As part of the America's Haunted Road Trip series, Ghosthunting Michigan takes readers along on a guided tour of some of the Great Lake State's most haunted historic locations. With a background in library science, author Helen Pattskyn researched each location thoroughly before visiting, digging up clues for the paranormal aspect of each site. Her approach to each site allows readers to decide whether or not the ghost stories are really true. In Ghosthunting Michigan, Pattskyn takes readers along as she explores some of her home state's most haunted locations, starting with a visit to the Whitney in Downtown Detroit. Some of the other sites include Belle Isle, historic Fort Wayne, the Grand Plaza Hotel, Eagle Harbor, the Point Iroquis Lighthouse, and many more.
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Castaways Food & Spirits
My grandmother used to tell me that “things happen for a reason,” so I tried to tell myself that getting a very late start for my trip into Michigan’s “thumb” area was only a minor annoyance, not a major catastrophe. But I was on a tight scheduleor so I kept telling myself. Little about the two days I spent exploring the thumb went as planned, but it was one of the best adventures of my trip around the state hunting ghost stories.
I started out getting on the road considerably later than I had plannedsuch is the way of things when there’s a teenager to get off to school and she misses her bus. Instead of coffee and toast, my day started with “Mom, can you drive me to school?”
The delay worked out in my favor, however, because as soon as I arrived at my first stop, Castaways Food & Spirits in Lapeer, I realized that I had apparently misread the information on their website. I thought they opened at 11:00 in the morning. I must have missed a digit, because according to the sign on the door, they didn’t open until 1:00 p.m. It was a very good thing I was there at 12:30, rather than bright and early at 11:00, as I had originally planned.
There were a few staff members on duty getting the place ready to open up, and one of them, a waitress named Kim, was kind enough to open the door and say “hello” when she saw me standing there looking inand probably looking a little frazzled as well. It wasn’t just the late start or the construction along the way; when my directions had me turning onto a dirt road, I started to wonder if I’d printed a map to the wrong place. Then again, what better place for a haunted building than at the bottom of a hill before a lake?
Kim was gracious about my early arrival. “We’re not quite open yet, but if you want to come in and wait, you’re welcome to have a seat. I was just finishing cleaning up.”
I explained that I wasn’t there for lunch, I was writing a book about haunted locations in Michigan and wondered if she could tell me anything about the restaurant’s alleged ghostly activity.
“Oh, we have plenty of that,” Kim said.
“I don’t suppose you have a few minutes to talk to me about it?” I asked, hopefully.
She did, and she led me to a quiet table near the front of the dining room where we could talk. The restaurant hadn’t looked like much from the outside, but I found the interior to be comfortable and the view of the lake was spectacular through the restaurant’s huge windows. I could easily see why Nepessing Lake, which is one of the larger lakes in Lapeer County, was such a popular destination with fishers and boaters.
“What do you want to know about the place?” Kim asked me, as I drew my notebook out of my purse.
“Anything you want to tell me,” I said. I explained that I was driving around the state, talking to folks and gathering their ghost stories, either firsthand accounts or anything customers or fellow employees might have reported.
“There’s been a lot,” she said. “Most of it seems to happen in the back.” Kim nodded toward the back of the dining room. “I was cleaning back there one morning before we opened, and I heard this loud stomp, stomp, stomp above me, like someone was walking around on the roof or something.” She demonstrated by slapping her palms against the tabletop, to emphasize that it wasn’t a soft scuttling, but loud, distinct stomping. “It wasn’t an animal,” she insisted. “And I know there was no one on the roof. Now, we do have a crawl space between the ceiling and the roof, but no way it’s big enough for a full-grown man to stand up in, let alone walk around.”
Okay, I had to admit that might freak me out a little bit.
“That’s the only thing that really happened to me, personally,” she said. “But other people have said they get a weird feeling back there. And we’ve had a few paranormal groups come out to investigate the place. They came in with all their equipment, cameras and stuff, and I know they took a bunch of pictures that had those orbs in them.”
Perhaps it was little wonder that Flint radio station WCRZ rated Castaways Food & Spirits as one of their top five haunted places near Flint, which is pretty impressive when you consider the other places that made the list (the Holly Hotel, Fenton Hotel, Flint’s Capitol Theatre, and the River Rest and Sunset Hills Cemetery.) By comparison, the Castaways restaurant is very small and out-of-the-way.
But there’s more going on at Castaways Food & Spirits than just Kim hearing footsteps on the roof when there couldn’t have been anyone up there and the orb photos that were taken in the back room.
I did some more research on Castaways and discovered that some people claim to have heard voices whispering in the back of the dining room where Kim indicated most of the activity seemed to be centered, although she said there has been some activity in the lighthouse as well. One customer even reported seeing a woman leaning over the railing of the lighthouse, even though there was no way for someone to have gotten up there. Other people have said they felt “uneasy” in the back of the dining room and even in the restroom area, but Kim didn’t think that whoever or whatever was haunting the place was malignant.
“You just hear weird noises once in a while. It’s an old building and has its ghosts,” she told me.
I said that that has pretty much been the consensus among people I’ve talked to who work in haunted places. Most people are comfortable with their spectral coinhabitantsand some places even make a pretty big deal out of being haunted. The Castaways’ owners neither try to hide the fact that their restaurant is haunted, nor do they make a big deal out of italthough they do consider the name, Castaways Food & Spirits, to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek. For the most part, the ghosts are just there, occasionally clomping around on the roof, but not really bothering anybody and certainly not causing any harm.
Kim hazarded a guess as to the identity of the spirit who sometimes walks around on the roof. “There was a fireman who is supposed to have died in a fire, back when this place was the Nepessing Lake Hotel,” she said. Kim took me over to one of the walls, where several old photos of the building were hanging, so I could see the pictorial history of the property for myself. “This is what it looked like back thenthe building is something like a hundred years old,” she added.
The building was clearly much larger in its younger years and looked like it must have had guest rooms in a second story that no longer exists.
“There was a fire at the old hotel, and the story goes that one of the firemen perished while trying to put it out. There’s another story that the place was a brothel at one point too.”
Kim walked me back to the front door; I thanked her for her time and let her get back to setting up for the day, then went outside and took a few photographs of the building before heading back up the dirt road and finding my way back to the highway.
While writing this chapter, I revisited the Castaway’s website and discovered that their hours are listed as opening at 11:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday (on Sunday they open at noon). So I don’t know if the late start on the day I visited was due to the fact that it was the week before Easter, or perhaps it was just that it was still fairly early in the season, but visitors might want to call ahead before venturing out to Lapeer.
Table of Contents
Southeastern Michigan 1
Chapter 1 The Whitney Detroit 2
Chapter 2 Marlow's Chill & Grill Brownstown 9
Chapter 3 Camp Ticonderoga Troy 14
Chapter 4 Baldwin Theatre Royal Oak 20
Chapter 5 Bone Head's BBQ Willis 28
Spotlight On: The Motor City Ghost Hunters 37
Chapter 6 Battle Alley Arcade Antiques Mall Holly 39
Chapter 7 Main Street Antiques Holly 46
Spotlight On: Dunn's Tomb 53
Chapter 8 Holly Hotel Holly 55
Chapter 9 Fenton Hotel Tavern & Grille Fenton 61
Spotlight On: Greenfield Village and Henry Ford Museum 66
Thumb Area 69
Chapter 10 Castaways Food & Spirits Lapeer 70
Chapter 11 Time on Main Euro Café Richmond 75
Chapter 12 Boomers Tavern Memphis 80
Spotlight On: EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) 86
Chapter 13 Forester Township Cemetery Forester 88
Chapter 14 Sweet Dreams Inn Victorian Bed & Breakfast Bay Port 93
Spotlight On: Richmond's Main Street Café 101
Western Michigan 103
Chapter 15 Henderson Castle Kalamazoo 104
Chapter 16 The National House Inn Marshall 112
Chapter 17 Regent Theatre Allegan 118
Chapter 18 Grill House Restaurant Allegan 125
Spotlight On: The Ada Witch 132
Chapter 19 Kirby House Grand Haven 134
Chapter 20 Dee-Lite Bar & Grill Grand Haven 139
Chapter 21 Stuart Manor Portage 144
Spotlight On: Nunica Cemetery 151
Chapter 22 Sam's Joint Plainwell 153
Upper Peninsula 161
Chapter 23 Seul Choix Point Lighthouse Gulliver 162
Chapter 24 Landmark Inn Marquette 170
Spotlight On: Orb Photos 176
Chapter 25 Calumet Theatre Calumet 178
Chapter 26 Whitefish Point Lighthouse and Shipwreck Museum Paradise 186
Spotlight On: Ouija Boards 194
Northern Michigan 197
Chapter 27 Mission Table at Bowers Harbor Inn Traverse City 198
Spotlight On: Ghosthunting Equipment for the Weekend Ghosthunter 205
Chapter 28 Blue Pelican Inn Central Lake 207
Spotlight On: Electromagnetic Fields and Ghosts 213
Chapter 29 The Noggin Room Pub and Stafford's Perry Hotel Petoskey 215
Chapter 30 City Park Grill Petoskey 224
Spotlight On: Mackinac Island 229
Visiting the Haunted Sites 234
More Haunted Places to Visit 241
About the Author 246