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Today in Lansing: Michigan’s Ghostly Beacons


Dianna Stampfler Presentation

6:30 to 8 p.m.

DeWitt District Library

13101 Schavey Rd., DeWitt

Click here for event page

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 17 — President of Promote Michigan and “Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses” author Dianna Stampfler presents the stories of Michigan’s haunted lighthouses and private lives of lighthouse keepers, alive and dead.

Being a keeper was grueling work at times, Stampfler said.

“The lighthouse keepers would have maintained the light in the tower throughout the night, carrying buckets of hot oil to the top of the tower regularly, trimming the wick, polishing the Fresnel lens, keeping the house and grounds in order — even assisting with life saving efforts when accidents happened in the nearby waters.”

Often, wives or children would aide a keeper if there was no assistant assigned to the tower, she added.

Stampfler, who’s presented on the topic for 20 years, will cover lighthouses known to be a hotbed of paranormal activity, such as the Seul Choix Point Light, White River Light Station and Waugoshance Shoal.

These keepers were very dedicated to the craft, some serving as long as over 40 years.

“Some died during their years in service. As such, they choose to stay on after passing out of this life.”

It was a government assigned position seeing a lot of service from Civil War veterans, Stampfler said. “Two such examples were Captain James S. Donahue from South Haven and Keeper Aaron Sheridan at South Manitou Island.”

Stampfler first discovered Michigan’s rich lighthouse history in 1997, while working for the West Michigan Tourist Association in Grand Rapids. “It was my first real project with them and I was instantly hooked. During that time, I started to notice themes: Many of the lighthouses had female keepers and many were rumored to be haunted,” Stampfler said.

“I’ve never had an experience at any of the lights myself, but I’ve heard or experienced other strange things at buildings around Michigan and the United States in the past.”

Stampfler will publish her book, “Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses,” in Spring 2019 under the History Press division of Arcadia Publishing.

Though the advent of GPS technology put lighthouses out of service, they still receive care through a patchwork of organizations.

“Though many of the lighthouses have been replaced with modern technology, they’re still vital to Michigan’s rich maritime heritage,” Stampfler said. “Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state — 120 plus — and most are under the care of nonprofit groups to maintain them for future generations.”

Other events in Lansing:

Halloween Makeup Workshops

6 to 8:30 p.m., $25, The Downeaster Theatre, 1120 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Lansing

Conversations to Save the World

7 to 8:30 p.m., Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, 547 E. Circle Dr., East Lansing

Annual Michigan Art in the Legislature Opening Reception

2 to 5 p.m., Senate Committee Room 1100 in the Binsfeld Office Building, 201 Townsend St., Lansing


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