By 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.
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.
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.
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!