A Q&A With Two Michigan Ghost Hunters

Bev Rydel, left, and Kat Tedsen are the authors of "Haunted Travels of Michigan."

Kat Tedsen and Bev Rydel are the authors of “Haunted Travels of Michigan,” a book chronicling their adventures exploring haunted places across Michigan. They were kind enough to take time out of their schedules to answer some of our questions. See them in person at the Historic White Horse Inn on Oct. 26 and 27.

Q. How long have you been exploring haunted places in Michigan?
A. Since 2006. Over the last five years we have completed more than 160 investigations. Each year we travel thousands of miles across Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsula searching out Michigan’s most reputedly haunted locations. With a skeptic’s eye we investigate each site and attempt to separate fact from fiction. We’ll spend weeks analyzing evidence and additional months on historical research all to determine the truth behind the stories of hauntings.

Q. What do you look for when you are exploring a location?
A. First we have to find a location. We’re looking for a place with a long history of reported paranormal activity. Next, we want it to be public so people traveling through Michigan can stop, if they choose, to visit and explore the location.

As investigators, we stay alert for the slighted noise or movements that may seem out of the ordinary. We monitor temperature and energy fluctuations in a room using a variety of equipment and gauges.

It is believed that a ghost is energy and that, when an entity comes near, it will draw energy to themselves. This causes the temperature to sometimes drop and high levels of energy fluctuations to register on gauges. Audio and video with infrared night vision are also part of an investigator’s gear bag.

Of course, a real paranormal investigation (ghost hunt) is not nearly as exciting as seen on TV. Most of the time it is very quiet and uneventful. Nothing is experienced. It is only in reviewing audio and video that evidence is identified.

Q. Where are some haunted places in Michigan? Can you give a quick summary of three places?
A. Over the past 4-5 years we’ve discovered many locations in Michigan with paranormal activity. Perhaps one of our most compelling is the Calumet Theater in Calumet, MI and, just a few blocks away, the site of the Italian Hall Disaster.

The Italian Hall Disaster occurred on Christmas Eve 1913. Hundreds of people, mostly children, crowded into the Italian Hall for an afternoon party. During the event, someone called “fire”. This started a panic. Adults and children rushed for the single staircase leading to the exit. They tripped and fell on one another blocking the stairway. When all was over, more than 70 deaths occurred through suffocation. Most of those were children. Adding to the tragedy, there was no fire that afternoon. Who called fire or why they did it remains unknown to this day.

The bodies of the deceased were taken to the Red Jacket Opera House, which is now the oldest section of the Calumet Theater. The evidence captured during our investigation of the Red Jacket Opera house and small memorial park where the Italian Hall once stood was compelling.

Another of Michigan’s most haunted is the beautiful Whitney Restaurant in Detroit, MI.  This magnificent mansion now restaurant was built by Detroit’s wealthiest lumber baron, David Whitney, Jr., around 1900.

Reports of strange phenomena began in the mid-1980s during the time the home was being converted to a restaurant. Since that time there have been frequent reports of apparitions primarily on the second floor. One of those wandering apparitions is said to be Mr. Whitney. There have been other reports of shadow people on the second floor. Disembodied voices have also been heard in the second floor ladies room.

We completed several overnight investigations with paranormal team, Highland Ghost Hunters.  From those investigations, some of our most significant and compelling evidence was collected. Based on that, it appears to validate the claim of its haunting. Perhaps even more fascinating, some of the evidence collected connects with historical events that occurred in the house over 100 years ago.

Yet another fascinating haunted location is the Terrace Inn in Petoskey, Michigan. The original inn was built in the 19th Century and rebuilt in 1911, after a fire. It was a popular resort hotel during Michigan’s Chautauqua era.

The inn is said to have been active for decades. Objects moving across floors and tables have been reported.  Disembodied voices, mists traveling up stairways are just a few of the other reports. Its most well know ghost is The Lady In White.  She is said to roam the hallways and, occasionally, into a guest room. There is also reported to be the apparition man in a tweed jacket standing out on the balcony looking in. Perhaps the most active spirit is that of a little shadow person that hangs out in the basement.

After several extended investigations, the audio and video evidence was overwhelming. This evidence appears to connect historical events and people, which may identify at least some of the ghostly apparitions that roam the inn.

Q. Are there haunted places in the Upper Peninsula?
A. We’ve already discussed the Calumet Theater and site of the Italian Hall. But that’s just scratching the surface. There are many reports of hauntings in the U.P. Too numerous to name here but a few include:

Seul Choix Point Lighthouse in Gulliver. Legend says the ghost of former lighthouse keeper, Captain Joseph Willie Townsend, remains. Our investigation and collected evidence may or may not validate old Willie is there, but seems to indicate evidence of something paranormal going on at this historic lighthouse.

There are the Paulding Lights in Watersmeet. For those who haven’t seen them, the Paulding Lights are white, yellow and red lights that appear in the evening sky at the far end of a railroad track. These lights float erratically, moving forward, back, and sideways then just disappear. Some believe cars and trucks on a distant roadway are causing the strange lights but others, including an in depth investigation  by SyFy producers of Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files, disagree. It cause remains a mystery.

Folklore has it that a railroad brakeman was swinging his lantern to stop a train from hitting rail cars. The train struck and killed him. The lights seen are thought to be from the brakeman’s lantern.

Q. Are there different groups or events in Michigan that focus on haunted places?
A. We have heard there are several paranormal events in Michigan that include historical ghost walks and group investigations.

Every August, Michigan hosts one of the country’s largest paranormal conferences. It is hosted by the Upper Peninsula Paranormal Research Society and the Kewadin Casino Resort in Sault Ste. Marie.

The conference draws over 1,000 people annually and features some of the most well known and well respected people in the paranormal community. Special guests have included Ghost Adventures Crew from the Travel Channel, SyFy’s Ghost Hunters, John Zaffis and many more.

Todd Clemens, Haunts of Mackinac offers a unique Downtown Haunted History Tour of Mackinac Island and night time investigations of Mission Point Theater and Soundstage.

We, Haunted Travels of Michigan, also host a variety of overnight and weekend ghost hunting adventures. Some of our regular public hunts include A Ghost Hunters Weekend at Historic Terrace Inn in Petoskey, MI. Here guests have the opportunity of spending a weekend at one of our most haunted locations. This event includes ghost stories, dinner, and an all night ghost hunt of the inn.

Another of our most popular weekend public hunts takes place on Mackinac Island, A Haunted Weekend on Mackinac Island. The weekend is filled with daytime and night time ghost hunts that take guests to some of the island’s most remote and reputedly haunted locations. Our special weekend also brings in Todd Clemens’ Downtown haunted tours and Mission Point Theater investigation. For this special weekend, Haunted Travels of Michigan opens up the resort’s most notoriously haunted Room 2200 for private investigation.

All of our public events and ghost hunts can be found on our website’s events page: www.hauntedtravelsmi.com/events

Q. How can people find out more information about you?
A. People can find out more about us and what we do on our website, www.hauntedtravelsmi.com

If people would like to be kept informed on our public events, presentations and the latest on our investigations, they can join our Haunted Travels friends’ list. To join, people can go to our website and register or simply email us.

We are, of course, authors of a paranormal book series, “Haunted Travels of Michigan.” Our series was awarded the International Paranormal Acknowledgement Award for Best Paranormal/Educational Book & Authors.

Our stories are not your typical ghost stories focusing on urban legends and folklore.  We want to bring readers into actual paranormal investigations with us.

In addition, we’re very historically based. For us, it’s not just about the haunting but the history that creates the haunting. If we can capture paranormal evidence that connects to true historical events and/or people, it provides a compelling reinforcement of a connection between the past and present.

Of course, each story stands on its own. However, to add an extra dimension, we have linked every story to our website’s Secret Room (password protected). The Secret Rooms allows the reader, if they choose, to hear and/or see audio, video and photographs taken during the investigation. This, of course, includes the evidence collected.

Our books area available for purchase at most major booksellers including Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com.

How Did Michigan Cities Get Their Names? Part 1

Photo by Chris Arace

Each city in Michigan has a unique history and tradition. This includes everything from when the city was created to how it was named. With that in mind, we’re creating a new feature on the Pure Michigan Connect blog where we will tell the story of how five Michigan cities earned their names. Check out the first five below and look for more in the coming weeks.

 

Detroit:
Let’s start with Detroit, the city with the most Michiganders and one of the oldest cities in the Midwest. The city is named after the Detroit River, which links Lake Huron and Lake Erie. The word “detroit” is French for “strait,” and the French called the river “le détroit du Lac Érié,” meaning “the strait of Lake Erie.” On July 24, 1701, a French explorer and nobleman by the name of Antoine de la Mothe, sieur de Cadillac founded Detroit. Check out the Detroit Fall Beer Festival on October 22 at Eastern Market, which will feature more than 40 Michigan craft breweries offering more than 200 different beers for sampling throughout the day.

Mackinac Island:
Like many historic places in the Great Lakes region, Mackinac Island’s name derives from a Native American language. It’s been said that Native Americans thought the shape of the island resembled a turtle, so they named it “Mitchimakinak” meaning “big turtle.” Then, the French used their own version of the original pronunciation and named it Michilimackinac. However, the English shortened it to the present name: “Mackinac.” You can check out live streaming video of Main Street on Mackinac Island here.

Traverse City:
Traverse City’s name is almost self-explanatory – it is named after the Grand Traverse Bay. Indian hunters and French traders were the first people to spend time here, and it was they who gave the region its name – La Grand Traverse, because of the “long crossing” they had to make by canoe across the mouth of the bay. But even the native Ottawa and Chippewa people didn’t settle here permanently until the early 18th century. Check out the Traverse City page on michigan.org for a listing of more than 150 boutiques and restaurants.

Ludington:
Ludington wasn’t always knows as Ludington, but was originally named Pere Marquette Village, which was named after French missionary and explorer Father Jacques Marquette. After it was settled in 1847, a number of lumbering camps sprung up in the area, and a lumber baron named James Ludington built and settled into what are now impressive historic homes. Residents later renamed the city after him. It’s a place where simple, timeless joys are Pure Michigan.

Grand Rapids:
Before it was named Grand Rapids, the area was settled by Ottawa Indians near the Grand River Valley. One French trader named Louis Campau established a trading post in the area in 1826 and in 1831, he bought 72 acres of land from the federal government for $90 and named his land “Grand Rapids.” This land is now the entire downtown business district of the city. It’s a place created by and for artists of all types, and you can learn more on the Grand Rapids page on Michigan.org.

 

A Lifetime of Michigan Moments

Dennis Armistead shares his “Pure Michigan Moment,” a collection of wonderful memories from his life in Michigan, and what it means to be born and raised in the Great Lakes State.

My Michigan moment is a lifetime of moments. They are moments of joy on Mackinac Island and being comforted by warm Vernors ginger ale on a day home sick from school. They include running the air-conditioning and the furnace in the same 24-hour period and moments shared with my dad listening to Ernie and Paul or Bob Ufer cheering for Bo, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Tom Izzo, Sparky Anderson and Jud Heathcote are all part of my Michigan moments, along with a plucky kid named Stevie Y who wore the C on his sweater and Gibby versus the Goose.

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