For more than a century, Michigan’s Great Lakes shorelines have been protected by more than 120 lighthouses. Over the years, nearly one-fifth of those have documented stories of ghosts and other paranormal activity within the towering walls of these monumental structures.

Keepers like James S. Donahue, William Robinson and Frank Kimball racked up an accumulative 114 years on the job at their respective lights (South Haven, Whitehall and Fort Gratiot), and their spirits simply feel more at peace at the lighthouses they once called home. Those who encounter them today are comforted by the fact that they’re still tending the towers in the afterlife.

Children like Cecilia Carlson Endress (Marquette Harbor Lighthouse) and her daughter, Bertha Endress Rollo (Whitefish Point) both grew up within the lighthouse service. Those who encounter them today say they gravitate toward women and children who visit their Upper Peninsula lighthouses.

John Herman is as much a prankster today as he was during his 13 years at Waugoshance Shoal Lighthouse near Mackinaw City—a beacon in a state of ruins after repeated target bombing during World War II. Even in the afterlife, Joseph Townshend at Seul Choix Point Lighthouse in Gulliver enjoys puffing on a cigar; visitors to his light frequently claim to catch a whiff of the pungent odor the stogies emit.

And what about the light at Old Presque Isle that shines even though the beacon was decommissioned decades ago? Lorraine Parris attributes such activity—and so much more—to her late husband George, who tended the light with her from 1972 until his passing in 1992.

These and other ghost stories from 13 of Michigan’s historic beacons can be found in the book “Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses” published earlier this year from The History Press/Arcadia Publishing (written by this author). To order an autographed copy, visit

For more information from the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association, visit

Photo courtesy Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum



Dianna Stampfler has been a foodie since the seventh grade, when her parents managed a supper club in her hometown of Plainwell. Today, she lives in Walloon Lake and enjoys sipping and savoring her way around the state of Michigan.

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