Michigan's Most Haunted Bridges - The Mackinac Bridge #hauntedbridges

The Mackinac Bridge has been a symbol of Michigan since it opened in 1957. The glorious suspension bridge graces Michigan license plates, driver’s licenses, tickets, artwork, and tourist items.

Before the bridge opened on November 1, 1957, there was a ferry system in place that shuttled cars and passengers between Michigan’s lower and upper peninsulas.

It’s not surprising that a bridge of this magnitude and age has a few ghost stories attached to it.

Honestly, I’m just surprised there aren’t more.

Most of the spirit sightings appear as normal people walking across the bridge…then they disappear when you approach them. Some people have also claimed to hear a baby crying though there are no records that can be found concerning the death of an infant on the bridge.

But there are many other deaths connected to the Mighty Mac.

On September 10, 1978 three Marine Corps Reserve officers died when their private aircraft collided with one of the suspender cables. The impact occurred 80 feet above the roadway and 120 feet south of the north tower. No damage occurred to the bridge but the wings of the Cessna 182 were sheared off. Visibility issues from fog were determined to be the cause of the crash.

Police divers recovered two bodies on the day of the accident. The third was recovered inside the sunken plane the next day. The men who perished were identified as Major Virgil Osborne, Captain Wayne Wisbrock, and Captain James Robbins.

5 men were killed during the construction of the bridge and another died during maintenance in 1997.

Over the years there have been a number of suicides and accidental deaths. According to the Battle Creek Enquirer a Livingston County resident died after jumping off the Mackinac Bridge in April 2014. In January 2010, a Gaylord nurse jumped to her death off the bridge, and in 2007, three people jumped to their deaths in separate incidents.

The most famous incident occurred on September 22, 1989, when 31-year-old Leslie Ann Pluhar was speeding across the bridge at 60 mph in her 1987 Yugo. 48-mph wind gusts caused her to lose control. "Her car veered left onto the bridge's 4-inch-high median and then back across the northbound lanes, hitting a curb and jumping an outer guardrail." (Detroit Free Press) The little car plunged off the Mackinac Bridge into the icy waters of the Straits of Mackinac. 

The horrifying accident gripped the state with terror and made national headlines.

Leslie’s family suffered for eight days while waiting for her body to be recovered. Because of stormy conditions, the crews couldn’t get in the water to search. The depth of the vehicle in the cold water was also a factor in the recovery delay. They finally found the vehicle using sonar 4 days into the search. It was perched on a ledge about 150- feet below the surface but they had to wait another 4 days to retrieve it because the weather was so stormy.

It took 12 divers over 10 hours to pull the crumpled Yugo from the murky water. Pluhar's family watched from a small boat close by. Hundreds of people gathered in Mackinaw City to witness the grisly reveal as the cold waters finally released the wrecked vehicle. It was so mangled from the impact it took them hours to remove Pluhar's body so her family could positively identify her.

For years Michigan residents wondered how could such an accident happen? Was the bridge not safe to cross?

Lawsuits plagued the Mackinac Bridge Authority and the Michigan Department of Transportation for years until 1994 when they were finally settled.

The bridge’s safety measures were not changed and driver error was considered to be the cause of Leslie’s accident. 

A thorough report of the incident can be found in the book Mackinac Bridge A 50 Year Chronicle by Mike Fornes.

On March 2, 1997, 25-year-old Richard Alan Daraban drove his Ford Bronco off the Bridge.  On purpose. Richard paid his toll and then raced across the bridge at 65 mph before sharply swerving, going over the guardrail, and plunging into the icy straits below. The incident was considered to be a suicide.

The Straits of Mackinac and nearby Mackinac Island have their fair share of ghostly tales.

A spectral ship, the W.H. Gilcher, haunts the straits and there are over one hundred reports of hauntings on the island. It’s no wonder that a historical area that has seen bloodshed and battle would have ghosts.

The W.H. Gilcher sank in the stormy waters of Lake Michigan on October 28, 1892, just two months after its sister ship, the Western Reserve, went down in Lake Superior.

The Gilcher was last seen passing through the Straits of Mackinac with a crew of twenty one men. When morning came and the storm had cleared all that was left of the ship was debris floating in the straits near the entrance to Lake Michigan. The crew all perished and the wreck was never found.

But the spectral W.H. Gilcher has been spotted on occasion just north of Presque Isle near Mackinac Island. Sometimes just a glimpse of it is caught in the fog of the straits and the eerie sound of a long-ago fog horn blows to shore.

The ghost of Captain Lloyd Weeks has been seen at the wheel when the phantom ship has sailed into calm waters under the bright sun happy to be out of the fog.

Ghosts have been reported all over Mackinac Island. The Grand Hotel, rumored to have been built over several burial grounds, has had numerous reports of ghostly activity. 

Spectral soldiers and Victorian-era spooks haunt the halls of the Grand. A man in a top hat likes to appear in the piano bar before disappearing in a  puff of smoke and lingering song. A Victorian lady loves to curl up with hotel employees while they’re trying to sleep and maintenance men have given terrified reports of encountering an evil entity with glowing red eyes. The black shadowy mass attacked one man sending him to the hospital. He was so scared he refused to return to the hotel.

Another haunted hot spot is the Mission Point Resort where the spirit of a spurned student who committed suicide haunts the grounds. He tends to be a flirt and likes to pinch and poke female visitors and play practical jokes. Spectral Native Americans and soldiers are often seen walking the grounds of the resort.

Pine Cottage and the Island House Hotel have ghost stories, too. The island also has spooky tales about The Drowning Pool, Devil’s Kitchen, and numerous cemetery haunts.

One of the best articles about Pluhar's accident

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