The last days of October find the Keweenaw busy with Halloween fun. Folks around town are treated to spooky decorations in shop fronts, smiling scarecrows, and a community lively with anticipation for Halloween events and camaraderie. The surreal, warm autumn that brought us blazing fall color and bluebird days for fall adventuring begin to chill… the leaves fall, the winds bite a little more, and the skies cast grey. Beneath the laughter of Hallow’s Eve revelry, something stirs… The Copper Country is a place where history melds with the unknowable. Those that seek to experience the uncanny in the Keweenaw need not travel far…
The Calumet Theatre has been an icon of the Copper Country since the 1900s. Today, she still stands proudly in downtown Calumet. At night, the marquee twinkles brightly ushering attendees into the historic auditorium. But in the still of the magnificent theater… a chill passes through the air. Take a tour, and perhaps from the stage, you’ll catch a glimpse of a lone figure in the balcony. A regal woman, known to mouth the words to actors who have forgotten lines, might make herself known to you. This spectral actress was known in life as Madame Helena Modjeska, a Polish Shakespearean actress who excelled in tragic roles. In death, she steals behind unwitting patrons for one last encore…
Madame Helen Modjeska
When the sun sets in October, the night falls in a complete and endless black. If you’re lucky, a clear night affords the cold comfort of starlight, but don’t stray far from the campfire’s glow… at the edge of the woods you can hear the howls and yips of coyote, or at least you hope that’s what’s making that sound. Rumors long have swirled that a massive half-man, half-canine cryptid known as the Dogman hunts these Michigan Northwoods. From the U.P. to Lower Michigan, tales tell of lumberjacks harried by this creature… glowing eyes in the woods their only warning. Maybe carry a few Milk Bones on your nighttime outings…
Hidden behind one of the Keweenaw’s most beloved purveyors of minerals, the supernatural enthusiast will find The Vortex, which some claim is a nexus of healing energy and otherworldly forces. Mythologized by the Detroit Free Press and featured in a paranormal romance novel by Anna Durand, the twisted cedar grove behind Prospector’s Paradise in Allouez is said to attract “various witches, tourists, gypsies, and supernatural beings.”
A mural of the Vortex
When you’re touring the mines, have you heard a faint knocking? Whispered voices where there should be none? Seemingly misplaced an item or lost your way? Then you’ve met the Knockers. Fae creatures of Cornish legend, the Knockers are mischievous creatures who dwell in caves and wells. Cornish miners knew the Knockers also by their Celtic names- the bucca gwidden (good spirits), and the bucca dhu (their more sinister foil). Miners learned to heed the eerie sounds of the bucca – a quiet shaft meant there were no Knockers, and therefore safe. Wary miners left offerings for the Knockers – typically a portion of their daily pasty. So next time you are in the Keweenaw, consider saving a portion of pasty crust for the Knockers.
Known by some Copper Country locals as “Magnetic Hill”, the Tamarack Water Works Road has been known to create a bizarre illusion. At certain points along the road, if you shift your vehicle into neutral and take your foot off the brake, your car will seem to be pulled uphill. Some could explain the phenomena as a rare confluence of various landscape perspectives creating an optical illusion… but we know that there is an undeniable mystic force that draws people to the Keweenaw, and this might just be a nexus point where you can see it in action!
Singing Sands of Bete Grise
Located just past Lac La Belle, Michigan is a beautiful white sandy beach known as Bete Grise (French for “Grey Beast”). Local legend says that the pure white sand of this bay “sings” by pressing down with the palm of your hand, or “barks” when struck. This sound is said to be the voice of a Native American maiden who lost her lover to the Great Lakes and still calls to him from shore.
Local legend says the sand at Bete Grise beach "sing."
The sand is said to lose its magical singing power when removed from the beach, so make sure to plan a trip to Bete Grise and enjoy the magical singing sand while you are there.
Calumet Air Force Station
Located on Mount Horace Greeley, the Calumet Air Force Station was a cold war radar base that opened in the 1950's. The site sat abandoned for many years, but it is now owned by Open Skies Project, LLC, who is working to restore the property, preserve its history, and open it to the public.
The Calumet Air Force Base operated nine ground controlled interception towers.
On November 23, 1953, the Calumet Air Force Station assisted in an eerie event. U.S. Air Defense command noticed a blip on the radar where it shouldn't have been... an unidentified object in restricted air space over Lake Superior near Sault Ste Marie. An F-89 Scorpion Jet took off from the Kinross Air Force Base to investigate. The jet attempted to catch up to this mysterious object, and after 30 minutes, the two blips on the radar converged into one. At that point, the radar return from the F-89 reportedly "disappeared from the ground controlled interception station's radar scope." Read more about this unusual incident here. Be sure to book a tour with Open Skies Project to explore the old Calumet Air Force Station and learn more about it's history.
Spooky Season Events
Get dressed up and celebrate Halloween at Treat Street in Downtown Houghton! Shelden Ave will be closed off to allow all the little goblins and ghouls to safely trick-or-treat at our local businesses. Make sure to check out the Halloweenie Race & Costume Parade at 4PM at the Corner of Shelden Ave and Isle Royale Street!
Haunted Smelter Tours
Hosted by Michigan Tech Theatre, the haunted tours at the Quincy Smelter are sure to be a frightening good time! Visitors should expect jump scares, flickering and strobing lights, and loud sounds. Youth under 12 years old must be accompanied by an adult. All proceeds from this spooky event support the Quincy Mine Hoist Association.
Skeleton at Quincy Smelter Haunted Tour. (Photo courtesy of Michigan Tech)
Field of Terror at DesRochers Corn Maze
Enter at your own risk. The Field of Terror at DeSrochers Corn Maze is a terrifyingly fun event. Make your way through the maze at night, but watch out for the ghosts and ghouls who may try to surprise you along the way. This experience is not for the faint of heart... be prepared to get spooked!
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