On one of our camping trips to our property in Michigan, two of our older members from the Marion Boys Club sought permission to spend an overnight at the Haunted Island. That was before we got to the Big Bass Lake area as they kind of laughed about it on the way up to Michigan. But when they first laid eyes on it as we were bringing the tents down to our wooded beachfront, their bravado weakened a bit.
Our younger members urged them on because of all their bragging and for a time their bravado returned. That was until the first sunset had vanished from the sky and there the island stood in the lake, drapped in darkness and very foreboding. As I put a tent into the boat, one of the older kids began rethinking his boasting. “How about in a few days. There’s no rush”, he said. The other older member echoed those vey thoughts.
But each night as it came time to shove off for the island, another excuse was forthcoming. So it was until the final night of our stay there when push came to shove as the younger members began heckling them about their so called bravery. But the farthest we ever got was about five rows away from our campsite. On another night they had accompanied us to the full camps visit to the Haunted Island which left a “haunting” impression on each older member. Thus, that overnight never came to be and they took a lot of ribbing from the younger members all the way back to Marion.
An overnight at the Haunted Island is easier ssid then done.
I think that on all my camping trips to our property my favorite times were at night. During the day we would swim a lot or take side trips to Ludington or the Lake Michigan Recreational Area, or even to Wellston and the Pine River. But after supper the real great times began. One time each trip was reserved for a voyage to the Haunted Island but largely our hiking times began at dusk until about one o’clock in the morning hiking both on our property and down the Bloody Antler Trail by and near Bear Swamp.
On our property we would travel down the old loggging trails that led to two large swamps and then to a creek. We would play hound and the hare or scouting games or just enjoy the night air. Once we went over to the blackberry patch but there were too many mosquitoes also enjoying that fruit.
Some nights we would just stay by our camping site and roast marshmellows or hot dogs while telling stories or singing songs. Some of the boys enjoyed sitting on the soft moss while taking in the night time beauty of Big Bass Lake. At times we took a rowboat excursion onto Big Bass Lake to take in all the stars of the heavens.
Talks about God were also not uncommon on those trips as many boys prayed before heading back to the tents for sleep. The kids just seemed to open up more in the evenings as the night air was more refreshing and stimulating to their thoughts. Campfires were real special at those times. Some deep theological issues were discussed right there in God’s creation.
After a full day of activities and campfire times sleep was welcome and appreciated at all times. After all another day of activities was about to come forth.
Many people have asked me why I call the Haunted Island “Haunted”. The story I received from a long time resident on the lake in the 1960’s was that at one time a man and his wife lived on that island along with their collie dog. One day the husband left the island to get supplies. When he returned he found his dog dead but could never find his wife. She could not swim and even after many dragged the lake for her body they never found it. Yet to this day weird sounds are heard coming from that island and many believe it is the wife crying out for her husband.
Just north of the one time Haunted House (for it is no longer up having been demolished several years ago) are burial mounds which I referred to once as the final resting place of the bonepickers. You can find that story elsewhere under the category Haunted Island. Yet another long time resident of Big Bass lake claims those burial mounds are from an old Indian graveyard.
Perhaps some of our readers have heard some stories of that island as to why they believe its haunted and if so leave us a comment with your tale. It should be interesting!
If you can make out the red “X” in the middle of the island, that is where my boys club kids and I always docked at a very rickety pier and always at midnight. On a trip with my Hoffman Estates Boys Club, one kid in particular was not looking very forward to this trip. His name was Alan.
That evening Big Bass Lake was rather choppy and the boat ride over to the island was spooky enough for him so when we docked at the pier he asked if that was all there was to it. One of the other boys noted that this was just the beginning.
We climbed the little hill before us and then took the winding path that led to the haunted house. As we arrived at the clearing where the haunted house stood I could find no takers that wanted to actually go into the house on the first floor to explore. In fact, Alan felt very comfortable just to stay at the pathway by the forest.
Several of the boys encircled the house looking into the empty window panes. They noticed the staircase leading to the upper floor. I told them the story of how all this came to be which can be found elsewhere on BBL and Beyond (Category of Haunted House).
On the way back to our wooded beach front, the lake was somewhat calmer and once we were back on land, Alan kissed the ground. I think he was happy to be back at our camp.
Just before each trip to the Haunted
Island the kids could hear the cries of the loon and as they boarded the two rowboats for the trip out there on a darkened Big Bass Lake the atmosphere was set. As we approached the island the shadows of the trees covered us in even more darkness.
On the Haunted Island there used to be an old house right in the middle of that island in the early 1970’s. There was no glass in the windows and it was a two story house with a dirt basement. Around the house were large fir trees. On one trip a towheaded boy by the name of Keith Hansel had his picture taken in front of the house. Once the picture was developed his eyes shined bright red as if he were possessed. Of course it was due to “red eye” or was it?
We never ventured to the second floor because we were unsure how safe the stairs or the upstairs floor was but we did once venture to the basement dirt floor which was quite spooky to say the least as all our trips to that island were at the midnight hour. On that particular trip flashlights can come in more than handy.
The interesting thing about this house was as you reached the end of the path from the dock the house stood directly in front of you quite foreboding. Add to the mix the occasional loon and all the ingredients were there for some great memories and some bravado that only occurred in the stories the kids told on the way home.
One trip that one of my boys club kids took to the Haunted Island was eventful for what didn’t happen as nothing was planned by me at all. The trip was just to take in the haunted house and the area around it. But as we approached the haunted house the eerie sound of a loon sent the boys to the ground in a heartbeat. I must admit that it was a very bizarre sound and occurrence. Preston and Alan were quite concerned about the unusual sound.
The loon continued his moaning cry for several more minutes. After a few minutes the kids got up and dusted themselves off and asked to return to our beach front camping area. It was the first time in all my trips to that island where the kids requested to leave without some plan of mine that might have scared them. Instead a mere loon sent them packing. You know, I felt upstaged as well.
There is something about Haunted Island that no boy ever truly knows until they are within twenty yards of its coastline at midnight on any given trip. On this trip the Marion Boys Club was making its way to the rickety pier in the center of the island as darkness draped them fully by the approaching tree line. Each boy’s eyes became almost twice their normal size and their mouths became dry. All the speculation about this midnight excursion was over and now they were about to experience Haunted Island for the first time.
As we docked the boys apprehension grew. They climbed out of the boat, one at a time, and mounted the small hill that led to a path. In single file, for that is all that pathway would allow, we walked until we came to a clearing and there it was- The Haunted House surrounded by huge pine trees. The boy’s eyes scanned each and every inch of that house as we approached it slowly. Just then a loon cried out and the boys drew very close to me.
I told them the story of how this island came to be made known as being haunted. Of the couple that once lived there and of the time the husband left the wife for food. She could not swim a lick and when he came back he could not find any trace of her whatsoever. Authorities checked the lake and could not find her at all.
The legend is that she still walks the island every night searching for her husband and periodically cries out in anguish for him. I asked the boys if they wanted to spend the night within the house and to a boy they all shook their heads “no” in unison. This is the trip where once that story was told that a piece of cardboard sailed out one of the window frames being carried by the wind. The boys scattered faster than a speeding bullet.
The Haunted Island and house is something that the boys would never forget as that is always the single most important time for any of them on any trip. It is widely talked about once home and kids anticipate that part of the trip north more than anything else. That is, until they are within twenty yards of the island at midnight.
The Hoffman Estates Boys Club was the only club at our property that ever heard the story of the “Bonepickers” while visiting the Haunted Island. Just for a change of pace, we had taken the opportunity to view the mounds just north of the Haunted House on this particular trip. However we did so from afar. Then I gathered the boys close to the Haunted House and told them the story of the bonepickers.
Some curious teens once visited the island by boat at the stoke of midnight. It was said they never returned. Legend had it that as they were walking around the mounds, several bony hands reached up from the ground and grabbed their ankles pulling them beneath the ground until there was no sound but the rustling of the wind. I asked the boys how they might have reacted and observed some petrified faces.
I then asked the kids if they would like the opportunity to put that legend to the test and suggested we also walk about the mounds. One of the kids blurted out, “Forget you, Dave!” That seemed to be the answer from all of them so we took one last glance at those mounds and then the kids headed back to the boat at the rickety pier for a return trip back to our wooded beachfront with no regrets whatsoever.
One thing about the Haunted Island that I haven’t mentioned much is what seems like many burial mounds not far from the house that extends into the woods of the island. However the direction of these mounds is away from the pier in the opposite direction so not many of our trips have taken us in that direction.
In fact, outside of the Haunted House and the path leading to it, our trips haven’t gone much further. There once was another house on the island close to the lakefront but it burned down some time back. The majority of this island is forest covered. Thus the burial mounds are rather interesting in that the young couple who once lived on the island might offer an explanation for the wife’s disappearance. At night the effect of the burial mounds is rather spooky to say the least.
One of the boys discovered those seven to eight mounds when running in that direction and having tripped over one of them. That area might have been some sort of cemetary at one time. At any rate that made our trip to the Haunted House that year even more mysterious than any other.
During a trip to the Haunted Island with the Marion Boys Club on a night just like this was the only prop necessary for a very spooky night. No ghost stories needed to be told that evening as the weather did the trick. And even though the wind was howling and the lake had whitecaps, not a drop fell that night.
When we got to the island the boys poured out of the boat and up the short hill that led to the path to the haunted house. They could hear the wind whistle through the trees providing a real errie sound. Many of the trees on that island were pine and the sound was superb for a night of haunting. The boys were so close together that you couldn’t fit a piece of paper between them. I like closeness on an outing as you never have to worry about straglers.
Once at the house more errie sounds were heard as, since the house has no glass where windows ought to be, the wind provided even more special effects. When a piece of cardboard was carried by the wind out the front door every kid on that trip hit the ground faster than a heartbeat. They thought they had seen their first real ghost with nary a ghost buster among them.
Yet on the way back to Marion after that trip was over there was nary a mention of how scared they were that night. I must have brought back some different kids?
Would this be a good location for a cottage on Big Bass Lake? There are still properties that are found on the lake and even land but it is getting scarce. There may be more opportunity on Little Bass Lake. The advantage of the smaller Lake is not as much traffic on the lake. There are no Islands to get in your way with your speed boat or motorboat. If you want more action with your motor boat you can always go through the channel to Big Bass Lake. If you want to live on an island, the Big Island has homes for sale and then there’s the Haunted Island but the fly in the oatmeal then is how to get supplies there as there is no bridge to that Island. There are still locations available so get out there and check them out.
We need a little air conditioning this summer and this picture of Haunted Island on Ice should do it. At this time of year you don’t need a boat to get there. You can literally walk on water to get to your destination. Haunted Island has beautiful trees all over the island but especially on the southern tip. And now that we’ve been air-conditioned sufficiently shall we turn on the heat? In this photograph we can see a little bit more of the island drenched in sunshine. There are two houses on the island now and I wonder if they have Beach area? Anyone know for sure? Both houses seem to be on the eastern shore of the island. How I miss going there each summer.
As you can see from this picture, the haunted island is all forested with the haunted house almost directly in the middle of the island. Just to the north of that house is an old Indian burial ground where the BonePickers I said to reside. The island is best visited at midnight to get the full effect. The only way to the island is by boat and as you enter the tree line the island gets even darker. It was the perfect place to take the boys from my various boys clubs at the stroke of midnight. I think it was the most anticipated event of any trip to Michigan, that is until the moment arrived. Another look at Haunted Island.
This is almost the view that our boys club kids had of the Haunted Island from our wooded beachfront. Our view was slightly west of this position and, of course, on land. From the moment we arrived on the scene the Haunted Island was in full view for the boys. Previous trips had let them know that on one of the upcoming nights, at midnight, they would be where others had been before.
Each camper used to stare at that island for a good few minutes before getting down to the business of getting the camp ready for their stay. On our first nights campfire that was largely the topic of the evening. Then that island was dark and foreboding and still in plain sight of our campsite. But what they observed then were the dark shadows that kind of draped the Haunted Island with a very spooky effect.
Some nights the kids even heard the sounds of loons, which they had never before heard, coming from that island. They drew closer together at that time. Yet each one still anticipated that coming night when they would all climb into two rowboats and make that journey out to the Haunted Island. It was a big draw for all trips to Michigan.
They all admitted that what had not looked so bad in daylight had been completely transformed at night, aided, of course, by their imaginations. And the question that remained on each of their minds was on which night they would be going there?