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The 'Lake Michigan Triangle' Mystery
The Lake Michigan triangle is said to have similar characteristics of the Bermuda Triangle and is said to be a place of ghost ships, strange disappearances and even UFO sightings.
"There's been some strange disappearances out there, there's been many ships that have been lost that haven't been found."
Bill Wangemann is a historian from Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He's spent a lifetime gathering tales about the Lake Michigan triangle.
According to author Linda S. Godfrey in her book 'Weird Michigan' (2006), the Michigan Triangle starts from the town of Ludington to Benton Harbor in Michigan; another links from Benton Harbor to Manitowoc, Wisconsin; the final side connects Manitowoc back to Ludington.
But the legend doesn't end with sunken ships; nearly 40 planes have disappeared over Lake Michigan too. Probably the most famous is northwest airlines flight 2501 that took off from New York City headed for Minneapolis in June of 1950 and plunged into Lake Michigan just off Benton Harbor. No one survived.
Then, there are the sightings of UFO's and other strange anomalies in the sky. In fact there have been so many sightings of strange objects and phantom planes that the Federal Aviation Administration created a special lake reporting service to catalog the reported sightings.
And yet still, thousands make the journey through the Triangle every season.
Captain Kevin Fitch of the Badger Ferry has been sailing Lake Michigan waters for nearly 30 years, "I've heard of it, I don't put a lot of faith in it but I have heard of it. Little bits and pieces here and there."
He says in the thousand trips he's made across the lake he's never seen anything strange. "I can't think of anything that didn't have an explanation of some kind."
So Captain Fitch continues to guide the ferry through what Wangemann says is considered the most dangerous part of the triangle.
"There's dozen's of these stories about different things that have occurred out there and people that have been lost and sailors that have disappeared off of ships and some people claim that there is something supernatural going on out on the lake," says Wangemann.
The wreck of the schooner Rosa Belle and the loss of 11 crew members and passengers, all members of the Benton Harbor cult House of David, shocked the nation in the fall of 1921. The wreck was discovered on Oct. 30, floating upside down by the Grand Trunk car ferry Ann Arbor No. 4. The captain of the ferry said it appeared as if the schooner had been in a collision with another vessel. But no other ship was found to have been in a collision that week. The aft section was smashed, the cabin was wrenched away from the deck and the ship’s rigging was floating loosely about the hull. The mystery of what happened to the Rosa Belle was never solved.
Strange too was the fact that it was the second almost identical wreck for the Rosa Belle. The vessel capsized in the same area and drifted ashore near Grand Haven, Michigan, in August, 1875. Ten crew members were lost. The wreck was recovered at that time and rebuilt.
Among the strangest of the mysteries was the disappearance of the schooner Thomas Hume, which disappeared without a trace in a Lake Michigan gale on May 21, 1891, while sailing empty from Chicago to Muskegon, Michigan to pick up a load of lumber. Seven sailors, including Captain George C. Albrecht, were lost with the ship. Even though the lake was searched thoroughly, not a stick of lumber or piece of flotsam from a wreck was ever found. Old sailors speculated that the Hume, a wooden vessel, could not have sunk without some wreckage floating away. To this day, the Hume’s disappearance remains unsolved.
One of the most famous stories of disappearing crew members includes the freighter O.M. McFarland.
In April 1937, Captain George Donnor was heading to Port Washington, Wisconsin, "He decided to retire to his cabin for a nap, and he gave orders to be aroused about 6pm. And they went to his cabin and he was gone. The story was the cabin was locked from the inside and nobody knows what happened to him till this day," says Wangemann.
During the time of Captain Donnor's disappearance the McFarland was crossing through the nexus of the Lake Michigan triangle along the same course of the Badger Ferry.
As the Badger Ferry continues on its journey, passengers are unaware of what might lurk in the deep lake waters. John Fangman: "I know there's a lot of mystery about the great lakes and legend and folklore."
Bill Wangemann says there are some tails of sea monsters. "Many years ago there were people that swore they saw sea monsters on the shore here," says Wagemann.
And some of the witness have quite a bit of credibility, "A Catholic priest went for a walk he saw this beast on the shore he said it was big and the color green," says Wangemann. (See videos below - mysterious footprints on shore (alien?)
Sea monsters, ghost ships, disappearing planes and crew members, unidentified flying objects. It's the making of a good science fiction movie or a good legend.
Either way it certainly gives you something to think about as you look out onto Lake Michigan wondering what secrets she's keeping in her deep dark waters.
Here are 2 videos of some strange tracks that where made on one of the Lake Michigan shores
Radar 'Ghost Planes' - Report: May 22, 2000
For the past five weeks, air traffic controllers at the O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois have been seeing images of "ghost planes" on their radar sets, usually in the skies of the Lake Michigan Triangle. The Triangle is an area of Lake Michigan which runs from Ludington, Michigan south to Benton Harbor, Mich., then across the lake to Manitowoc, Wisconsin and then back to Ludington.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, "False radar images have been popping up on the screens of O'Hare International Airport's air traffic controllers, forcing pilots to take sudden turns unnecessarily."
"At least a dozen 'ghost planes' have been reported during the last few weeks, the newspaper said, citing documents from the Terminal Radar Approach Control Center in Elgin, Illinois (population 78,000)."
"Controllers said that at least a few times they have ordered pilots to take sudden turns to avoid what appeared to be planes on their radar, potentially putting passengers at risk."
"'The ghosting is a complete terror for air traffic controllers,' said Charles Bunting, president of the Elgin local the National Air Traffic Controllers Association."
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokesman Tony Molinaro "said there have been 13 ghost images in the last five weeks rather than the usual eight or nine the FA would normally expect in this time period., 'meaning we shall need to look into them.'"
"But Mike Egan, vice president of the controller's union at Elgin, accused the FAA of playing down the problem. 'Maybe 130, but not 13,' Egan said Friday (May 19, 2000). 'We had a couple of them today, as a matter of fact. They know there's a problem.'"
This all adds to the mythology of the lake, which is not prone to reveal its secrets. Lake Michigan is a treacherous lake and continues to be a source of fascination and inspiration for our collective imaginations.
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