Everyone knows about the Bermuda Triangle, if not the specifics, at least the general idea. Weird triangle in the middle of an ocean where unexplainable shit happens. But fewer people have heard of the similar, though less catchily named, triangles of misfortune in other areas.
Having lived in Michigan all my life, I’m more than fairly familiar with most of the state lore. Honest to God, you don’t know terror until you’re sitting around a campfire discussing The Dogman and knowing in the back of your mind that there is a long trek through the woods back to your car. And, like most Michiganders, I’m a giant-ass fan of being in the water. I grew up in a town right on Lake Huron, and now I live just a few towns over from Lake Michigan, and yet I’ve never heard of the Lake Michigan Triangle, until just recently.
Lake Michigan is the deadliest of the five Great Lakes, due in part to its 300+ mile long shoreline causing two dangerous types of currents (rip and longshore). After living here for just under ten years, I’ve heard of a lot of accidents happening in the water, and after taking a minute to reflect on it, I’m surprised by the number of people even a hermit like me knows who have lost someone to the lake. Still, none of these deaths have been exotic enough to attribute any sort of paranormal phenomenon…but then again, they weren’t far enough out to take place in the triangle.
The Lake Michigan Triangle stretches from Ludington, Michigan southbound to Benton Harbor, and all the way over to Manitowoc, Wisconsin. By all accounts, the first strange report within the triangle was the disappearance of the schooner Thomas Hume in 1891. The vessel left port in Chicago for a return voyage to Muskegon, Michigan. En route, the crew of seven encountered a storm, and neither the crew nor the ship was ever seen again. The owners of the ship, lumber barons Charles Hackley and Thomas Hume, offered a $300 reward for any information on the lost vessel, believing the small crew may have stolen, repainted, and renamed it. The reward was never claimed, and no debris was ever washed ashore as would be expected had the ship sunk in the storm. Although a well preserved shipwreck was discovered in 2006 and believed to be the Thomas Hume due to the matching dimensions and similar working history based on recovered artifacts, no registration number was ever found and it cannot be said with absolute certainty that the wreck is that of the ill-fated Thomas Hume.
One of the more famous cases from The Triangle is the disappearance of Captain George Donner. After picking up a load of coal in Erie, Pennsylvania, Donner’s freighter, MacFarland, was traveling through the dangerous ice filled lakes when Captain Donner went missing. The captain had been resting in his cabin after having guided his vessel through a particularly treacherous course, and left instructions to awaken him when the ship neared its destination. However, when the second mate went to awaken the captain, there was no trace of him in his room or anywhere else on the ship. Reportedly, MacFarland was in the Triangle in the time the captain is said to have disappeared. To this day, no one knows what happened to Captain Donner.
And the mysteries aren’t confined strictly to watercraft. In the 1950s, a flight from New York carrying 55 passengers and 3 crew members disappeared over Lake Michigan en route to Seattle. Some human remains and debris were found washed ashore, but the aircraft itself was never recovered, although there was an extensive search and there is an annual search conducted by the Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates.
Besides disappearances of ships, planes, and people, there’s another mysterious aspect of The Lake Michigan Triangle. In 2007, Northwestern Michigan College professor Mark Holley discovered a North American Stonehenge.
In Lake Michigan.
I know, right?
The stones were found 40 feet below the surface of the lake. Some are arranged in a circle, and one appears, according to Holley, to have a carving of a mastadon–an animal that went extinct approximately 10,000 years ago. What’s that, you say? You haven’t heard of this until just now? Yeah, that’s because experts can’t confirm the authenticity of the findings until they can see it for themselves, and apparently not a lot of qualified experts dive. Pity, huh?
Other stories from The Triangle include two-pound ice chunks falling onto a tugboat from what crew members described as a “cloudless sky” in 1883. In 1921, the wreckage of the schooner Rosa Belle was discovered in pieces, leading the discoverers to believe it had collided with another ship. Strangely, no other vessel reported damage anywhere near as severe as would be expected for the level of destruction inflicted upon the Rosa Belle. All 11 souls aboard, crew and passengers, had been members of the cult known as the House of David, which makes it slightly more or less tragic, depending on how you look at it.
Obviously a huge number of ships and planes have passed through the Lake Michigan Triangle without so much as a scratch, and skeptics scoff at the mere idea of a tragic triangle, Bermuda or otherwise. Still, it’s fun to talk about, right? And all protestations of logic and the like are of little comfort to the Hokansan family, who were onboard Flight 2501. Or the crew of the Rosa Belle. Or Captain Donner. And who knows what the next strange even attributed to The Lake Michigan Triangle might be, or when it might happen?