The world’s largest group of freshwater lakes, the Great Lakes are definitely fascinating: formed 14,000 years ago from retreating ice sheets, they contain 84 percent of North America’s surface fresh water and are important geologically, hydro
logically, ecologically, and historically.
Academic considerations aside, though, the lakes are also the focus of some pretty fantastic legends—many of which have never really been fully explained. If you’re looking for some spooky stories to tell around the campfire this season, look no further than our own mysterious Great Lakes.
The Lake Michigan Triangle
You don’t need to travel to Bermuda for weird things to happen to your boat or plane—looks like Lake Michigan has that covered. An area that stretches from Ludington to Benton Harbor, Michigan and to Manitowoc, Wisconsin forms the Lake Michigan Triangle, which has been implicated in the disappearance of ships, people and airplanes alike since 1891, when a schooner called the Thomas Hume and its crew disappeared without a trace. In 1937, the captain of the O.M. McFarland, George Donner, retired to his cabin after a long night guiding the ship through icy water and subsequently could not be found—ever again. Finally, the most recent mysterious tragedy involves Northwestern Airlines flight 2501, which vanished on its way to Minneapolis after changing its course to fly over Lake Michigan. Massive searches by the Coast Guard turned up a blanket from the flight, but nothing else.
The Black Dog of Lake Erie
This creepy story takes place in the Welland Canal, where a ship’s mascot—a large black Newfoundland dog—fell overboard and was crushed by the gate of a canal lock. Perhaps angered by the crew’s inability or unwillingness to rescue him, the black dog was then said to haunt them at night with endless baying howls. The black dog is said to appear on ships that are about to get into trouble, appearing on deck (or climbing aboard from the water), crossing the ship and leaping off the other side. The dog is linked to the wreck of the Mary Jane in Lake Erie in 1881, and has even travelled to other Great Lakes, being sighted on doomed ships on both Lake Ontario and Lake Michigan.