family vacation, consider something that was built with them in mind!

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Photo courtesy of Frankenmuth CVB

Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel & Waterpark just opened a new expanded atrium waterpark in Frankenmuth, which is the only waterpark in Michigan to offer two distinctly different family waterparks.  While Splash Village continues to be a destination for families of all ages, the new waterpark expansion offers two six-story rides for the more adventurous traveler; perfect for those teenagers.

In just 6.9 seconds, you will drop 40 feet and travel down the 273’ long Super Loop, complete with a 360 degree loop! Or gather your friends and family to take on the 4 person family raft ride called the Tantrum Twist! The expansion also features a 20 person hot tub, Action River and the best part, private Cabanas for up to 10 people; they all have mini refrigerators, safes, flat screen TV’s and personalized food and beverage service. Now we are talking vacation!

Photo courtesy of Zehnder's

Photo courtesy of Zehnder’s

Did we mention that the over 50,000 square feet of aquatic adventure is also highlighted by Michigan’s only waterpark with a retractable roof?  That’s right.  If it’s raining they close the roof. If it’s sunny and warm, the roof may be open.  The addition includes 32 new guest rooms, 22 of which offer panoramic views of the waterpark.

For those that have enjoyed the original waterpark that opened in 2005 and geared towards that younger age group still features a lazy river, whirlpool, hot tub, 400-gallon dumping bucket, water geysers and sprayers, a four-story tube slide and the Elf Hollow Café.  The expansion also doubled the number of locker rooms, expanded the arcade and concession options.  Waterpark-only day passes are available by making advanced reservations. Zehnder’s Chairman and CEO Al Zehnder says, “Our overall goal is to offer a four-season family vacation destination – from our waterparks to our 1,500-seat Zehnder’s Restaurant, Z-Bakery and Gift Shop and the 18-hole Fortress golf course.”

Photo courtesy of Zehnder's

Photo courtesy of Zehnder’s

So now that you have the kids hooked (or maybe it’s you that can’t wait to try the Super Loop), don’t forget about all the other great reasons to enjoy Frankenmuth with your family.  It’s the perfect time of year for a stop at Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland to get in the spirit of the season; and conveniently located right next to Splash Village.  And nothing brings a family together more than time around the table, so carve out some time to enjoy a meal together at one of the World Famous Chicken Dinner restaurants.

Remember, whatever it is you enjoy doing while you are in Frankenmuth, it is always better to do it while eating something sweet!  So, consider a visit to your old favorites or check out the Explore Frankenmuth App for new ideas.  Either way, get to Frankenmuth soon; it’s where memories are made and traditions begin!

So, which do you choose – Super Loop, Lazy River, World Famous Chicken Dinner? What’s your favorite part of a Frankenmuth getaway? 

Enter If You Dare! Thirteen Haunted Places in Marquette, Michigan

These eerie attractions are not for the faint of heart! Today, Barry Winslow from Travel Marquette shares ghost stories from the thirteen most haunted places in Marquette – just in time for a Halloween visit! 

Photo courtesy of Travel Marquette

Photo courtesy of Travel Marquette

Old City Orphanage – Fisher Street
Extremely popular among city residents and students too, the Old City Orphanage is widely considered one of the most haunted locations in Marquette County. A favorite during the Halloween season, the Old City Orphanage is full of ghostly spirits and haunted tales. One thing is for certain though…there is a spooky energy floating within the orphanage’s walls.

Stories deemed to be true have been passed of an orphanage nun who once beat a young boy so badly, he died almost immediately. A funeral service was to be held in the orphanage’s basement for the children and faculty only, but the nun did not want to be punished for the beating and buried the boy in nearby Park Cemetery on Seventh Street. Somehow, the boy’s spirit escaped the cemetery and he can be seen lying in a coffin in the orphanage’s basement; illuminated by a faint green glow.

304 Halverson Hall
In the late 1960’s, a Northern student who stayed in this room hung herself from her top bunk. It has been reported that her ghost still haunts the halls of the third floor of Halverson. It has been reported that sometimes late at night, the sound of fingernails scratching along the blackboards in the study rooms on the third floor of Halverson can be heard.

Photo courtesy of Travel Marquette

Photo courtesy of Travel Marquette

Landmark Inn
Prestigious for its tall stature, breathtaking views from the rooms of Lake Superior and its ideal location in downtown Marquette, the Landmark Inn ranks as one of the most popular sites in the city. Plenty of Landmark ghost stories have been shared since its existence, all eerie in their own right, but one of which seems to always top the ranks as the downright spookiest.

Tucked in the far corner of the sixth floor of the Landmark Inn is the Lilac Room. A large room used today as a banquet and hospitality dinner space, the Lilac Room is known for its elegant and historic décor. The ghost story surrounding the Lilac Room goes that the telephone switchboard in the lobby on the main floor of the hotel receives calls from the room although it is not occupied by any guests or workers.

Theories have been made that the person making the calls is that of the Lilac Lady, a former lover of a sailor who frequently stayed in the Lilac Room and once went to sail on Lake Superior and never returned. Being completely heartbroken, the Lilac Lady committed suicide in the room by tying multiple lilac imprinted napkins together and hanging herself outside one of the room’s many windows.

Current hotel workers have described numerous sightings in the hall of the sixth floor of the ghost of the Lilac Lady wearing a floral gown after the switchboard calls were made. To this very day, the hotel lobby switchboard continues to ring and more and more sightings of the Lilac Lady ghost are reported.

Forest Roberts Theatre – Northern Michigan University
In the early 1970’s, an NMU employed janitor fell victim to a serious heart attack in the elevator shaft that connects the Forest Roberts Theatre to the Thomas Fine Arts Building. A heavier set gentleman with a full beard and jovial persona, the physical work simply caught up to him late one Friday evening as he took his last breath in the elevator shaft. No ghostly sightings of the janitor have ever been reported, but mysterious occurrences with the elevator have. After class hours, cameras installed in the hall frequently capture the elevator changing floors, doors opening with no one inside and the operational lights turning on and off. Apparently, the janitor’s spirit is still uneasy after all these years…

Marquette Harbor Lighthouse
The mystery of the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse is a spooky one, which many local residents may not know. Taylor Adams, a worker at the Marquette Maritime Museum and daughter of the former coastguard station chief, lived in the small white house on the point where the lighthouse stands. On several accounts, Taylor has witnessed a small ghost of a girl on the upper floor of the lighthouse. Standing in broad daylight, this ghostly figure of a girl is seen staring out the upper floor window, peering out at the horizon of Lake Superior. It has been reported that the girl prefers catching a glimpse of the horizon when Lake Superior is in a calm state, as the winds of the lake stir up the sounds of the souls of her long lost mother and father, proving too much for her to bear.

Photo courtesy of Travel Marquette

Photo courtesy of Travel Marquette

Big Bay Point Lighthouse
Located approximately 25 miles Northwest of Marquette is the small town of Big Bay, Michigan. A few street crossings comprised of churches, a motel, and the Thunder Bay Inn (an old depot bought by Henry Ford in the 1940’s that now functions as a hotel and restaurant) are the few attractions that make up the setting of the village. Jutting to the northeast of the town on the shores of Lake Superior is Big Bay Point, where Big Bay Point Lighthouse, built in 1896, stands on its own.

The first lighthouse keeper, William Prior, was an ornery and hardworking keeper of the light and was a perfectionist when it came to the duties of tending the light and grounds. Journaling in his logbook, Prior complained of the incompetence and weak work ethic of the many assistant keepers of the light. Eventually, Prior’s son took on the job as assistant light keeper, even he knowing that his own father was tough to work with due to his stubbornness and quick temper. This brought upon a sense of fear to Prior’s son.

One day, Prior’s son was working on the pier on the north side of the point. Taking a false step he lost his balance and fell on the concrete, cracking his shin bone and cutting himself. Afraid to tell his ornery father of the mishap, he continued working hard keeping up the grounds as his father would have wished. It wasn’t long before gangrene set in and the son fell brutally ill. With no clear trails or roads in Big Bay at this time, the fastest way to Marquette to receive medical assistance was by rowboat. William rowed ferociously to Marquette with all of his might to save his ill son, but it was too late. William’s son died in the rowboat before he could reach shore. A funeral was scheduled for William’s son the following day, but it was not enough to bury the growing sorrow in Mr. Prior.

Returning to Big Bay the following day and falling further into depression, Mr. Prior left a note on the table for Jenny Beamer, the wife of another assister light keeper. The note read, “Jenny, that’s it. I’m taking a gun and cyanide into the woods. Goodbye.” Theory goes is that Jenny, who was no stranger to Mr. Prior’s ornery personality, happened upon him in the woods debating which weapon to use. Gun or cyanide? Cyanide or gun? Jenny, who “just so happened” to have a length of rope with her in her hand approached him and said, “Oh, William. Having a problem? I have a solution. Stand on my basket and take this rope around your neck and we’ll make this quick and easy for you.”

Two years later, a walker came across the head of Mr. Prior hanging from a maple tree about two miles into the woods from the lighthouse. To this day, reports of visitors staying at the Big Bay Point Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast are awoken by the ghost of an elderly groundskeeper with coastguard attire and a thick red mustache standing at the foot of their bed in the middle of the night. One minute he’s there, the next, disappearing into the walls of the lighthouse.

Thunder Bay Inn
One of the most notable attractions in Big Bay, Michigan is that of the Thunder Bay Inn. Originally used as a “one-stop shop” facility functioning as a depot, first aid station, and a storage site for the mill across the street, the Thunder Bay Inn was built for and purchased by Henry Ford and used as an Inn for personal friends and family. With a long business history featuring everything from Brunswick billiard tables and bowling pins to wood refinishing for Ford’s “Woody” stylized Model-A and Model-T cars, numerous ghost stories have been told of past inn keepers and hotel guests.

The most notable ghost story of the Thunder Bay Inn took place in the upstairs hallway. Duke, the son of the current owner of the Inn, works as a tour guide for hotel guests and visitors and also lives in the Inn’s back upstairs apartment. One night, after closing up the Inn and doing the final linen wash, Duke headed down the stairs to the Inn’s back kitchen to fix himself a sandwich. Returning up the stairs, he peered to his left and gazed down the long upstairs hallway as he did every night. To his amazement, he stood in complete shock as he watched the wooden baby rocking chair in the hall slowing moving back and forth.

Knowing that the Inn has no ventilation system and having closed every door and window just prior to making his nighttime snack, Duke couldn’t help but believe that what he was watching was the antics of a female ghost rocking her baby to sleep. Duke has mentioned that even more paranormal activity has occurred in the Inn and claims that the ghost is a friendly one, not disturbing any guests or workers but instead is a motherly spirit who frequently tends to her child. Friendly as the ghost may seem, Duke continues to keep his distance to prevent disturbing the ghost. Who knows what it may do when it is angry…

Marquette Monthly
Located on Third Street in Marquette, the Marquette Monthly magazine is a staple to the community when it comes to producing one of few printed publications in the county covering everything from entertaining events to local arts and culture. Marquette Monthly magazine issues date back to 1999, but the building where the magazine is headquartered is much older. Once a two story house, the Marquette Monthly building was constructed in the late 1930’s and wasn’t purchased by the magazine until the 1990’s. The transition from house to publication business was a natural fit, though, as it was discovered that the top floor of the house once operated as a small printing office that produced time cards and delivery notes for the train depots in the area.

Stories are told to this day about the first print press worker, Beth Ann, who lived upstairs and worked the print office when the building was first built. With a daily regimen of loading the large metal printing press with ink, changing out the machine’s characters and fonts and handling all print deliveries, unclogging paper jams was a very common occurrence. A dangerous job, Beth Ann had to use extreme caution around the machine’s sharp edges and moving inner parts.

One day, just before the first train was to roll into the depot, Beth Ann’s shirt sleeve got caught in the printing press’ card stock feeder and the machine slowly began to inch her arm closer and closer to the letter press. Being the only person in the office, her blood curdling screams were never heard. That night, Beth Ann’s husband came home from work to find his wife lying on the floor next to the printing press, arm missing, covered in her own blood. Workers at the Marquette Monthly have reported screams coming from the top floor of the building late at night. It seems as if the ghost of Beth Ann still lives on today.

Acocks Medical Center at Morgan Heights – County Road 492
Nestled on the side of County Road 492, between Marquette and Negaunee, in an area known as Morgan Heights, sit two brick houses that were once part of a large tuberculosis medical hospital named Acocks. Built in the late 1930’s, Acocks Medical Center stretched a great distance along the side of County Road 492. Medical staff and cliental resided in the two brick houses that still stand today. These houses were connected to Acocks, which has since been demolished, by a series of underground tunnels. Acocks is known to be the type of facility where one checks in but never checks out!

Medical advancements to better cure tuberculosis came well after Acocks was constructed, so experimental treatments were used on Acocks’ many patients that would never be carried out today. Stories are told of mentally and physically ill patients who were treated with electric shock therapy and copious amounts of morphine tainted elixirs. Psychic mediums and local journalists have even toured the tunnels since Acocks was demolished and have detected paranormal occurrences and cold spots where ghostly spirits live on today. In a field just out front of the two stone houses, a paranormal psychic reported seeing hundreds of ghostly souls of the ill patients deliriously wandering, still lost in their medically induced stupors. Let’s just say there’s something really eerie going on at Acocks.

Chocolay River Trading Post – Front Street
Standing outside of Wells Fargo bank and looking directly across Front Street you’ll see a large downtown building that is occupied by Chocolay River Trading Post, a local downtown furniture store, and Elizabeth’s Chop House. With a large basement extending downward to the parking lot located behind the building at lake level, this gigantic historic downtown structure was once home to Oakley’s Furniture Store. The basement of this building, though, has its own spooky past.

Old photographs of downtown Marquette show the sign suspended from the building’s façade reading “Oakley’s Furniture / Undertaking.” Apparently, cadaver embalmment was practiced in this building’s basement and city morticians of the time would preserve the dead throughout the long Marquette winters for summer burials and funeral processions. Paula Richardson, a worker at the Chocolay River Trading Post, claims that she has heard the sounds of furniture items being knocked over and ghostly cries coming from the basement before closing up the store at night. No ghostly figures have ever been seen in the building, but a lingering presence of haunted spirits still exists today.

Cabin 13 at Bay Cliff Health Camp – Big Bay
Located about 25 miles northwest of Marquette in Big Bay is Bay Cliff Health Camp. A nonprofit summer therapy camp for children who need assistance with occupational, speech, hearing, and vision therapy, the 130-acre property is a northern Michigan vista surrounded with hardwood forest and gorgeous views of Lake Independence and Lake Superior. Bay Cliff was built in 1934 and is comprised of numerous cabins, lunch halls, common rooms, meeting space and outdoor parks. Originally, Bay Cliff was opened to care for malnourished and underprivileged children before turning its focus to the more therapy-based camp of today.

Rumors have been spread of spirits and ghostly figures of past residents and children that haunt the old cabins and common rooms of the camp. Many stories have been passed down of the camp over the years, but the haunting of Cabin 13 continues to be one of the most told.

It is reported that long ago there was a child named Sam staying at the camp that committed suicide and his ghost still haunts Bay Cliff. A large L-shaped common building at the camp is nicknamed “Sam’s Place” as it was in this building’s center room that Sam passed away. Sam had reportedly grown up in a poor household in Ishpeming and began to attend camp at a young age when his parents felt it would be best for him to be a part of a camp setting in the summer months. It is reported that Sam also had poor eyesight and wore large circular glasses that hung low over the bridge of his nose and was an exceptional artist as well.

The haunting of the center room in “Sam’s Place” is another ghost story floating around Bay Cliff, but it is rumored that Sam lived in Cabin 13 during his time there. Sam’s cabin walls were covered with his artwork as well as the paintings of the artists he so dearly admired. The story goes that one night at camp another resident began bullying Sam for his “nerdy” appearance and the size and shape of his glasses. The resident continued to bully Sam by destroying some of his artwork and stomping on his glasses. Not having the ability to see to paint without his glasses, Sam was unable to replicate his destroyed works and fell into severe depression. It is said that Sam went to the center room at “Sam’s Place” and used the sharp tip of an old feather pen as a knife to end his life.

Sam’s ghost is said to haunt Cabin 13 to this very day. Residents in the cabin have claimed that heavy paintings on the walls of the cabin would fall to the ground at night and wake the campers from their sleep. Then, just as they were about to hang the paintings back in their place, they would mysteriously float off the ground and be hung on the wall; except now hanging upside down. It has also been reported that campers staying in Cabin 13 have had to visit the camp medical facility after stepping on chards of glass scattered across the cabin rug. Could these be the same chards from Sam’s glasses? It seems as if the ghostly spirit of Sam is still running amok at Bay Cliff.

Photo courtesy of Travel Marquette

Photo courtesy of Travel Marquette

Park Cemetery – Seventh Street
There are numerous ghost stories and hauntings that surround Park Cemetery on Seventh Street in Marquette, but one of the most shocking is one that relates to the haunting of the Old City Orphanage. People walking through the cemetery have noted a large hole in the ground near the grave site that was created for the boy in the Old City Orphanage that was beaten to death by the orphanage nun.

Oddly enough, it is around the same time that the hole in the ground is reported to the cemetery staff that sightings of the green glow in the Orphanage basement are also documented. Shortly after this phenomenon takes place in the cemetery and orphanage, the green glow disappears and the hole in the ground of the cemetery is neatly filled in and covered with flowers. From the looks of it, it seems as if the ghost of the beaten orphan is still restless and on the move today.

The Old Catholic Cemetery
Perched on the corner of Pioneer Road and Division Street in south Marquette sits a patch of woods where the old Catholic Cemetery used to be located. Sitting alongside of Pioneer Road and just tucked into the woods is a sign (pictured) describing a brief history of the cemetery and the story behind its relocation to Wright Street and the people still buried at the site.

Looking back at the history of this old cemetery, it has been recorded that this location became the burial place for numerous Marquette Catholics beginning in 1861. Due to a shortage of space, the area where the current Holy Cross Cemetery on Wright Street sits was purchased in the early 1900’s for further burials. What is interesting to note is that between the years of 1912 and 1925, nearly 165 Catholics buried in the Old Catholic Cemetery were transferred to Holy Cross Cemetery on Wright Street, but not every Catholic body was accounted for in this transition. One thing to consider is that geographic and topographic mapping at the time was much less accurate. Presumably, someone was buried, and, if you were lucky and could afford it, the cemetery staff would place a gravestone over your plot. Over time, all the gravestones were moved to the new location, but some of the bodies could not be found or retrieved and have since been left behind, still lying beneath the soil at the old Cemetery today.

It has been mentioned by residents of the trailer park across the street from the old Catholic Cemetery that the sounds of voices and screams of the bodies left behind can be heard when a strong southerly wind blows through the forest that has now overgrown the old burial sites. One could assume that the dead are looking for their loved ones who were taken from them nearly a century ago…

Have you been to any of these mysterious Upper Peninsula locations? Did you have paranormal encounter during your visit?