She Freaks! Hauntings of the North Midwest

Happy Halloween from doNorth! One thing you may not know about us is that we LOVE scary stories. Whether it’s true crime, ghost stories, or folklore, we can’t get enough. What makes these things even creepier is when they’re local and you know EXACTLY where they occurred. So, we’re rounding up eerie tales from the North Midwest to add a little fright to your fest.



Be careful where you roam at night in western Michigan. The Melon Heads might come after you. Said to haunt the woods near Saugatuck, these childlike figures have oversized heads and mostly white eyes, with irises barely visible above the lower eyelid. They might knock on your car window, or they might stalk you as you walk the dog. Some speculate that the Melon Heads were children in the late 19th century with hydrocephaly who escaped a local hospital where a doctor had been conducting terrible experiments on them. Be especially wary if you're a young couple making out in a parked car; the Melon Heads like to tap on the windows to get your attention.

Seul Choix Point Light House, Gulliver

For decades it’s been said that Captain Willie Townsend, former light keeper, remains attached to this old structure. It is also thought two female spirits wander the light keeper’s residence. One of them is Mary “grandma” Pemble, the mother-in-law of a former light keeper. Grandma Pemble died there during one of Lake Michigan’s worst blizzards, a blizzard that assailed the lighthouse. Like an invading army, the wind and snow smashed through windows and assaulted the rooms. There have been extensive accounts of activity by visitors and employees. There have been reports of apparitions, objects moving, the scent of Captain Townsend’s cigar smoke, and much more.

The Ruins of Au Sable, Oscoda

The city of Oscoda, Michigan lies just north of Saginaw Bay on the eastern side of the state. It looks out over the waters of Lake Huron and has deep ties to the past. Nearby are many legends of death and spirits. Among those are the stories of Lake Solitude. This lake was once connected to Lake Huron, but now only a narrow creek allows the waters to join. Many believe that the passage was closed by the sinking of the Griffin, a ship of the explorer LaSalle, which sank here centuries ago. The ship is said to still be hidden beneath the lake and the ghosts of the ship's crew are still haunting the nearby shores.

Nearby are the ruins of Au Sable, the region's oldest settlement. It burned down in 191 1 and many believe it to be a very haunted spot. The energies here are said to be so high that local witchcraft practitioners hold their secret ceremonies in the ruins. Although tradition holds that many ghosts still walk here.... there is one that is said to be the resident spirit.

 The best accounting of this ghost took place in 1979 when a group of local hunters came to a cabin in the nearby woods for a weekend of hunting. One of the hunters got lost and wandered away from the others, becoming quickly disoriented in the heavy forest. He spent several hours wandering and searching for signs of civilization before, exhausted and hungry, he sat down to rest. He heard the crackling of underbrush and a young woman walked out of the forest. She asked what he was doing there and after he explained, she offered to lead him to safety. She told him that he father owned a farm nearby and she knew the woods quite well. Before long, they had reached the road. The hunter knew his way back to the cabin and he thanked the young woman profusely. She smiled at him..... and vanished.

Needless to say, the hunter was stunned and when he told his friends about it, they at first scoffed but then were convinced by his shock and sincerity. They packed up their belongings and started for home, stopping at a local restaurant for dinner and to phone their wives and tell them they were on the way home, They had a beer at the bar and the hunter told of his experience with the young woman to the bartender. He was not surprised by the tale at all.... he had heard it before.

The young woman's name had been Leona and her family had once had a farm in those woods. Back in 1929, Leona had been shot and killed by a hunter who mistook her for a deer. Since then, her spirit had been seen many times, usually leading lost people out of the forest.


Bluffs Park, Minneapolis

St. Anthony Main, along the Mississippi Riverfront, is old. Super old. It’s the city’s most elderly street, its limestone buildings bellied up against the cobblestone pavers since 1855. “If the spirits aren’t there,” says Curt Hansen, “where are they?” Hansen’s a guide for the Real Ghost Tours of St. Anthony Main, Minnesota’s only year-round ghost tour outfit. On Friday and Saturday nights, he escorts the curious along the “Spirit River,” a metaphysical subway line that tour organizers believe carries entities beneath the buildings on Main. But ask him nicely, and he’ll give you a bonus spook: an investigation of the shadowy green spaces beneath the Hennepin and Third Avenue bridges. That’s where the real action is.

A few years ago, he snapped some photos of the dark tunnel where a tailrace enters the Pillsbury A Mill. The images revealed hundreds of “white bats”—spectral beings, bursting from the tunnel in a murder of avian frenzy. Why so much death? Hansen notes that when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers came to Minneapolis, in the 1950s and 1960s, to construct two sets of locks at the lower end of the falls, they destroyed the old Spirit Island—a body of land used as a burial ground by Native Americans. Bad juju.

Then, too: “There have been hundreds of suicides off the Third Avenue bridge. There were four last year. Every time they take a body out of the water, the shore line lights up with EVP”—electronic voice phenomenon—“for two to three weeks.”

 Washington Street Bridge, Minneapolis

Washington Street Bridge was built in the latter half of the 1960s spanning the Mississippi River and connecting the East and West bank campuses of the University of Minnesota. The bridge has two decks, the bottom for vehicles and the top for pedestrians and cyclists. The bridge is something of a hotspot for suicides and is now said to be haunted by the spirits of those who jumped to their death including professor John Berryman who committed suicide there in 1972. Students crossing the bridge say they often hear phantom footsteps at night and feel as though someone is watching them from the shadows.

Wabasha Street Caves

During the prohibition era, the Wabasha Street Caves in St. Paul were said to host a number of famous figures including John Dillinger and Ma Baker when they were used as a speakeasy. However, not everyone left the caves alive. It is said that the caves are now haunted by the spirits of three gangsters who were murdered in a back room and buried under the cement floors. The owner has frequently encountered men in 20s style attire as well as strange mists floating through the halls. There is also said to be a ghostly bar tender who will refill empty wine glasses.  Others have spotted the apparition of a madam known as Nina Clifford who appears wearing period dress.


Riverside Cemetery

Visit Appleton, Wisconsin's Riverside Cemetery during a full moon and you might see one of its historic tombstones ooze blood. Located on an isolated wooded bluff, the grave is the final resting site of Kate (Kitty) Blood, the daughter of an influential 19th-century settler who has been the subject of many a bloody tale. According to one legend, Blood murdered her husband and children with an axe before killing herself—but that can't be true, because her spouse, George W. Miller, outlived her by 42 years, as you can see right on her tombstone. Another account says that Blood's husband murdered her, and yet other speculative accounts have her pegged as a witch. The real-life Blood died in 1874, reportedly from tuberculosis, at age 23, and Appleton's community mourned her loss. Blood's remote grave and evocative maiden name likely played a part in the formation of these spooky tales. Today, they play such a large part in Appleton's historic lore that a local grocery store has even sold tombstone-shaped cookies with Blood's name on them.

Mineral Point Woods

Mineral Point has been plagued with weird activity for years. Not only was it the scene of the Mineral Point Vampire sightings in 1981, but it was also the area around where the Ridgeway Phantom was reported in the late 1800's. The phantom was named for the small crossroads town of Ridgeway and took many forms, frightening travelers as a headless man, an old woman, a ball of light and a number of spectral animals. The phantom appeared from nowhere and attacked passersby, until it came to the point that no one would travel the Ridge Road between Mineral Point and Blue Mounds alone... or unarmed. The origins of the ghost were traced back to 1840 when two young men were murdered at McKillip's Saloon in Ridgeway. A group of local toughs burned one boy to death in the fireplace and the other froze to death while trying to escape from town. Some believe that the Ridgeway Phantom departed when the town burned down in 1910... but others believe the spirit is still out there, lurking in the woods near Mineral Point!

Devil’s Lake

You’d expect that in the Devil’s Lake region, we’d have a good selection of ghostly tales to tell. We do. The most well-known story tells of a hitchhiker dressed in jeans and wearing an old army jacket walking along highway 12 on the south-west side of town. If you pass him along the highway, he’ll reappear somewhere further down the road. If you stop to offer him a lift, he’ll simply disappear  

And, okay…this one isn’t an outdoors-based haunting, but we love hearing about the strange happenings right near where we live and work!  

Pfister Hotel

If you had to pick a building that strikes fear into the heart of many MLB players, it probably wouldn't be a fancy hotel in Milwaukee. Still, The Pfister (where players stay when on the road in MKE) is notorious for being a haunting hot spot in the city. Players are not shy about retelling their experiences, like the most recent example when a number of Cardinals all slept in the same room after seeing a floating torso apparition in their rooms. Though the hotel doesn't exactly trumpet the fact that it's full of ghosts, it's well known that if you stay there -- MLB player or not -- you're pretty likely to experience something unexplained.

C & M