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Oh So Spooky: Myths and Legends that Haunt Michigan

Halloween is just around the corner! That means it is time for pumpkin-spiced lattes and spooky stories shared around the campfire. Evans Distribution Systems has been around for 90 years, we’re no stranger to the haunted characters that call our great state home.

To get you in the spirit, we are sharing some of Michigan’s most infamous myths and legends. It is up to you to decide which story will keep you up at night!

Michigan shaped moon

Michigan Dogman

The Michigan Dogman has been described as a creature that possesses a man’s body and a dog’s head with a howl that resembles a human scream. Dogman was first spotted by a couple of lumberjacks working in Wexford County in 1887. Since then, many sightings have been reported throughout Michigan, most of which occur in the northwestern quadrant of the lower peninsula.

In the summer of 1938, a man was fishing along the edge of the Muskegon River near Paris, Michigan when a pack of wild dogs appeared. The man fired a shot into the air and all but one of the dogs ran back into the woods. The remaining “dog” stood up on two legs and just glared with its unusual eyes. Similar sightings were reported in the 1950s from Allegan County and 1960s from Manistee County, Cross Village, and Big Rapids.

In 1987, Traverse City, Michigan DJ Steve Cook recorded a song about the creature. After the song’s release, Cook received tons of calls from listeners who said they have encountered the Dogman.

Melon Heads

Melon heads have been described as small, children-like figures with large, round heads. The melon heads of Michigan are generally spotted near Saugatuck. There are many versions of stories on how they came to be.

According to one story, the melon heads were originally children with Hydrocephalus, a condition that causes a buildup of fluid within the brain causing the skull to become enlarged. These children lived at the Junction Insane Asylum near Felt Mansion. The children were abused, became feral, and released into the woods surrounding the asylum.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, teenagers who lived in the area frequently reported sightings of the melon heads in the woods.

Nain Rouge

The Nain Rouge or “red dwarf” is a mythical creature of the Detroit, Michigan area. The appearance of the Nain Rouge is said to herald misfortune. According to legend, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, founder of Detroit, was told by a fortune teller to pacify the Nain Rouge. However, when Cadillac crossed paths with the Nain Rouge on the bank of the Detroit River, Cadillac beat the creature with a stick until it ran away. Consequently, the Nain Rouge doomed Cadillac and the entire city of Detroit to eternal misfortune.

It is said that the red dwarf has appeared before many of the infamous disasters in Detroit’s history, including the Battle of Bloody Run in 1763, the Great Fire of 1805, the Siege of Detroit during the War of 1812, the Detroit Riot of 1967, the great ice storm of 1976, and several others.

Torch Lake Monster

The Torch Lake monster has been described as a huge, slimy creature with one brown eye and one blue eye. During the day, the monster swims around the deepest part of the lake; at night, it rises to the surface to terrify boaters, swimmers, and campers.

Campers at Camp Hayo-Went-Ha on Torch Lake’s northern edge believe in the monster. Some say that Torch Lake would be the perfect place for a monster to live as the lake is the longest and deepest inland lake in Michigan.

Snake Goddess of Belle Isle

According to a Native American legend, Ottawa Chief Sleeping Bear had an unbelievably beautiful daughter. In order to shield his gorgeous daughter from the overwhelming swarms of suitors, Sleeping Bear put her into a canoe, draped a blanket over her, and sent her down the Detroit River. However, the wind also wanted to see the girl’s beauty and blew the blanket off her. This also caused the canoe to drift further down the river where she was kidnapped. The wind managed to rescue the girl and blew her back home to Sleeping Bear. Sleeping Bear decided to protect her by putting her on Belle Isle and asked the Spirits to protect her forever. The Spirits granted Sleeping Bear’s wishes by giving his daughter immortality and the ability to transform into a white doe. The Spirits surrounded the island with snakes to guard her and she then became known as the Snake Goddess.

Visitors to Belle Isle say that she still roams the island. Visitors claim to have spotted her in both forms – a white deer or “Lady in White.” Apparently, you can beckon her by parking near the bridge at Tanglewood Drive, shutting off your engine, and honking your horn three times.

Interested in learning about more legends surrounding Michigan? Make sure to check out the stories of Pressie, Paulding Light, Singing Sands of Bete Grise, Crying Woman of Indian Village, Old Presque Isle Lighthouse, and Hell’s Bridge. Just like Evans Distribution Systems, these urban legends have also been passed down through the generations. Do you have what it takes to keep these stories alive, or are you already hiding under your covers?