Haunted Lake Erie

Take a spooky Lake Erie tour by checking out these ghostly sites.

In an area as rich in history and folklore as the one around Lake Erie, there are bound to be some true stories that explain mysterious phenomena — and some legends that seem a little too real to be fictional.

Some even say the lake itself is haunted. Mason Winfield, an author who’s written several books about ghosts and folktales in Western New York, says he interviewed a farmer who lived on top of a hill in Wales, New York, who claimed to see ghost ships on the lake. “Occasionally on clear days they could see white sails and puffs of smoke as though an old-time nautical engagement was doing a ghostly re-enactment,” Winfield says.

There are plenty of places around Lake Erie where you can look for your own paranormal experience. 

• Ghostly apparitions, balls of lights, haunting screams of children and visions of fire have been reported by many a visitor to Gore Orphanage Road in Vermilion, Ohio. Many claim to have found the dusty fingerprints of children when returning to their cars. Whatever the true story of Gore Orphanage, it's certainly one of the scariest sites in Ohio — and Discover Vermilion does a fantastic job telling it right here

• The collection of the Midwest Railway Preservation Society in Cleveland includes a Lackawanna Railroad passenger car with a morbid history. Two trains collided near Wayland, New York, in 1943. The boiler on a steam locomotive blew, spewing steam into the train car, scalding 26 people to death. The car was salvageable — and reused, eventually coming into the possession of the society.

The train car is supposedly haunted by no fewer than 17 spirits, the most prominent of which is the man in a tweed suit, who has been spotted sitting on the car’s roof, or coming along for tours. Roundhouse supervisor Steve Korpos says he was giving a tour on the car when someone asked, “Are you going to let the guy next to you talk?” He says as many as 20 people said they saw a man in a brown tweed suit. “I guess you all just met the ghost,” Korpos told them.

• Texas Road between Windsor and Amherstburg in Canada is supposed to be home to a ghost as well. Robert Honor, an area historian, says the intersection of Texas and Third Concession roads acquired the nickname of Hell’s Corner, with a multitude of bars and trouble that accompanied them. One night, a bunch of drunken rowdies chased a local Indian woman until she drowned in the local mill pond. “Her ghost still haunts that area,” Honor says. “People still see glowing lights down by the water.”

• The River Raisin Battlefield near Monroe, Michigan, was the site of one of the bloodiest events in American history. American soldiers were unprepared for an attack by the British and Indians during the War of 1812, and nearly 400 were killed in the battle. An additional number — anywhere from 30 to 100 — were killed in what became known as the River Raisin Massacre. Local ghost hunters can feel spectral presences and have even seen a phantom soldier riding a horse. “You can feel the sadness and fear, like you’re walking into a fog of it,” says Robin Lemkie, founder of Ghost Hunters of Southern Michigan.

• The Erie Cemetery in Pennsylvania is home to what’s become known as the Vampire’s Crypt. It was the first mausoleum built in the cemetery, which opened in 1850. Atop the door into the crypt is a V with apparent bat wings, leading to the nickname — along with a tale of a series of suspicious deaths in the 1890s that resembled vampire attacks. “The caretaker caught the vampire going into the crypt and burnt him,” says Robin Swope, a local minister known as the “paranormal pastor” for his expertise in local ghost stories. “But his ghost sticks around.” If you dare, you can take your own tour of the cemetery — or wait for occasional historical tours led by Erie Arts and Culture.

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