Incredibly Haunted Places in the Upper Peninsula
Guest blogger Barry Winslow from Travel Marquette shares ghost stories from the most haunted places in and near Marquette, perched on the Lake Superior shoreline in Upper Michigan. From haunted lighthouses to luxury inns, these tourist attractions will leave you with a thriller of a tale to tell—perhaps even experience.
304 Halverson Hall - Northern Michigan University
In the late 1960s, a Northern Michigan University 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, and in a particularly annoying fashion. According to local legend, students working late at night can sometimes hear the sound of fingernails scratching along the blackboards
Landmark Inn - Marquette
Towering over Marquette's cityscape and boasting breathtaking views of Lake Superior from guest rooms, the historic Landmark Inn has long ranked 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 ranks as downright spookiest.
Known for its elegant and historic décor, the Lilac Room on the inn's sixth floor is a popular meeting space. But it's better known by those who work the switchboard in the main floor lobby for what happens when no one (at least no one overtly visible) makes calls from the room. Is the caller 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? Many think so, and for good reason. The heartbroken “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 her ghost, wearing a floral gown, after the switchboard calls were made. To this 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 1970s, a university janitor fell victim to a serious heart attack in the elevator shaft that connects the Forest Roberts Theatre to the Thomas Fine Arts Building. He was a gentleman with heavy build, full beard and jovial personality, but 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. Is the janitor’s spirit is still uneasy after all these years, or perhaps he's still going about his chores!
Marquette Harbor Lighthouse – Marquette
Most look at the Marquette Harbor and its lighthouse and see the beauty of the lake, but Taylor Adams, a long-time worker at the Marquette Maritime Museum and daughter of the former Coast Guard station chief, often finds her eye drawn to a spookier apparition. On several occasions, Taylor 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.
Big Bay Point Lighthouse – Big Bay
Big Bay Point Lighthouse, built in 1896, stands alone on the lonely but dramatically beautiful Big Bay Point, jutting into Lake Superior about 25 miles northwest of Marquette, just to the north of the quaint town of Big Bay. The original lighthouse keeper, William Prior, was said to have been both an ornery and hardworking keeper of the light, a perfectionist when it came to the duties of tending the light and grounds. His logbook journal was filled with rants about the incompetence and weak work ethics of his assistant keepers. So when Prior’s son took on the job, he did so with a sense of fear about his father's stubbornness and quick temper. One day while working on the pier on the north side of the point, he lost his balance and fell on concrete, cracking his shin bone and cutting himself. Afraid of his father's temper, he continued working hard keeping up the grounds as his father would have wished. Not long after, though, gangrene set in and the young man fell seriously 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. The father, William, rowed ferociously to Marquette with all of his might to save his ill son, but it was too late. The boy died in the rowboat before he could reach shore.
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 assistant light keeper, reading: “Jenny, that’s it. I’m taking a gun and cyanide into the woods. Goodbye.” Theory goes is that Jenny, 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 B&B are awakened by the ghost of an elderly groundskeeper with Coast Guard attire and thick red mustache standing at the foot of their bed in the middle of the night. One minute he’s there, the next, vanished into the lighthouse walls.
Thunder Bay Inn – Big Bay
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 eventually purchased by Henry Ford and transformed into a home and inn for personal use and by family and friends. Many of the most famous people of the day spent time between the walls; some, apparently, have remained.
One night after closing up the Inn and doing the final linen wash, Duke, the son of the inn's current owner, 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 as friendly as this motherly spirit may seem, Duke continues to keep his distance to prevent disturbing the ghost, just in case...
Marquette Monthly – Marquette
Marquette Monthly magazine issues date back to 1999, but the building on Marquette's Third Street where the magazine is headquartered is much older. Once a two-story house, the Marquette Monthly building was constructed in the late 1930s and wasn’t purchased by the magazine until the 1990s. 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 area's train depots.
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. Hers was a dangerous job, what with a daily regimen of loading the large metal printing press with ink, changing out the machine’s characters and fonts, handling all print deliveries and unclogging paper jams. One day, just before the first train was to roll into the depot, Beth Ann’s shirt sleeve got caught in the card stock feeder, and the machine slowly began to inch her arm closer and closer to the letter press. Since she was the only person in the office, no one heard her blood-curdling screams. 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 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, still hoping to be heard.
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 1930s, Acocks Medical Center housed medical staff and clients who resided in the two brick houses still standing today—houses once connected to now-demolished Acocks by a series of underground tunnels. 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.
Medical advancements to better cure tuberculosis came well after Acocks was constructed, so experimental treatments were used on Acocks 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 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.
Chocolay River Trading Post – Front Street
The building that now houses the Chocolay River Trading Post, a local downtown furniture store, and Elizabeth’s Chop House, was once home to Oakley's Furniture Store. But it's the store's basement that has the truly spooky past.
Old photographs of downtown Marquette show the sign suspended from the building’s façade, one that gives clues to the happenings beneath. It read: “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. No word as to whether cadavers are currently wandering the building.
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 non-profit 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. It was originally 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 haunting the old cabins and common rooms of the camp. 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, a boy who committed suicide and whose ghost still haunts Bay Cliff, particularly the cabin he stayed in 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 at the time. 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. Campers have claimed that heavy paintings on the walls of the cabin would fall to the ground at night and wake them from their sleep. Then, just as they were about to hang the paintings back in their place, the paintings would mysteriously float off the ground and hang themselves 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?
Park Cemetery – Seventh Street
Numerous ghost stories surround Park Cemetery on Seventh Street in Marquette, but one of the most shocking relates to the haunting of the Old City Orphanage. People walking through the cemetery have noted a large hole in the ground near a gravesite created for a boy beaten to death by an nun in the Old City Orphanage.
Oddly enough, around the same time someone first reported a hole in the ground to the cemetery staff, sightings started of a green glow in the orphanage basement. Apparently all on its own, the green glow disappeared and the whole in the ground ended up neatly filled and covered with flowers. Is the poor boy now finally at peace?
The Old Catholic Cemetery – Marquette
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.
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 1900s for additional burials. Between 1912 and 1925, nearly 165 Catholics buried in the overcrowded cemetary were transferred to the expansion space. However, not every body was accounted for in the transition, perhaps since geographic and topographic mapping at the time was far less accurate than it is today. 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, lying somewhere beneath the old Cemetery soil. Today, when a strong southerly wind blows through the forest that has grown over the old burial sites, residents of the trailer park across the street hear voices and screams of bodies left behind. One could assume the dead are looking for the loved ones taken from them nearly a century ago…