Monthly Archives: December 2019

Snowed in on a Haunted Island

Haunted-PembineBy the time we reached our final destination, the weather had turned.  Soon intense lightning strikes were replaced by intense snow.  Very long, dark, narrow, wooded roads finally opened up to a single lane, converted railroad bridge that leads to the remote, tiny, haunted Miscauno Island, which is located in the middle of the Menominee River on the border between Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, in Pembine, WI.

This island, for better or worse, in truth and in urban legend, has a long connection to the Chicago Mafia, specifically, the West Chicago neighborhood of Cicero.  In the modern era, the island, which contains a 55-room hotel and a 9-hole golf course was purchased with millions of dollars, skimmed from the Cicero town budget by then-town President Betty Loren-Maltese, herself a long “connected” individual who was married to mid-level mobster Frank “Baldy” Maltese.  Only in Cicero can politics and the mob intertwine so blatantly. The IRS seized control of the island and resort while Loren-Maltese served six and a half years in a federal penitentiary.

Another Cicero-based mobster going by the name of Al Capone allegedly visited this location during the heyday of prohibition.  The resort staff are among the first to admit that this is a claim that’s been made for ages, but is impossible to verify.  It’s not like Capone would’ve signed a guest book, after all.

The island was first developed in 1905 by the Wisconsin and Michigan Railroad to house a 25-room inn.  Unfortunately that inn burned to the ground in 1923 (there were no deaths or injuries).  All that remained was the fireplace, which served as the centerpiece of the rebuild.  The new facility was opened in 1925 and included the addition of a golf course and a speakeasy, which is currently the sports bar.  It opened with the name The Four Seasons Club as it caters to summer and winter activities, such as snowmobiling.  It wasn’t until 2005 that the large 55-room hotel with massive salt water indoor pool was added.  This location is not associated with the Four Seasons luxury chain.

FourSeasons-Haunted

The ghost story is not actually associated with the Mafia legends.  As the story goes, the daughter of a successful industrialist by the name of Laura Van Du Rose was set to be wed on the grounds, but her would-be groom, Doyle Holmes, never arrived.  Heartbroken, she threw herself out of an open window, to her death.

Poltergeist-like activity has been observed ever since with objects moving and the lobby piano even being played by some invisible being.  While the staff seemed somewhat skeptical or level-headed about their Capone connection, they were adamant that this story is true.  Her body landed right in front of the main doors, her presence is felt throughout the older building, especially in the uppermost ballroom (pictured below) and that she never enters the newest construction.  When we were on hand, snowed-in with over two feet of snow falling in under a day, hotel staff mentioned that closed rooms are locked and checked by multiple people, but on the last walk-through, the door to the vintage ice cream parlor had somehow become unlocked and wide open.

Haunted-ballroom

The only problem: cursory internet and in-depth searches on newspapers.com, reveal no mention of the wedding, the suicide or even the names involved.  A high-profile wedding like this would’ve generated plenty of ink in the early 1900s.  I was even able to find reports out of Green Bay that detailed when trains were simply passing through town on the way to Miscauno Island.

So, either more research needs to be done (please comment if anyone has solid historical information), or there are other reasons for the ongoing hauntings.  Asked if anything has been recorded, the staff mentioned that once a ghost hunting team did an extensive, overnight investigation… but by morning all of their recordings on all of their devices had been deleted.  We’ll never know what, if anything was captured that night.

For a place with such deep known history, possible Mafia history and likely extensive Native American history and pre-history, there is a lot more to learn about this site, including the surrounding grounds before we know why this site is so actively haunted.

LoveThisWoman

The snow didn’t keep us for exploring outside a bit and it eventually did stop, allowing us to leave.  Thanks for the adventure, Wendy!


Birthday Road Trip on a ‘UFO Highway’

Well, can you think of a better way to kick off a surprise birthday road trip? Dream-come-true fiancée (too mushy for a paranormal newsletter?  Fine.)  “See You on the Other Side” podcast producer & co-host Wendy Lynn Staats ‘abducted’ me for a weekend getaway of mysteries.  Driving north through Wisconsin, we drove alongside the expansive Kettle Moraine State Forest in Eastern Wisconsin.  The southern portion of this forest is where Bigfoot hunter Jay Bachochin lead me on two expeditions, each of which left me beyond words (check out his documentary, “Finding Jay” now free on Amazon Prime).  So, already, I knew I was in a strange area.  Little did I know, I was about to come face-to-face with a being that came from another world.

The first thing that really caught our attention on the drive was Dundee Mountain.  Yes, a mountain peak in Wisconsin… not a common sight in the Midwest.

DundeeMountain-UFOWithin 10 minutes, we were at our destination… Benson’s Holiday Hide-A-Way, a small lakefront bar that appeared closed and possibly out of business at first blush, owing to a ‘For Sale’ sign that has been on the building for over a decade.  Fortunately for us, the bar was open and we were the only revelers to go along with bar owner Bill Benson and dozens of alien figures of various sizes.

Quickly, I realized I was at ground zero of a UFO sighting hot spot.  You would assume a small, lakefront bar like this would be inhabited by ‘salt of the earth,’ blue collar recreational fishermen, and that is likely still true, but the conversation tends to be about strange lights in the sky, frequently seen in the area of Dundee Mountain, like Devil’s Tower in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

UFODundee

UFO-PhotosAccording to Benson, UFOs had been seen in the area for decades, even before he ran the bar.  Crop circles have popped up in the area well before the phenomena took the media by storm in the early ‘90s.  Within the last two decades, the bar and shoreline has been a great spot to set up a camera to wait and catch a glimpse of strange crafts flying through the sky, especially at sunset or shortly thereafter.  He’s even got a well-worn photo album sporting dozens of unexplainable pictures taken on the premises.  I must admit, many of them were very compelling.

AlienInAJar-dundeePerhaps the landmark feature of this dive is hidden away in a foggy jar behind the bar.  According to Benson, a man once entered the Holiday Hide-A-Way after discovering an alien corpse in a cave in Rosewell, New Mexico.  Afraid of being on the government radar and it being confiscated, he decided the safest place to hide it was here in Bill’s bar.  So, with word getting out that there is an alien body on site, has the government come calling?  According to Benson, yes.  A member of a government agency, perhaps the CIA, questioned him, asked to see the alien.  The man took the jar into the next room, did his own examination and left, leaving the alien behind.

AlienInAJar-Bensons

The greatest thing about how Benson tells a story is that he doesn’t go over-the-top, trying to convince or prove anything.  “This is what happened,” plain and simple.  Was the guy really a government official?  Are those strange lights really UFOs?  All he can do is report what he’s seen and repeat the stories he’s been told.

There’s never a bad time to swing by and see this place for yourself, but summer may be the best time as this becomes an absolute hot spot of enthusiasts of the unknown during the UFO Daze celebration.  I know I’ve already got it on my calendar as I hope to attend the 32rd annual meeting in 2020.


The Christmas Demon

I’m a little late for Krampusnacht (which was December 6th), but it’s never too late to look around the darker side of international Christmas traditions.  And if you think Krampus is a scary deity, you haven’t seen nothing yet…. beware Perchta, the winter goddess!

The below video is beautifully animated and is by no way something I created.  It was produced by the wonderful YouTube channel, Mythology & Fiction Explained.  Their entire library is worth checking out and I encourage you to do so.