The Travel Channel posted a short video titled The Michigan Triangle that hypothesizes that the many mysterious disappearances of planes and ships along this section of Lake Michigan might be the result of a supernatural triangle (1).
The Bermuda Triangle is one of the most noted areas of mysterious plane and ship/boat disappearances. However, there are many others that aren’t as well-known to the world, such as the Bridgewater Triangle in Massachusetts (2).
The area designated as The Michigan Triangle is created by drawing a triangle from three points–Benton Harbor, Michigan, Manitowoc, Wisconsin and Ludington, Michigan.
The 400 mile long lake is known for its squalls with winds that can reach up to 75 mph. Some researchers believe these horrendous weather conditions can account for many of the unexplained disappearances on or over the lake. However, squalls can’t explain some of the most mysterious cases.
Northwest Flight 2501
One of the most mysterious disappearances over Lake Michigan occurred in 1950 when the Northwest Airlines flight 2501, carrying 58 people, crashed into Lake Michigan. The plane was never found.
This DC-4 propliner was a daily transcontinental flight that traveled from New York City to Seattle. On June 23, 1950, it disappeared along with the 55 passengers and 3 crew members (3).
This was the “deadliest commercial airliner accident in American history at the time.” Only 18 miles NNW of Benton Harbor, Michigan, the plane was flying 3,500 feet above the lake when it vanished. The pilot had just requested to descend to 2,500 “because of a severe electrical storm which was lashing the lake with high velocity winds” when the blip on the radar disappeared.
Despite the use of sonar and trawlers dragging the bottom of the lake, no wreckage was ever recovered. There were signs of the crash floating on the lake surface, such as upholstery, pieces of human remains.
With no wreckage recovered, the cause of the crash remains unknown to this day. However, it’s very possible that the plane was struck by lightning or suffered some other mechanical failure due to the reported high winds.
Subsequently, two mass graves, one in St. Joseph area and another in South Haven were discovered decades later. Unfortunately, the victims’ families weren’t notified of the burials.
Mysterious Disappearance of Captain Donner
One of the most bizarre cases is the highly documented disappearance of Captain George R. Donner of O.M. McFarland, a lake freighter. On April 28, 1937, Captain Donner simply vanished from his cabin (4).
Captain Donner had spent hours and hours on the bridge making sure his ship maneuvered the ice floes as he guided the freighter through the lake locks along the upper part of the Great Lakes. Once the ship was out of danger and had entered the waters of Lake Michigan, the captain went to his cabin for much needed sleep. Exhausted, he left instructions to call him when they drew near Port Washington.
Around three hours later, the second mate went to rouse the captain since the freighter was nearing the port. The Captain’s door was locked from the inside. Upon breaking in, the mate discovered the captain’s cabin was empty. He headed for the galley surmising that the captain might be grabbing a quick meal, but Captain Donner hadn’t been to the galley.
A search was initiated, but the crew couldn’t find their captain anywhere on the vessel. There were no clues left behind and Donner’s disappearance remains a mystery to this day. The OM McFarland was inside the Michigan Triangle at the time Donner disappeared.
Underwater Ancient Rock Formation Discovered
Some theorists contend that the 2007 discovery of a 40-foot ring of rocks resting underneath Lake Michigan waters might be the cause of the disappearances. The rocks display prehistoric carvings, but more importantly, these stone alignments are very similar to those of Stonehenge and other stone circles in Europe.
In 2007, Northwestern Michigan College professor of underwater archeology, Mark Holley discovered this circle of stones that span 40 feet – underneath the lake surface. One of the stones that rests outside the circle has what appears to be carvings of a mastodon.
This elephant like animal has been extinct for at least 10,000 years. The discovery was quite accidental since the team were hired to map old boat wrecks with sonar. They expected to find sunken vessels and found cars as well as a pier dating from the Civil-War era. The discovery of the stone circle was a big surprise.
NBC Chicago quoted Holley about the discovery, “When you see it in the water, you’re tempted to say this is absolutely real,” Holley told reporters at the time. “But that’s what we need the experts to come in and verify (5).”
The Great Lakes Triangle
In 1977, Jay Gurley’s book The Great Lakes Triangle was released. Gourley, a former aviator, believes that “the Great Lakes account for more unexplained disappearances per unit area than the Bermuda Triangle.” What makes this statement so incredible is the size of the “Bermuda Triangle is 16 times larger than the Great Lakes.”
Gourley writes that the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) “years ago instituted a special ‘Lake Reporting Service;’ pilots on Great Lakes overflights make continuous reports to ground stations. A 10-minute delay in such a report automatically launches search-and-rescue operation. This service has saved many lives that would have been lost to ordinary accidents, but the high incidence of inexplicable disasters has remained unaffected” (6).
Other stories surrounding the lake include “Sea monsters, ghost ships, disappearing planes and crew members and unidentified flying objects [UFOs].
Along with the unexplained disappearances of planes and ships, there have been numerous mysterious UFO reports. Lake Michigan has long been considered a hot bed for UFO sightings. Just visit MUFON for an idea how many UFO reports have been file (7).
Whatever the cause of so many unexplained disappearances in this region remains a mystery for now.
References & Image Credits:
(1) Travel Channel
(2) TSW: My Drive Through the Haunted Bridgewater Triangle
(3) Wikipedia: Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 2501
(4) Weird Michigan: Your Travel Guide to Michigan’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets
(5) NBC Chicago
(6) WZZM 13
(8) Lake Michigan Photo