Mystery of the Michigan Triangle

9:35 AM, Nov 8, 2007   |    comments
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Grand Rapids - The lore of Lake Michigan isn't limited to its beautiful beaches and open water. It has a mysterious side, that's known as the Lake Michigan Triangle. The triangle is said to have similar characteristics of the Bermuda Triangle and is said to be a place of ghost ships, strange disappearances and even UFO sightings. Lake Michigan draws visitors with its beauty, tranquility and magnificent sunsets. It's those same qualities that have drawn sailors and passengers to travel her waters - but not all have returned home. "There's been some strange disappearances out there, there's been many ships that have been lost that haven't been found." Bill Wangemann is a historian from Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He's spent a lifetime gathering tales about the Lake Michigan triangle. An area that is said to stretch from Ludington to Manitowoc, Wisconsin to Benton Harbor and back to Ludington. "There were stories of ghost ships one, of them went by the name of the Benochburn that for many years after it sunk sailors all up and down the lakes and even in this area reported seeing it," says Wangemann. But the legend doesn't end with sunken ships; nearly 40 planes have disappeared over Lake Michigan too. Probably the most famous is northwest airlines flight 2501 that took off from New York City headed for Minneapolis in June of 1950 and plunged into Lake Michigan just off Benton Harbor. No one survived. Then, there are the sightings of UFO's, the most recent ones happening this year. Witnesses captured strange video of a flying object near Chicago in January. In fact there have been so many sightings of strange objects and phantom planes that the Federal Aviation Administration created a special lake reporting service to catalog the reported sightings. And yet still, thousands make the journey through the Triangle every season. Captain Kevin Fitch of the Badger Ferry has been sailing Lake Michigan waters for nearly 30 years, "I've heard of it, I don't put a lot of faith in it but I have heard of it. Little bits and pieces here and there." He says in the thousand trips he's made across the lake he's never seen anything strange. "I can't think of anything that didn't have an explanation of some kind." So Captain Fitch continues to guide the ferry through what Wangemann says is considered the most dangerous part of the triangle. "There's dozen's of these stories about different things that have occurred out there and people that have been lost and sailors that have disappeared off of ships and some people claim that there is something supernatural going on out on the lake," says Wangemann. One of the most famous stories of disappearing crew members includes the freighter O.M. McFarland. In April 1937, Captain George Donnor was heading to Port Washington, Wisconsin, "He decided to retire to his cabin for a nap, and he gave orders to be aroused about 6pm. And they went to his cabin and he was gone. The story was the cabin was locked from the inside and nobody knows what happened to him till this day," says Wangemann. During the time of Captain Donnor's disappearance the McFarland was crossing through the nexus of the Lake Michigan triangle along the same course of the Badger Ferry. As the Badger Ferry continues on its journey, passengers are unaware of what might lurk in the deep lake waters. John Fangman: "I know there's a lot of mystery about the great lakes and legend and folklore." "So we should be on the watch for a loc ness monster out here? Ha! Ha," says traveler Diane Kyte. Well actually, you might want to. Bill Wangemann says there are some tails of sea monsters. "Many years ago there were people that swore they saw sea monsters on the shore here," says Wagemann. And some of the witness have quite a bit of credibility, "A Catholic priest went for a walk he saw this beast on the shore he said it was big and the color green," says Wangemann. Sea monsters, ghost ships, disappearing planes and crew members, unidentified flying objects. It's the making of a good science fiction movie or a good legend. Either way it certainly gives you something to think about as you look out onto Lake Michigan wondering what secrets she's keeping in her deep dark waters. You can read more about the Lake Michigan triangle on our website. We've linked other personal accounts, articles, and provided the name of Jay Gourley's 1977 book detailing incidents that allegedly occurred within the Lake Michigan Triangle. The Grand Rapids Public Library has set up a special section of books on Michigan mysteries, just visit any of the eight branches in the area.

Valerie Lego

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