The Lake Michigan Triangle
We're going back to the creepy, mysterious, and strange this week. We're heading up to Lake Michigan, where tons of ships and planes have gone missing, and other odd things have occurred in what is known as the Lake Michigan triangle. Full disclosure, being from Ohio, the only reason we are covering this is that it's not the actual state of Michigan, just a lake that was unfortunately cursed with the same name. So we'll only discuss the state if we absolutely have to. We kid, of course.. Or do we… At any rate, this should be another interesting, fun, historically jam-packed episode full of craziness! So without further ado, let's head to lake Michigan!
So first off, let's learn a little about Lake Michigan itself because, you know, we like to learn you guys some stuff!
Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is the second-largest of the Great Lakes by volume and the third-largest by surface area after Lake Superior and Lake Huron. Lake Michigan is the largest lake by area in one country. Hydrologically Michigan and Huron are the same body of water (sometimes called Lake Michigan-Huron) but are typically considered distinct. Counted together, it is the largest body of fresh water in the world by surface area. The Mackinac Bridge is generally considered the dividing line between them. Its name is derived from the Ojibwa Indian word mishigami, meaning large lake. We've also seen the title translated as "big water," so honestly, we're not sure of the translation, but those are the two we see most often. Lake Michigan touches Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. According to the New World Encyclopedia, approximately 12 million people live along the shores of Lake Michigan. Major port cities include Chicago, Illinois (population: 2.7 million); Milwaukee, Wisconsin (600,000); Green Bay, Wisconsin (104,000); and Gary, Indiana (80,000). Water temperatures on Lake Michigan make it to the 60s in July and August and can sometimes make it into the 70s when air temperatures have been in the 90s for several successive days.
The water of Lake Michigan has an unusual circulatory pattern — it resembles the traffic flow in a suburban cul-de-sac — and moves very slowly. Winds and resulting waves keep Lake Michigan from freezing over, but it has been 90 percent frozen on many occasions. Ocean-like swells, especially during the winter, can result in drastic temperature changes along the coast, shoreline erosion, and difficult navigation. The lake's average water depth is 279 feet (85 meters), and its maximum depth is 925 feet (282 meters).
Marshes, tallgrass prairies, savannas, forests, and sand dunes that can reach several hundred feet provide excellent habitats for all types of wildlife on Lake Michigan. Trout, salmon, walleye, and smallmouth bass fisheries are prevalent on the lake. The lake is also home to crawfish, freshwater sponges, and sea lamprey, a metallic violet eel species.
The lake is also home to a wide range of bird populations, including water birds such as ducks, Freddy the fox in bird costume, geese, swans, crows, robins, and bald eagles. Predatory birds such as hawks and vultures are also prevalent on the lake. This is mainly due to the wealth of wildlife to feast upon. The pebble-shaped Petoskey stone, a fossilized coral, is unique to the northern Michigan shores of Lake Michigan and is the state stone.
Today, the formation that is recognized as Lake Michigan began about 1.2 billion years ago when two tectonic plates were ripped apart, creating the Mid-Continent Rift. Some of the earliest human inhabitants of the Lake Michigan region were the Hopewell Native Americans. However, their culture declined after 800 AD, and for the next few hundred years, the area was the home of peoples known as the Late Woodland Native Americans. In the early 17th century, when western European explorers made their first forays into the region, they encountered descendants of the Late Woodland Native Americans: the historic Chippewa; Menominee; Sauk; Fox; Winnebago; Miami; Ottawa; and Potawatomi peoples. The French explorer Jean Nicolet is believed to have been the first European to reach Lake Michigan, possibly in 1634 or 1638. In early European maps of the region, the name of Lake Illinois has also been found to be that of "Michigan," named for the Illinois Confederation of tribes.
The Straits of Mackinac were an important Native American and fur trade route. Located on the southern side of the straits is the town of Mackinaw City, Michigan, the site of Fort Michilimackinac, a reconstructed French fort founded in 1715, and on the northern side is St. Ignace, Michigan, the site of a French Catholic mission to the Indians, founded in 1671. In 1673, Jacques Marquette, Louis Jolliet, and their crew of five Métis voyageurs followed Lake Michigan to Green Bay and up the Fox River, nearly to its headwaters, searching for the Mississippi River. By the late 18th century, the eastern end of the straits was controlled by Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island, a British colonial and early American military base and fur trade center founded in 1781.
With the advent of European exploration into the area in the late 17th century, Lake Michigan became used as part of a line of waterways leading from the Saint Lawrence River to the Mississippi River and thence to the Gulf of Mexico. French coureurs des Bois and voyageurs established small ports and trading communities, such as Green Bay, on the lake during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. In the 19th century, Lake Michigan was integral to the development of Chicago and the Midwestern United States west of the lake. For example, 90% of the grain shipped from Chicago traveled by ships east over Lake Michigan during the antebellum years. The volume rarely fell below 50% after the Civil War, even with the significant expansion of railroad shipping.
The first person to reach the deep bottom of Lake Michigan was J. Val Klump, a scientist at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in 1985. Klump reached the bottom via submersible as part of a research expedition. In 2007, a row of stones paralleling an ancient shoreline was discovered by Mark Holley, professor of underwater archeology at Northwestern Michigan College. This formation lies 40 feet (12 m) below the lake's surface. One of the stones is said to have a carving resembling a mastodon. The construction needed more study before it could be authenticated. The warming of Lake Michigan was the subject of a 2018 report by Purdue University. Since 1980, steady increases in obscure surface temperature have occurred in each decade. This is likely to decrease native habitat and adversely affect native species' survival, including game fish.
Fun fact… Lake Michigan has its own coral reef! Lake Michigan waters near Chicago are also home to a reef, although it has been dead for many years. Still, it is an exciting feature of the lake, and scientists at Shedd Aquarium are interested in learning more about its habitat and the lifeforms it supports. Dr. Philip Willink is a senior research biologist at the Shedd Aquarium who has conducted research at Morgan Shoal to find out what kind of life there is and what the geology is like. "Morgan Shoal is special because it is so close to so many people. It is only a few hundred yards from one of the most famous and busiest streets in Chicago (Lake Shore Drive)," he said in an interview.
"Now that more people know it is there, more people can make a connection with it, and they can begin to appreciate the geological processes that formed it and the plants and animals that call it home. It is a symbol of how aquatic biodiversity can survive in an urban landscape."
"I hope people continue to study and learn from Morgan Shoal. We need to keep figuring out how this reef interacts with the waves and currents of Lake Michigan," he said. "We need to continue studying how the underwater habitat promotes biodiversity."
Passengers, have you heard about the Stonehenge under lake Michigan? Well, in 2007, underwater archeologist Mark Holley was scanning for shipwrecks on the bottom of Lake Michigan's Grand Traverse Bay. Instead, he stumbled on a line of stones thought to be constructed by ancient humans. They believe that this building, similar to Stonehenge, is about 9000 years old, but interestingly, on one of the stones, there is a carving in the form of a mastodon, which died out more than 10,000 years ago. The exact coordinates of the find are still kept secret – this condition was put by local Indian tribes who do not want the influx of tourists and curiosity seekers on their land. The boulder with the markings is 3.5 to 4 feet high and about 5 feet long. Photos show a surface with numerous fissures. Some may be natural while others appear of human origin, but those forming what could be the petroglyph stood out, Holley said. Viewed together, they suggest the outlines of a mastodon-like back, hump, head, trunk, tusk, triangular-shaped ear, and parts of legs, he said.
"We couldn't believe what we were looking at," said Greg MacMaster, president of the underwater preserve council.
Specialists shown pictures of the boulder holding the mastodon markings have asked for more evidence before confirming the markings are an ancient petroglyph, said Holley. "They want to actually see it," he said. But, unfortunately, he added, "Experts in petroglyphs generally don't dive, so we're running into a little bit of a stumbling block there."
Featured on ancient aliens below clip:
Stonehenge in Northern Michigan - traverse city skip to 4:40
Soooo what's up with that… Michigan Stonehenge? Well, maybe not…
Sadly, much of the information out there is incorrect. For example, there is not a henge associated with the site, and the individual stones are relatively small compared to what most people think of as European standing stones. It should be clearly understood that this is not a megalith site like Stonehenge. This label is placed on the site by non-visiting individuals from the press who may have been attempting to generate sensation about the story. The site in Grand Traverse Bay is best described as a long line of stones that is over a mile in length.
Dr. John O'Shea from the University of Michigan has been working on a broadly similar structure in Lake Huron. He has received an NSF grant to research his site and thinks it may be a prehistoric driveline for herding caribou. This site is well published, and you can find quite a bit of information on it on the internet. The area in Grand Traverse Bay may possibly have served a similar function to the one found in Lake Huron. It certainly offers the same potential for research. Unfortunately, however, state politics in previous years have meant that we have only been able to obtain limited funding for research, and as a result, little progress has been made.
Honestly, even if it's not a Stonehenge but still possibly dating back 10,000 years, that's pretty dang terrific either way. Hopefully, they can figure out what's really going on down there!
So that's pretty sweet! Ok with that brief history and stuff out of the way, let's get into the fun stuff!
The Lake Michigan Triangle is a section of Lake Michigan considered especially treacherous to those venturing through it. It stretches from Manitowoc, Wisconsin, to Ludington, Michigan, before heading south to Benton Harbor, Michigan.
It was first proposed by Charles Berlitz. A proponent of the Bermuda Triangle, he felt Lake Michigan was governed by similar forces. This theory was presented to the public in aviator Jay Gourley's book, The Great Lakes Triangle. In it, he stated: "The Great Lakes account for more unexplained disappearances per unit area than the Bermuda Triangle."
The Lake Michigan Triangle is believed to have caused numerous shipwrecks and aerial disappearances over the years. It's also been the scene of unexplained phenomena, from mysterious ice blocks falling from the sky to balls of fire and strange, hovering lights. This has led many to believe extraterrestrials are drawn to the area or perhaps home to a time portal.
Let's start with the disappearances. The first ship that traveled the upper Great Lakes was the 17th-century brigandine, Le Griffon. However, this maiden voyage did not end well. The shipwrecked when it encountered a violent storm while sailing on Lake Michigan.
The first occurrence in the Lake Michigan Triangle was recorded in 1891. The Thomas Hume was a schooner built in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, in 1870. The ship was christened as H.C. Albrecht in honor of its first owner, Captain Harry Albrecht. In 1876, the vessel was sold to Captain Welch from Chicago. In the following year, the ship was bought by Charles Hackley, a lumber baron who owned the Hackley-Hume Lumber Mill on Muskegon Lake. The boat was then renamed as the Thomas Hume in 1883, after Hackley's business partner. The Hume would make many successful trips across Lake Michigan until May 21, 1891, when it disappeared, along with its crew of seven sailors. After that, not even a trace of the boat was ever found. The Hume was on a return trip from Chicago to Muskegon, having just dropped off a load of lumber. The ship remained lost until Taras Lysenko, a diver with A&T Recovery out of Chicago, discovered the wreck in 2005. Valerie van Heest, a Lake Michigan shipwreck hunter and researcher who helped identify the wreckage, and Elizabeth Sherman, a maritime author and great-granddaughter of the schooner's namesake, presented the discovery at the Great Lakes conference at the Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum. The last trip of the schooner began like many others it had completed for two of Muskegon County's prominent lumbermen, Thomas Hume and Charles Hackley. It took a load of lumber to Chicago in May of 1891.
The unloaded vessel left to return to Muskegon, riding empty and light alongside one of the company's other schooners, the Rouse Simmons, which years later would go on to legendary status as the Christmas Tree Ship.
Sherman relayed the history of the Thomas Hume's final moments. She said the two vessels encountered a squall, not a major storm or full gale that took many Great Lakes ships.
"It made the captain of the Rouse Simmons nervous enough to turn back to Chicago," she told conference members.
The Thomas Hume continued on, and no signs of the vessel, the captain, nor the six-man crew were ever seen again. Sherman said Hackley and Hume called for a search of other ports and Lake Michigan, but nothing was found, not even debris.
That's when the wild theories began. Sherman said one of the most far-fetched was that the captain sailed to another port, painted the Thomas Hume, and sailed the vessel under a different name. Another theory was a large steamer ran down the schooner, and the steamer's captain swore his crew to secrecy.
Hackley and Hume put up a $300 reward, which seemed to squelch that theory because no one stepped forward.
The wreck remains in surprisingly good shape. The video shot by the dive group of the Thomas Hume shows the hull intact, the three masts laying on the deck, the ship's riggings, and a rudder that is in quality shape. The lifeboat was found inside the sunken vessel, presumably sucked into the opening during the sinking.
So what happened? Simple explanation… Maybe a storm or squall. Better explanation… Probably aliens… Or lake monster… Yeah, probably that.
Another mysterious incident believers in the Triangle seem to reference is the Rose Belle. From their archives, the news bulletin for the day reads: "October 30, 1921: the schooner Rosabelle, loaded with lumber, left High Island bound for Benton Harbor and apparently capsized in a gale on Lake Michigan. She was found awash 42 miles from Milwaukee, with no sign of the crew. After she drifted to 20 miles from Kenosha, the Cumberland towed her into Racine harbor. A thorough search of the ship turned up no sign of the crew. She was purchased by H & M Body Corp., beached 100 feet offshore, and attempts were made to drag her closer to shore north of Racine. The corp. planned to remove her lumber."
According to the Wisconsin Historical Society's Maritime Preservation Program, the Rosabelle was a small two-masted schooner and was used to bring supplies to High Island for the House of David. It was 100 feet long, with a beam of 26 feet.
Despite appearing to have been involved in a collision, there were no other shipwrecks or reports of an accident. What's more, the 11-person crew was nowhere to be found.
We're gonna go with aliens again.
Mysterious disappearances have continued to occur along the lake's waters. For example, on April 28, 1937, Captain George R. Donner of the freighter O.M. McFarland went to rest in his cabin after hours of navigating his crew through icy waters. As the ship approached its destination at Port Washington, Wisconsin, a crewmember went to wake him up, only to find him missing and the door locked from the inside. A search of the ship turned up no clues, and Donner hasn't been seen since.
Over the years, shipwrecks stacked up, drawing attention to this region of Lake Michigan. Then, during the blizzard of November 1940, three massive freighters and two fishing tug boats sank off the coast of Pentwater, Mich., well inside this triangular boundary. Wrecks of the three freighters have been found, but the two tugboats have yet to be discovered. Whether the wreckages are lost or found, experts find it highly unusual that five ships – killing a total of 64 sailors – all sank on the same day so close together.
But did aren't the only thing that had disappeared here.
Theories surrounding UFOs and extraterrestrials roaming the skies of the Lake Michigan Triangle are spurred on by the mysterious disappearance of Northwest Airlines flight 2501. The plane was traveling from New York to Seattle, with a stop in Minneapolis, on June 23, 1950, when it seemingly disappeared out of the sky.
At 11:37 p.m. that evening, its pilot requested a descent from 3,500 to 2,500 feet due to an electrical storm. The request was denied, and minutes later, the plane disappeared from radar. Despite a massive search effort, only a blanket bearing the Northwest Airlines logo indicated the plane had gone into the water.
As days passed, partial remains began to wash ashore across Michigan, but the plane never resurfaced. According to two police officers near the scene, there had been a strange red light hovering over the water just two hours after the plane disappeared. This has led some to theorize it was abducted by aliens. However, their reason for taking the aircraft remains a mystery.
See, told you… Aliens!
Do you need more proof of aliens? Here ya go
Steven Kubacki was a 23-year-old student at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. On February 20, 1978, he was on a solo cross-country skiing trip near Saugatuck, Michigan, when he disappeared.
The next day, snowmobilers found his equipment abandoned, and police located his footprints on the ice. The way they abruptly ended suggested Kubacki had fallen through the ice and died of either hypothermia or by drowning. Seems pretty cut and dry, eh... Well, you're fucking fucking wrong, Jack! The mystery appeared all but solved until May 5, 1979, when Kubacki showed up in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Fifteen months after seemingly disappearing into the icy depths of Lake Michigan, he found himself lying in the grass, some 700 miles away.
Kubacki told reporters he had no memory of the past year and a half. However, when he awoke, he was wearing weird clothes, and his backpack contained random maps. This led him to believe he'd been traveling. He also had a T-shirt from a Wisconsin marathon, which he explained by saying, "I feel like I've done a lot of running."
The location of Kubacki's disappearance has led many to suggest he was yet another victim of the Lake Michigan Triangle. While some don't believe him regarding his supposed amnesia, others feel an alien abduction is a reason behind his disappearance and lack of memory.