Lake Michigan’s ‘Bermuda Triangle’ May Be Crazier Than The Real Thing
Lake Michigan is full of mysteries and some strange happenings. I recently wrote about its own Stonehenge up around Traverse City, strange rolling clouds have been seen coming ashore, rumors of sharks, multiple sightings of UFOs, and even the possibility of a "Monster of Lake Michigan."
So, it should come as no surprise, that our state's namesake lake has its own version of the Bermuda Triangle, full of sunken treasure, mysteries, and disappearances.
Where Is The Lake Michigan Triangle?
Specifically, the Triangle is situated over most of the Middle of the Lake. If you drew a line from Manitowoc, Wisconsin, across to Ludington, Michigan, straight south to Benton Harbor, and then back across the lake to Manitowoc, THAT is what is commonly known as the Lake Michigan Triangle.
What makes this part of the lake so mysterious and dangerous? Why not the lower parts of the lake, or even the thinner parts to the north, connecting Lakes Superior and Huron?
All great questions and the closest we can come to an answer, mainly only has to do with why so many shipwrecks happened in this area. As winds whip out of Canada, and across Lake Michigan, it kicks up waves. Some of the strongest, highest waves, have been recorded in this area of the lake, as they move south, and east onto the shores of Michigan.
It's why waters on the west side of Lake Michigan are typically calmer than those to the east.
The Triangle is mysterious, but SOME of what happens inside of it can partly be explained by the weather. For instance, the majority of shipwrecks recorded in the triangle are due to severe weather.
The Thomas Hume might be one of the most notorious ships to sink in the Triangle. Headed for her home port in Muskegon, the Hume disappeared in the Triangle on May 21st, 1891. The massive three-mast sail ship and her crew simply disappeared. It wasn't until 2006 that her possible wreckage was found.
It's a given that shipwrecks will happen in the open waters of Lake Michigan, and a book, "Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes: The Lake Michigan Triangle" has MOST of those wrecks categorized, and listed through the years.
It would seem like losing people and ships go hand in hand, but... not always. In the Lake Michigan Triangle, two instances stand out.
First, the crew of the Rosa Belle, which was headed on her final voyage from High Island, Michigan, to Benton Harbor - right through the heart of the Triangle. You can guess that the ship never made it. But it was finally found, drifting aimlessly in open water, and her entire crew was gone. Damage was found on the outside of the ship like it had been hit by something, but no other ships were in the area during her voyage.
And then, there's the mystery of Captain Donner. April 28, 1937, The McFarland Freighter was sailing through the ice and brought on a sleepless night for Captain George R. Donner. They entered open water in Lake Michigan, and Donner decided to take a break and get some sleep before docking in Port Washington, Wisconsin.
He told his crew to leave him be while he slept, and promptly locked himself in his cabin from the inside. The ship docked, and the crew attempted to wake Donner, but got no response from his cabin. After getting worried, they broke the door open, only to find... nothing. Captain Donner had completely disappeared, without a trace. There was no sign of him ever leaving his cabin.
Of course, the onset of air travel meant that flights would be crossing the Great Lakes, and inevitably, crashes would happen - especially in those early years of flight and aeronautic experimenting.
Northwest Orient Airlines, Flight 2501 was flying from New York to Seattle in June of 1950. Keep in mind, at this point, we were now using radar and radio technology to track planes and ships.
Flight 2501 radioed in a distress while flying over Lake Michigan, saying they had experienced "raging electric discharges in the air," and needed to drop to 2,500 feet. After that radio call, the plane disappeared from the radar and no evidence of it has ever been seen since that day.
There is also an unconfirmed report of two police officers identifying a strange red light hovering over the lake on that exact same day.
On to the weird stuff. Yes. MULTIPLE sightings of UFOS have been reported over the Lake Michigan Triangle. A recent episode of Unsolved Mysteries focused on the 1994 UFO outbreak, just to the west of Holland, and off the coast of Muskegon.
Those stories were all linked by common traits of the sightings, including color, shape, and distance of the lights seen overhead. One of the strangest details, though, was an NOAA employee, describing watching the UFOs on radar, hovering over the Lake, and then dispersing. Witnesses also say they saw at least one of the UFOs possibly pulling a column of water up into the ship from the lake.
It's a fun mystery to think about, how so much strange activity could happen in such a relatively small space. And most of the older legends and tales could probably be explained with modern technology. But you do have to wonder, why SO MANY strange things happen in this particular area of Lake Michigan.