Mission Point Resort, Mackinac Island, MI
Always excited to travel to new places and experience new things, I was thrilled when Strange Escapes returned to Mackinac Island for “Haunted Mackinac Island” at the Mission Point Resort. I had heard so much about this event, and always regretted not attending the previous year, so immediately jumped at the chance to attend. Strange Escapes events are full of history , beauty, haunts, and celebrity guests who take you on a journey through time and place and allow you to experience an investigation with some of the best in the business.
It took 3 planes, a ferry, and a horse-drawn carriage to get me there, but it was so worth the adventure. Guests this weekend (in addition to all of the “Escapees”, as Amy Bruni lovingly calls us) were: Amy Bruni, of Kindred Spirits and GhostHunters fame, Adam Berry, also from Kindred Spirits and GhostHunters, Grant Wilson from GhostHunters (a regular on Strange Escapes event presenter’s list), Greg and Dana Newkirk (from “The Traveling Museum of the Paranormal and the Occult”, and regular guests on shows such as Kindred Spirits and Paranormal Lockdown), John Tenney from Realm of the Weird (lovingly referred to as Papa Tenney for his way of telling tales that interest you and challenge your personal beliefs), Andrea Perron (author of the three-volume series “House of Darkness, House of Light”, UFO whisperer, and eldest daughter of the Perron family featured in the movie “The Conjuring”), Tim Ellis and Brad Blair (hosts of Creaking Door Paranormal and founders of the Upper Peninsula Paranormal Research Society), and Todd Clements, (owner of Haunts of Mackinac, and author of two books on the hauntings at Mackinac titled “Haunts of Mackinac” and “Haunts of Mackinac: The Next Chapter). Unexpected but welcome guests were the Haunt Me crew, including Ty Gowen. (You can read more about my experience investigating with Ty in a future blog detailing our adventure at Mount Washington Resort. Unforgettable.)
History of Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island is famous for its fudge, history and natural beauty. It’s located in Lake Huron, at the eastern end of the Straits of Mackinac, and is accessible via ferry boat from either St. Ignace or Mackinac City. Native Americans likened the shape of the island to a turtle, so they named it “Mitchimakinak” – Ojibwe for “Big Turtle”. The island was a sacred place in the tradition of some of its earliest known inhabitants, the Anishinaabe, who consider it the home of the “Great Spirit”, and buried their tribal chiefs there. A mission was founded by a Jesuit priest there in 1670, and due to the location, the island became an important French fur trading location. The British took control of the Straits of Mackinac after the French and Indian War and the bluffs of the island were chosen for Fort Mackinac in 1780. The US officially acquired the island through the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
During the war of 1812, the British captured the fort in the Siege of Fort Mackinac. It was again transferred back to US control with the Treaty of Ghent in 1815 and was used by the US government to defend the Union during the American Civil War.
To accommodate an influx of tourists in the 1880s, the boat and railroad companies built hotels, including the Grand Hotel. Souvenir shops began to spring up as a way for island residents to profit from the tourists. Many wealthy business magnates built summer “cottages” along the island’s bluffs for extended stays. When the federal government left the island in 1895, all of the federal land, including Fort Mackinac, was given to the state of Michigan and became Michigan’s first state park. The Mackinac Island State Park Commission appointed to oversee the island has limited private development in the park and requires leaseholders to maintain the island’s distinctive Victorian architecture. Motorized vehicles were prohibited at the end of the 19th century and this prohibition is still in place today. There are said to be 400 horses on the island, and they transfer over to the mainland via freight ferry at the end of the season (late October).
Hauntings of Mission Point Resort
The best story that I have seen written to explain the hauntings on Mackinac was written by Greg Newkirk (mentioned above) in this Week in Weird post .
Stepping onto the island, I was immediately transported back in time, as I could hear the clop-clopping of the horses, and see all of the Victorian stylings of the homes and inns on the island. The shops are up to date, but still look like old-tyme soda shoppes and fudge stores and as I was walking by, I smelled fresh popcorn being made and delicious aromas of that famous fudge being mixed, cooled and sliced. (Funnily enough, the locals call us tourists “fudgies”.) It was a beautiful warm fall day, all of the colors were changing for the season, and there were rows and rows of flowers in the yards. I jumped on to the carriage for Mission Point and thoroughly enjoyed the 10-minute ride through town to this beautiful spot right on the edge of the water with stunning views of the Lake and the grounds.
I was welcomed into a meet-and-greet with all of the celebrities and Escapees, with light appetizers and cash bar – everyone is so amazingly generous with their time, giving out hugs, taking pictures, visiting, answering questions, and checking out the Traveling Museum . Greg and Dana are always stationed close by the museum, explaining each artifact, and how it came to be in their possession (some of the stories are wild!) and offering everyone the chance to hold and interact with the pieces. I have seen the museum at least seven times, and there is always something new to see and investigate!the season, and there were rows and rows of flowers in the yards. I jumped on to the carriage for Mission Point and thoroughly enjoyed the 10-minute ride through town to this beautiful spot right on the edge of the water with stunning views of the Lake and the grounds.
Everyone enjoyed themselves thoroughly, but then rushed off to prepare for the Event of the Weekend – the Costume Party! This is a tradition for the Strange Escapes event on Mackinac – everyone works so hard on their costumes and there is a costume contest with prizes, lots of dancing, cash bar and lots of intermingling with guests and celebrities alike. It’s a wonderful addition to the event and starts the weekend off with a bang. Goodness so much had happened already and it was only FRIDAY!
Saturday promised speakers and sessions throughout the day, a live investigation of the Mission Point Resort that night, and Sunday was more of the same with a dinner at the Fort, a tour, and a guided ghost walk through famously haunted locations on Sunday night!
**TO BE CONTINUED, WATCH FOR PART II!**