Hey everyone; Marie Cisneros with Paranormal Muskegon, reporting with the latest excursion into the mysterious side of Muskegon. Today, Paranormal Muskegon went monster-hunting. Well, kind of. Actually we were at the Lakeshore Museum, 430 W. Clay in Muskegon, Michigan and talking with Shetan Noir; who is well-versed on the subject of lake monsters and paranormal mysteries. We figured it was safer that way. It’s hard enough looking to see if there are monsters under the bed than looking for Lake Monsters in our own without some expert advice. The Lakeshore museum was gracious enough to open their doors for our talk, with their life-like and colorful prehistoric marine animal exhibit in the background.
The Lakeshore Museum Center in Muskegon has natural and cultural history exhibits of the area as well as hands-on children’s activities. In addition to the marine wildlife exhibit, there is a life-sized mastodon and Science Center, exhibits where patrons can explore a Native American wigwam village, the history of lumber and shipping history. The Lakeshore Center also includes the Hackley & Hume Historic Sites, featuring the homes of Muskegon's prominent lumber barons; the Fire barn Museum and the Scolnik House of the Depression, museum archives and museum store.
When it comes to Great Lakes monsters, we couldn’t have found a better person to ask. Shetan is a well-known Michigan-based author and paranormal travel journalist and teaches paranormal history courses at community colleges around the state. Her books on cryptozoology include; “Mothman and Other Flying Creatures of the Midwest, Lake Monsters and Odd Creatures of the Great Lakes and her latest tome, The Marvelous misadventures of Teagun Gray (Teagun Gray Meets Bigfoot). She is also the former head writer for numerous paranormal magazines. She has spent 25 years researching the paranormal and cryptozoology, and has a wide-range of interests and knowledge; from stories and legends of the Dogman, strange beasts, lake monsters; to the lore, mythology and paranormal history of the Great Lakes; all of which she presents in a well-researched and informative manner. Currently she is the lead investigator for the Michigan chapter of the North American Dogman Project; heading up the paranormal investigation team of Michigan Center for Unexplained Events and Phenomenon ; as well as specializing in paranormal travel destinations and legend trip investigations.
Shetan said that she became fascinated in the paranormal and mythical creatures at a very young age hearing stories of the Loch Ness Monsters and Bigfoot made a lasting impression on her. These stories both frightened her and peaked her interest; leading to a lifetime of research in her quest for knowledge of them. Ultimately, during her research, she found that many such stories and legends of “monsters” in the Great Lakes were based upon misidentification of natural marine life that inhabits the Great Lakes, such as large turtles, salmon or sturgeon. Sturgeon have been around since the late Cretaceous period, living anywhere from 55-100 years and growing up to seven feet long and 300 pounds. Shetan talked about the fossil record left by some of the prehistoric marine life in the exhibit; such as the trilobites, horseshoe crab and others.
Besides monsters, the great lakes also had its share of mysterious ship disappearances and ghost ships. It is said that there have been anywhere from 6,000 to 8,000 ships that have disappeared or wrecked under mysterious circumstances over the Great Lakes throughout history; including the Thomas Hume, the Le Griffon in the 17th century, the Rosabell, the Carl A. Bradley, the Lady Elgin and more recently the Edmund Fitzgerald. Another very curious maritime account is the case of Captain George Donner who disappeared on board his ship from within a locked cabin in 1937. No clues were ever found as to what happened. But Lake Michigan not only takes ships down into its depths; in recent years, over 40 planes have also been inexplicably lost or crashed within the area known as the Michigan Triangle. The Michigan Triangle is a geographical area spanning from Manitowoc, Wisconsin, east to Ludington, Michigan and South to Benton Harbor, Michigan and while not widely known, it has had more unexplained disappearances than the famed Bermuda Triangle.
We asked Shetan to share some insight into the disappearance of the Rouse Simmons; another ship that disappeared under mysterious circumstances. The Rouse Simmons, known as the Christmas tree ship, was owned by Charles H. Hackley of Muskegon, Michigan, a wealthy lumbar magnate and philanthropist. Hackley’s lumber operations stretched all along the Lake Michigan's coastline. The Rouse Simmons made almost weekly runs from Grand Haven to Chicago hauling lumber from company mills to the various markets around the lake for almost 20 years. It was common for lake schooners to make late-season runs loaded with Christmas trees, delivering them to the ports along the Great Lakes. In November, 1912, while hauling thousands of Christmas Trees, it mysteriously vanished with all hands lost; without a trace save for hundreds of Christmas trees washing up on shore. Over the years, speculation about the ship continued; giving rise to many legends and stories; including reports of its ghost being seen sailing the lake during bad weather. Shetan explained that it is believed that when a ghost ship is seen; it is a warning for others to stay off.
So our monster-hunting proved fruitful; although whether or not you would agree that there are monsters inhabiting the Great Lakes or just really, really big fish or turtles; and that ghost ships are just figments of the imagination; it is still fascinating to learn about these “monsters”; both current and prehistoric; as well as the rich maritime history that the Great Lakes offers; for both young and old.
Our thanks goes out to the Lakeshore Museum for welcoming us; and to Shetan Noir for sharing her amazing wealth of knowledge with us. Be sure to check out the exhibits at the Lakeshore Museum. There are lots of really cool stuff here besides the fantastic marine life exhibit; also lots of information on Great Lakes shipping, the lumber era and Charles Hackley. Visit lakeshoremuseum.org or call 231-722-0278 for dates , times and other information.
To find out more about where to purchase Shetan’s books as well as her research and travel destinations click on the photo below for her website!