Sleeping Bears Dunes National Lakeshore, Glen Arbor Township

Status: Island

 Park Website


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By Geoffrey George - Originally uploaded to English Wikipedia by <a href="" class="extiw" title="en:User:Gsgeorge">en:User:Gsgeorge</a>, Public Domain, Link


This island was first settled in the mid-1830’s by William Burton for the purposes of logging. He built a dock in the eastern bay creating the only deep water port between Buffalo and Chicago. By 1847 a village called Burton’s Wharf has sprung up including a blacksmith shop, general store and a barn.

There was even a Post Office built in 1870 as farming began to take over on the island. In 1871 a 100 foot lighthouse was built that is still on the island today. In 1923 the US Government built a lifesaving station on the island near where the current ferry docks are today.

As the 20th Century went forward the population of the island began to dwindle. Burton’s wharf fell into disrepair and the farmers began to abandon their farms. Today there is only 1 year round resident on the island – a National Park ranger who lives in the former life saving station.

There are over 50 known shipwrecks in the waters around the island.

The island is only accessible by ferry from Leland in the summer months.


Paranormal Activity

In the 19th Century it is said that a boat full – about 20 people - of cholera victims came to the island, unloaded a boat full of the dead and dying and left again. The local islanders had no choice but to dig a mass grave and bury the newcomers and rumor has it not all of them were completely dead when they were buried.

The stories of ghosts and paranormal activity began shortly after this event.

The mass grave is believed to be near the old cemetery just north of the Bay Campground and near where the old dock used to be.

Scuba divers have heard unexplained cries underwater while diving on the numerous nearby wrecks.

Another story is that of a woman whose husband went to the mainland and never returned. Every day she would take a lantern and walk to the dock awaiting his return. Eventually she died of old age but her ghost continues the daily ritual to this day.

The lighthouse is haunted by a former keeper and his family who were killed in a storm returning from the mainland.

A previous Park Ranger became very distraught and drew his weapon demanding to taken off the island because of the ghosts that were plaguing him. Apparently, this story has been confirmed.

Other Activity: apparitions wandering the beach that fade away if approached, light anomalies; cold and warm spots; phantom scent of lavender; feelings of being watched; doors and windows opening and closing on their own in the abandoned buildings and disembodied voices.