Known as “America’s Dairyland,” Wisconsin is famous for its cheese, breweries, the Green Bay Packers, and outdoor recreation. At Mysterious Heartland, we cannot help loving a state known for how much beer its residents consume. As previously noted, the German and Scandinavian heritage of its residents has created a curious blend of Midwestern folklore. Wisconsin is also a very haunted state, with foreboding roads, abandoned mansions, and bloody brides, but which location will prove to be the most haunted of them all?
10. Boy Scout Lane
Stevens Point, Wisconsin
Though not based in fact, gruesome tales continue to persist about this dead end road west of the Wisconsin River. The road, it is said, was named in honor of several Boy Scouts who died there in the distant past. How they died is up for debate. Some say the scouts were murdered by their bus driver. Others say the scouts became lost in the woods and were never found. Still others say a scout dropped his kerosene lantern, starting a fire that killed the other members of his troop. Since then, visitors to Boy Scout Lane have seen a light that gently bobs through the trees. It is believed to be the light from the lantern that started the fire, or someone searching for the missing scouts.
9. The Grand Opera House
The Grand Opera House, located on High Avenue in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, is believed to be haunted by the ghost of Percy Keene, who was stage manager there for several decades. The opera house was built in 1883 and held 921 seats. It began to show motion pictures in 1948, but the declining economy put it in jeopardy. The local government stepped in to save the theater. Much of the activity in the Grand occurs around the balcony, where Percy Keene has been spotted several times. A phantom dog has also been seen. A light director saw the dog on stage and asked the actors to remove it. The actors, however, had not seen any dog, but encounters continued. Phantom footsteps have also been reported, as well as a strange orange mist on stage.
8. Marquette University
Marquette University was founded in 1881 as a Jesuit, Roman Catholic university and named after 17th Century missionary and explorer Father Jacques Marquette. It is situated near the heart of Milwaukee. Johnston Hall is the oldest academic building at Marquette and was reportedly built over an American Indian settlement (some say over a burial ground). It was originally used as a home for Marquette’s Jesuit professors, and a priest allegedly hung himself in his room on the fifth floor. The ghosts of children haunt other parts of campus. Glenn Humphrey Hall, a student apartment complex, was originally the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Marquette University acquired it in 1988, and since that time, students have reportedly heard screaming children. On the fifth floor, the ghost of a young girl has been seen, but she is shy and vanishes when approached. “Whispering Willie,” a boy who drowned in the pool when East Hall was home to the YMCA, haunts that building.
7. Witch Road
As motorists drive down Callan Road at night, the gnarled branches of barren trees cast frightening shadows in their car headlights. Some of these trees begin to take the form of a twisted old crone. The spirit of a witch, they say, inhabits these woods. The remnants of her old house can be found in the woods off to the side of the road. Some visitors have reported seeing the ghost of an adolescent girl hiding behind the trees, still trying to escape the clutches of the witch. Additionally, strange flashing lights have been spotted deep in the woods, and the sound of trickling water echoes down the lonely road at night. Witch Road is not for the faint of heart!
6. Dartford Cemetery
Green Lake, Wisconsin
A variety of ghosts are said to inhabit this garden-like cemetery, which sits on either side of North Street in the town of Green Lake, Wisconsin. One of the most prominent ghosts is that of Chief Highknocker (Hanageh), who drowned in 1911. He was attempting to swim across a river on his way to the shores of Green Lake, which was considered sacred by American Indians. According to another legend, visitors who sit atop a mausoleum on the south side of Dartford Cemetery will be shoved off by the ghostly hands of one of the children interred there. Additionally, soldiers from the Civil War era, dark figures, orbs of light, and even strange sounds have all been encountered at Dartford.
5. Bloody Bride Bridge
Stevens Point, Wisconsin
Locally, this stretch of County Highway 66 is known as “Bloody Bride Road” because of a tragic accident that occurred there long ago. Although local law enforcement agencies deny the incident took place, according to popular memory, a bride and groom were driving home from their wedding when their car spun out of control on this concrete bridge over the Plover River east of Jordan. Both were willed. Years later, a local police officer struck a woman wearing a wedding dress with his squad car. When he got out to investigate, he was startled to see the bloody figure of the woman in his backseat. Others have seen the bloody bride standing on the bridge in the rain. According to legend, if you stop your car on the bridge after midnight and look in your rearview mirror, you will see both the bride and groom sitting in your backseat.
Land O’Lakes, Wisconsin
This former mansion overlooking West Bay Lake was once a summer home for Robert P. Lamont, Secretary of Commerce for President Herbert Hoover. He built the home in 1916, and according to legend, he was immediately bothered by ghosts. After his death, the property passed through several owners before being purchased by the Hinshaws in the early 1970s. They reportedly saw shadowy figures and heard strange voices throughout the house. Arnold Hinshaw claimed to discover human remains behind a secret door in the closet, though never officially reported it. The next owner, Raymond Bober, was convinced that the ghost of an 18th Century British explorer named Jonathan Carver wanted to help him locate a deed hidden in the home’s foundation. The house was abandoned in the 1980s, struck by lightning, and burned to the ground. Today, its remains are still hidden in the woods along West Bay Lake.
3. Ripon College
Ripon College is a small liberal arts college with a student population of only 930. It was founded in 1851, and has a number of notable alumni, including Harrison Ford. For such a small school, Ripon has more than its fair share of resident spirits. Oddly enough, most of these ghosts have manifested as auditory phenomenon. On one occasion, an injured football player got an unwelcome interruption as he lay down to rest in Room 104 of Brockway Hall. Phantom knocks brought him to the door three times. Each time, he discovered no one there. Another football player heard his name being called and awoke to see a gray figure. In Hughes House, a group of freshman girls heard wailing coming from the upper floor and saw shadows moving around. One of the most well-known campus ghosts is that of Raphael. He began to make his presence known after a fire in the Red Barn Theater in 1964. He also manifests with footsteps, wails, and other strange sounds.
2. Hotel Hell
Maribel Caves Hotel, or “Hotel Hell” as it came to be known, is located on the site of a health spa that operated in the late 1800s. The hotel itself was built in 1900 by Father Francis and Eugene Steinbrecker, sons of the designer, who died before construction started. It was built with limestone blocks, giving it a fort-like appearance. Thousands of people came there every year to drink the Maribel Spring water that was bottled next door. A fire broke out in the hotel in the summer of 1985, and it closed soon after. A whole host of legends have sprung up around its empty husk. In addition to the usual floating objects, feelings of unease, apparitions, and the touch of unseen hands, there are wild stories of occult practices as well. According to one tale, a coven of black witches opened a portal to Hell, unleashing unpleasant spirits that are now trapped in the former hotel. The building was destroyed in a storm in 2013.
1. The Pfister Hotel
The Pfister Hotel was built for an extravagant $1 million in 1893 and contains the largest collection of Victorian artwork of any hotel in the world. It is a member of Historic Hotels of America, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Pfister Hotel is also famously haunted by the ghost of its namesake, Charles Pfister. MLB players who have stayed there are open about their encounters with the otherworldly. Michael Young of the Phillies told ESPN Magazine, “Oh, f— that place. Listen, I’m not someone who spreads ghost stories, so if I’m telling you this, it happened. A couple of years ago, I was lying in bed after a night game, and I was out. My room was locked, but I heard these footsteps inside my room, stomping around… so I yelled out, ‘Hey! Make yourself at home. Hang out, have a seat, but do not wake me up, okay?’ After that, I didn’t hear a thing for the rest of the night.” Despite all the hair-raising stories, this world-class hotel continues to attract guests and charges upwards of $250 a night.
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