Like anywhere, Michigan has its own mysteries, tales and urban legends. Here are just few.
1. The Singing Sands of Bete Grise
(It’s pronounced bay-de-gree, if you were wondering.)
Bete Grise is a white sand beach on the southern shore of the Keweenaw Peninsula that juts out into Lake Superior. Take a walk in the sand, and you might be startled by the strange sounds you hear.
The sands of Bete Grise make a singing sound when pressed down with your hand or even a bare foot. If you strike the sand, it makes a barking sound.
Legend says the sound the sand makes is the voice of a Native American maid crying out to her lost love who died at sea in Lake Superior.
Scientists say the sand sings when perfect conditions such as the size of the grains, humidity and the makeup of the sand is just right. However, they admit that they don’t completely understand what creates the phenomenon.
Here’s the creepy part. OK, maybe not creepy, but definitely eerie. If the sand is removed from the beach to another location, the phenomenon can’t be replicated.
Perhaps the sound is the mournful cry for a lost love.
2. The Paulding Light
Since 1966, folks in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula have been trying to figure out the source of the mysterious light that appears almost every night in a valley outside of Paulding, off US 45 on Robbins Pond Road. Hundreds of locals and tourists have claimed to the see the light, which varies from white to red to green to blue.
Legend says that the light is the ghostly lantern of a railroad brakeman who was killed along the tracks that once ran through the valley.
Students from Michigan Tech University in Houghton conducted a scientific study on the Paulding Light. Their results debunked the myth, saying the light comes from the headlights and break lights of cars driving down Highway 45. However, many people don’t believe the students’ explanation.
Several paranormal researchers have investigated the light and said they can’t find a cause. They consider it an unexplainable phenomenon.
To draw your own conclusions, travel north on highway 45 from Watersmeet to Robbins Pond Road. Follow Robin’s Pond for 3/8 of a mile. You’ll come to a barricade. When dark falls, the Paulding Light should appear.
3. The Ada Witch
Ada is a quiet, affluent suburb of Grand Rapids. With good schools and plenty of parks, it’s the perfect place to raise a family. Just stay away from the village’s Findlay Cemetery, reportedly home to the Ada Witch.
Legend says that in the 1800s, a local married woman’s husband caught her with her lover in the woods near the cemetery. A brutal fight broke out, and the husband killed his wife.
Some residents claim a woman in a white dress, who they call The Ada Witch, haunts the cemetery. They say she is the ghost of the adulterous woman.
Late night visitors to the location also report seeing bluish-green mists and orbs. They say they sometimes hear footsteps, weeping, shrieking and the sounds of a struggle. Some even claim the ghost touched them.
Michigan’s thick forests are the perfect place to conceal a giant, human-like ape. There have been multiple sightings of Bigfoot reported in the state for decades.
In a recent sighting, a trail cam near Beulah, in the Northern Lower Peninsula, caught what appeared to be a Bigfoot on film.
Evidence has also been found many times in the Upper Peninsula. There is even a Big Foot conference held in the U.P. every year.
The greatest number of sightings occur in the Huron National Forest near Comins. It’s known as the Bigfoot Capital of Michigan.
There are 107 documented cases of Bigfoot encounters in The Mitten State. Does Bigfoot roam the woods of Michigan? What do you think?
The first known sighting of the Michigan Dogman was in Wexford County in 1887. Two lumberjacks spotted a creature they said appeared to have the head of a dog on a man’s body.
A few years later, a man traveling in the Upper Peninsula made camp for the night in the woods. He left his horses tied up nearby. He claimed to find the horses dead from fright the next morning. Their carcasses were surrounded by large, canine-like tracks, too large to be from a wolf or domestic dog.
Robert Fortney was attacked by five wild dogs in Paris, Michigan in 1938. He claimed one of the dogs walked upright on two legs like a man.
Other documented accounts of Dogman encounters come from Allegan County, Manistee and Cross Village.
6. Mackinac Island Witch Trials
Today’s family-friendly Mackinac Island, with its beautiful summer homes, shops and restaurants, has a dark side to its past. In the 1700s and 1800s, when Fort Mackinac was still a military outpost, the island was teeming with soldiers, fur traders and other workmen. As was common in booming frontier towns of the time, brothels sprang up to provide “services” to the men of island.
When town leaders discovered what kind of business the women who worked at the brothels were involved in, they accused them of witchcraft. They said they used their powers to entice the men of the town. That was surely the only explanation for why otherwise upstanding citizens would engage in such unbecoming behavior.
The same method was used on Mackinac Island to determine if the women were truly witches as was used in other parts of the United States at the time. The women were strapped to chairs and rocks were tied to their feet. Then they were thrown into the water. If they sank, they were not guilty of witchcraft. If they floated, they were proven to be witches. Unfortunately, if they sank and were found innocent, they still lost their lives to drowning.
On Mackinac Island, the women were thrown into what was fittingly called the Drowning Pool. It’s located between Mission Point Resort and downtown. It has a deep 20 foot drop off. Sadly, all seven of the women tried for witchcraft on the island and thrown into the pool sank and drowned.
7. The Beeson Mansion and Crypt in Niles
The city of Niles is deep in southern Michigan, close to where the state line meets Indiana. A stately old house known as the Beeson Mansion graces one of the town’s tree lined streets. Across from the mansion is the private Beeson family cemetery. A single stone crypt sits in the center of a wooded lot. The crypt is the only burial place in the cemetery. The story of one of the crypt’s occupants may be the saddest and most disturbing Michigan legend of all.
The wealthy Mr. Beeson built the ornate crypt as his mother’s final resting place. Sadly, not long after her passing, his one-year-old son also died. The boy was laid to rest in the family crypt alongside his grandmother.
The boy’s mother, Mrs. Beeson, could not come to grips with the loss of her young son. Every night she visited the crypt where she would feed, bath and even diaper the lifeless body. She rocked him and sang to him as if she were putting him to bed.
Mrs. Beeson even left a lit lantern in the crypt, believing the child was afraid of the dark. Her husband, in an effort to appease his wife, eventually had gas lighting installed in the crypt to keep a light burning continuously.
It all came to a gruesome end when one night, while Mrs. Beeson was rocking the badly decomposed corpse to sleep, the eyes fell out of the dead child’s head. Seeing this was too great a shock for the already disturbed mother. She never recovered from the trauma and was institutionalized. She passed away in an insane asylum at the young age of 28 and was laid to rest in the crypt with her son.
Today the mansion and crypt are still privately owned, but can be viewed from the street. Passersby claim to have heard a mother wailing for her child at night.
8. The Little Mary Grave in Jackson
In 1892, Little Mary, the daughter of a wealthy Jackson businessman, died at the tender age of seven from a terrible illness. Her tiny body was laid to rest in Oaks Cemetery, called Hillcrest Memorial Park today.
A few day after her funeral, Mary’s distraught mother awoke in the middle of the night, sobbing and screaming that her daughter had been buried alive. Nothing would console her mother. She kept insisting Little Mary was not dead when the casket was sealed and placed six feet beneath the ground.
Desperate to relieve his wife’s fears, Little Mary’s father had the grave opened and the body exhumed. Then a horrifying discovery was made. The mother’s worst fears were confirmed by the claw marks covering the inside of the casket. Little Mary had indeed been buried alive and furiously tried to escape.
Little Mary’s grave can still be viewed in Hillcrest Memorial Park. Some visitors claim to have heard the sounds of a child crying and fingernails scratching at wood.
9. The Corn Monster of Winn
A few miles southwest of Mt. Pleasant, you’ll find the tiny village of Winn. It might seem like any other small, rural Michigan town, but you may want to avoid the back roads and farm fields in the area, lest you run into its infamous and terrifying resident, The Corn Monster of Winn.
Locals around Winn claim a hideous monster lurks in the cornfields nearby. He’s a shadowy figure that looks like a disheveled man, emerging out of the tall stalks, scaring anyone driving late at night.
A 2003 account from a delivery driver seems to confirm the legend. Stopped on a country road near Winn one night to rest, he gets out of his truck to stretch his legs. Next thing he knows, a frightening creature appears on the edge of the cornfield. The terrified driver runs back to his truck and drives off before the monster reaches him.
Truth or fiction? You’ll have to take a late night drive through the countryside around Winn and decide for yourself.
10. The Grand Island Lighthouse Mystery
It’s June, 1908, and a small sailboat is found floating in Lake Superior, near Au Sable Point. The only passenger on board is the bloody and badly beaten body of Edward Morrison, the assistant keeper at the Grand Island North Lighthouse, a few miles away. Despite eyewitness reports that his head appears to be bashed in by a bat, the coroner lists exposure as the cause of death. However, a second coroner’s investigation concludes he was murdered.
After hearing Morrison is dead and realizing the beacon in the lighthouse had not been lit for almost a week, some men from Munising go out to the island to investigate. The light’s head keeper, George Genry, is also nowhere to be found.
Supplies recently brought from town are still piled on the dock, and the contents inside the lighthouse appear undisturbed. A jacket and hat hang on the back of a chair in the kitchen. A diary is left open with a pencil next to it on the table, as if the owner will be right back.
Searchers look everywhere for Genry. Even his wife who lives in town has no idea of his whereabouts. Finally, in July, Genry’s body washes up on the Lake Superior shore, near Munising. But the mystery behind the death of the two keepers remains unsolved to this day.
The East Grand Island Lighthouse is now privately owned. One of the owners, Loren Graham, has written a book “Death at the Lighthouse” in which she attempts to solve the mystery. The book is available on Amazon.