Marquette County indubitably has an abundance of events, activities, and places to explore year round. So it’s no surprise that we’ve got Halloween covered for all persons and ages. But aside from the annual Halloween festivities that take place downtown, there’s other more unearthly sites and phenomenon to dig up for the thrill-seeking types. And if that’s not your thing, then we don’t recommend checking out, or in to these 5 places.
While some of the following hauntings are contested—and others held as an absolute fact by those who have lived and experienced them—what can’t be argued is that Marquette County is home to a number of eerie places, places that incite our deepest curiosities and give us the thrill of something ultimately unknown. Whether haunted or not, these five places will give Marquette County visitors a glimpse at an era past—not to mention a good scare.
One of the more unknown haunts in Marquette County, the site of the former Morgan Heights Sanatorium on County Road 492 has lost a bit of its allure since the demolition of the main building in the early 2000s. However, a chilling feeling remains on the grounds, and those who live in the remaining buildings (such as the nurse’s quarters, which has since been turned into a residential home) are sure of the presence of some of the hospital’s former patients.
Opened in 1911, the sanatorium served as the only tuberculosis center in the region. It was shut down in the middle of the century for lacking much of the medical technology and facilities that had become a standard for the time.
The only specific story to have come of the old sanatorium is that of a malpractice case — in which a surgical tube was accidentally left in a patient, who subsequently died days later — the property has an undeniable eeriness, and countless property owners and renters in the vicinity have reported ghostly happenings, including the presence of a man in a flannel shirt hanging around in the basement of one of the homes, according to a 2008 story in The Mining Journal.
George Prior, the original keeper of the Big Bay Point Lighthouse, is said to haunt the building after his suicide in the woods nearby the present day bed and breakfast. Prior moved to Big Bay in the late 1890s, arriving at the new Big Bay Point light by boat with this family. A few months later, his son took a fall down a set of stairs, sustaining injuries that were beyond the reach of what local hospital could help with. When his son died a few days later, Prior decided to take his own life, doing so just a few hundred yards from the lighthouse, which is now said to be haunted by his anguished ghost. For a bit more UP history while in the area, visitors could also treat themselves to dinner at the Lumberjack Tavern, which was home to the UP’s most famous homicide, as well as the film adaptation (Anatomy of a Murder) that resulted from it.
3. Old Town, Negaunee
Though hauntings have never been officially reported at the site of Old Town Negaunee, the massive hunk of land to the west of modern Negaunee has a storied history, with the skeletal remains of the bustling mining town to boot.
With massive mining operations taking place in “Old Town” from the mid-1800s until the early 1900s, the very ground that the town was built on began to crumble. The mines had begun to cave, eating up sheds and outlying buildings before it was ultimately decided that Negaunee — built quite literally on the iron ore beneath the feet of its residents — would have to relocate. Homes were either demolished or transported by semi to the north and east end of town, and by the late 1950s, nothing remained of Old Town.
But the best part about Old Town? Besides a few fenced-off caving grounds from the iron mines that formerly dotted the area, it’s entirely open to the public. Streets, sidewalks and even stairwells leading to nonexistent homes and neighborhoods lay barren and overgrown with moss and brush. Mountain bike and hiking trails course through the former community, taking visitors on a moving tour of what was once the most vibrant mining town in the Central Upper Peninsula. And while visitors aren’t likely to run into any mining ghosts or early residents, the Old Town area has all the eeriness one could possibly need, particularly in late October when the leaves have fallen, the howling wind pushing them about the abandoned streets and cement foundations of an early community built on iron.
4. The Lilac Room, Landmark Inn, Marquette Mi
The Landmark Inn is one of the most distinguished hotels in downtown Marquette, known for its grandeur exterior and lavish decorum. Previously known as the Northland Inn, the hotel was once a popular social hub proceeding its debut in January of 1930. And atop its conspicuous opulence, and Lake Superior views, the Landmark, is proclaimed to be haunted.
Cloaked in the corner of the sixth floor, lies the Lilac Room. A room that sends guests into a cold sweat, rather than a peaceful rest. The story goes that one day the Lilac Lady’s lover set sail on the shores of Lake Superior, never to be seen again. After he was declared disappeared, the Lilac Lady hung herself in the room in her own desolate despair.
It’s been said that the Lilac Lady still lingers in her recurrent room, waiting for her sailor sweetheart to return from sea. Hotel employees have heard an abundance of accounts and sightings from guests, and switchboard operators alike. She is said to be flaunting a floral gown while still harboring a heavy heart.
After the first Catholic settlers found their way to the Marquette area, a Catholic cemetery was established near the intersection of County Road 553 and Pioneer Road in west Marquette. Tombstones in the cemetery dated to the mid-1850s, and because of its status as a “free burial ground”, it was the chosen burial site for numerous young women who had died in childbirth, as well as many children younger than four years old, according to an article in The Mining Journal. The cemetery, however, only lasted until the turn of the century, when the headstones and some of the bodies were moved to the Holy Cross Catholic Cemeteries on Wright Street. Not all of the bodies were able to be found, however, and those that remain have been the cause of some commotion, including occasional shouting and sobbing, according to those living nearby. The cemetery is little more than a sign and a path in the woods now, since most of the tombstones were removed in the early 1900s, though one small cross remains, marking the burial site of a farmer who owned land nearby.