Michigan has more lighthouses than any state in the union. Most of those are haunted. Meet Dianna Stampfler who literally wrote the book on these ghost-infested landmarks. We talk about Michigan’s top 3 most haunted lighthouses.
Enjoy this spooky episode!
Her Book: Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses
The Book’s Website: MIHauntedLighthouses.com
Cliff Duvernois: [00:00:00] hello everyone. And welcome to the show. My name is Cliff DuVernois. And as of this recording, we are entering the 2020 home stretch. And I have to tell you, I absolutely just love, love, love this time of the year. It’s like we get the trifecta of the best holidays. All back to back, you get Halloween Thanksgiving, and then finally Christmas.
It is awesome. And Halloween is just a few days of way. And today we actually have the lady who literally wrote the book on Michigan’s haunted lighthouses. She’s also the founder of promotes Michigan, ladies and gentlemen, please. Welcome to the show. Diana . Diana, how are you?
Dianna Stampfler, Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses: [00:00:38] I’m doing great today, cliff, how are you?
Cliff Duvernois: [00:00:40] I’m doing well. Thank you for asking.
So to get the ball rolling. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about where you’re from.
Dianna Stampfler, Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses: [00:00:47] Ah, well, that’s a very rounded question. I was born and raised in Southwest Michigan, a small town called Plainwell. I went to Western Michigan university where I majored in print and broadcast journalism. but I currently reside in Walloon Lake, which might be notable to some folks as the summer home of Nobel and Pulitzer prize, winning author, Ernest Hemingway.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:01:10] So that’s kind of cool. And now I’m going to kind of jump ahead a little bit, because you’ve written this book on lighthouses and I know that you’ve got other books that are in the mix right now. Is this playing some kind of influence on you?
Dianna Stampfler, Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses: [00:01:23] Well, I’ve been a writer my whole life. I mean, I have my journals from elementary school. I was writing poetry and shorts. Stories from my grandparents as a child, I was editor of my school paper. I taught journalism. So writing has always been part of my, my makeup and storytelling as well. I grew up my dad’s a radio broadcaster, so I just kind of grew up in this perfect environment that allowed for what finally happened.
I mean, at these ghost stories. In my book have been in my brain for 25 years and it just took a little time to actually put them to paper and get them in published form.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:02:03] Now what, what sparked your interest in, in collecting these ghost stories, especially around Michigan’s lighthouses.
Dianna Stampfler, Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses: [00:02:11] Well, my background in lighthouse really started in, in the late nineties, I worked for a nonprofit in grand Rapids called the West Michigan tourist association and organization I’m still very active with. And one of the projects that I had with them was the publication of the Lake Michigan circle tour in lighthouse.
Magazine. And I started with them and my first job was to catalog all of the lighthouse on Lake Michigan. There’s about 120 and it was a kind of a spreadsheet. So we had the lighthouse and what city it was in, but there were, there were these columns that I had to fill in. And you know, how tall was the tower?
Was it an act of light? Did it have its original for now lens? was there a museum, was there a gift shop? Could you spend the night, was there a keeper program? And one of the columns was. Was it haunted. And I remember early on not really understanding the, the, the whole dynamic of it all, but you know, in talking with these various lighthouse groups, I’d put an X or I wouldn’t put an X.
Well, it wasn’t, you know, the internet was very new back then. I was the only one on staff with an actual email address. And so over time, as more things became available, online, more research, I traveled more. I started hearing more of what these actual stories and. And it became more than just a check Mark in a box.
It became the story of a kid or that that may have lost their lives or have a shipwreck that happened. And these stories really started to take form. And then I started to talk with people. Who were visiting and had these experiences at the light houses themselves. So it just really evolved in about 20, about 10, 12 years ago, 15 years ago, I started doing presentations back at libraries and such where I was using actually slide carousels that tells you how long ago it was. And. And telling these stories and, and they just kept getting more and more popular I’ve speaker Bureau program. But this one just seemed to really draw the people and, and it’s, it’s all ages, you know, kids love to hear these stories and older folks do. So it just kind of evolved. From from there. And so I’d been writing articles and talking about it and, and, three years ago, the history press and Arcadia publishing reached out and said, you know, we have, we have this haunted series of books, haunted America series.
And, and they sell really well. And we. Always do really well with lighthouse titles. We want put them together into one book. Would you write it? Apparently they do Googled the topic and I’d written enough articles and given enough presentations that my name kept appearing as a, I guess, an expert in this area.
And they reached out and I thought about it for a long time. But it took the push from them to them to come to me and say, we want you to write this book for us. And, it was great. I got to pick which lights to include. I mean, Michigan has about 130 lights and about 40 or 45 of those are rumored to be haunted in some way.
And I got to pick which one. So I picked 13 because I mean, cliff, if you’re going to write about haunted stuff, You need to pick 13, right? Isn’t that the logical number? And so I spread them out geographically based, which Lake and it, which had the best stories, which ones I had, the photos and the supporting documents for, and, and the book really at that point.
Wrote itself and just became, you know, filling in some very specific details. And it launched in March of 19 and they printed a thousand copies at the onset and it was sold out in two weeks. So that was pretty exciting. That really, really was.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:05:51] So I have to say, I know a few people who are writers that would probably give their left arm, not their right arm. Cause that’s what they hold the pencil in, would give their left arm to have a publisher, tap them on the shoulder and say, you need to write a book. What was that like to have them just kind of push you like that?
Dianna Stampfler, Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses: [00:06:09] Well, I think it was the nudge that I really needed. I mean, people had asked me when I was giving presentations and I always take these other books from other. authors, Fred Stonehouse, a historian out of the upper peninsula touches on a lot of these ghost stories in, in his various titles. And I know he’s probably got like 50 titles and so I would take other books with me and people go, where’s your book?
And I’m like, well, I really don’t have one, but you know, if you want more, you should look at these books. And so people were asking and I, and, and friends were asking and I always thought about doing it. but when the publisher came in and it was someone like the history press, I mean, before this, I, I have probably 40 books in my collection alone that are by published by the same, company.
And so it really helped. And when they came in and they, the, the guidance is very, Hands off. I mean, you pick the stories. They basically, they said you need to be between 30 and 40,000 words. You need three to four pictures or graphic images for each chapter and no more than 50 images. And here’s the deadline.
And the rest of it. I got to choose, I got to pick the photos. I made them the choice, or recommendation on the cover shot, which is the, Saginaw rear range light, over in, in, on Saginaw Bay. And they were, they were great to work with. they, they let me do it. They were just on me enough to make sure that I was meeting my deadlines.
which is what I really needed. And I instead, the help of family, friends, my daughter, was a proofreader for me, my best friend. read it. One of my other friends. Who’s an English teacher proof read it for me. and my dad who is a genealogist, in addition to being a broadcaster, was helping me dig up information.
If I was hitting a roadblock with, with finding census data or death records, he would go in and in fact, one of the greatest revelations. In the book, regarding the Walker shots show light near Mackinaw city was a result of, of something that my dad stumbled on. And it contradicted a story about the keeper that I’d been telling for 20 years and how he died.
And so that was just a really exciting thing to happen, in, as part of the research.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:08:16] Sure thing. And what is it? So I know you said before that you were working on this project and they had this box on a form. They said, is this a lighthouse wanted, which part of me finds that mildly entertaining, but is this like house laundry haunted did, did, did you already have kind of like a, sort of like an interest in.
The paranormal before you started this, how did you get it? And all their thought? I don’t believe in such things. What, what kind of, what kind of sparked this?
Dianna Stampfler, Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses: [00:08:44] I really had no knowledge or interest of it either way at that point, this was a 1997, but I also, at that point, didn’t really understand the scope of lighthouses in Michigan either. I mean, I grew up. Just North of Kalamazoo. So when I was a kid, when we went to the beach, we would either go to South Haven or Holland, and both of those towns have lighthouses and I’m sure as a child, I saw them, but I had no real.
You know, knowledge of the fact that Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state, as well as Mormon. How’s a freshwater coastline that the impact that these lighthouses had in our earliest industries, whether that was the shipping, whether that was agriculture for fishing, in, in later years, tourism, you know, there was a history that dated back to the 1820s.
I didn’t know any of that. I’m like, Oh, well, yeah, I guess it makes sense. We have lighthouses because we have, you know, this, this great Lake here. But at that point, that project really opened my eyes to so many different things. In fact, working at WMCA in general, I didn’t really understand what the tourism industry was or what the impact of travel and tourism was to the state of Michigan.
Until that time, even though, you know, I would travel to traverse city and I would travel to the upper peninsula, you know, my senior year between high school and college, my dad and I spent it traveling through Mackinaw on the UPA and along the Lake, Michigan shoreline. And I was a tourist. But I didn’t really understand the scope of it all and day, you know, that’s how I make a living.
I am so fortunate that I get to survive. COVID civic sitting at home, writing articles and doing social media and promoting the, the people, the places and the products of our state, and calling it a job. It’s amazing.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:10:34] Yeah, it definitely is. And with regards to, with regards to the, the light houses, and I know that that you’re. That your book is very well researched. And, some of these stories in here have giving me the goosebumps, but you also have gone, gone and done paranormal investigations inside of these lighthouses.
Now for that to happen, did you reach out to like local paranormal groups or something to work with them? Did you, did you just, you know, watch something on TV and say, Hey, if those guys can do it, I can do it too. I mean, how did, how did you, how did you make that happen?
Dianna Stampfler, Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses: [00:11:12] Well, my first real investigation, into this was for South Manitou Island lighthouse, which is in the book and in the summer of 2005, which is, right around the time that I started my company. I was actually invited to give a presentation. In empire, in the sleeping bear dunes area with the Manatee Memorial society.
And I said, all right, well, if I’m going to do that, here’s what I want is my compensation. I want to go to the Island cause I had not been to South Manitou. I knew it was the Island itself has a lot of lower res a lighthouse particularly said, I want to go to the Island, a tour, the tower and that summer.
So after I gave the presentation, they sent me over on the ferry. They put me up and let me stay in the coast guard station for the weekend, which is unheard of. It’s rustic, camping out there. And at the end of the day of the park range, toss me the keys to the lighthouse tower and said, lock it up when you’re done.
And I had a free pass and it was, I remember the day it was July 30th, cause it was my daughter’s birthday and I got in trouble for missing her birthday and being on the Island. but we went to the top of the tower and it was a full moon. It was a blue moon actually. So the second full moon in that month and we sat at the top or where we kind of made our way up.
And, and you know, if you’ve been through a lighthouse, they have landings up along the tower. So we knew that they had, there were rumors that you could hear crying and talking, coming in while you were in the tower, mostly coming from the house itself. And so we went and we sat on each landing and listen, nothing next landing, nothing.
Even the landing that connected the Causeway connected to the light, to the house itself. Nothing. We got to the top of the tower sitting up there watching freighters, the sun, setting the moon’s coming up. Not one peep from any of these ghosts people. Now, I really didn’t know what I was doing. I wasn’t, you know, I didn’t have gadgets.
I didn’t have spirit box and all of these things that you see on TV I do now, but I didn’t then, to, to do anything, I just sat there and listened and thought, well, you know, if I’m going to hear something, maybe I’ll hear something. And I tell you what, even after consuming two bottles of wine at the top of that tower, we did not have a ghostly experience.
I tried. I tried, that was my very first one. And I, again, I didn’t really know. I just, I had heard stories and so we went to visit. To see what might happen. I’m the same, same for several of the other lights. Now I turn the manuscript in, in the fall, right after labor day of 2018. And that November, excuse me, that October right around Halloween.
I went down to Fort grass at, which is important here on it’s Michigan’s oldest lighthouse dates back to 1825 and they work with a local paranormal group. And the public can pay to go on an investigation, I think is like 50 bucks a person. And you’re there for six hours and you rotate through different buildings and you don’t have to have your own gear, your own ghost hunting gear.
They give you things. They give you a heat sensors, which now we’re known for taking our temperature to see if you have COVID. Is ironic because now I have one of those, so I have dual purposes for it. and they gave you sound, they give you spirit boxes and in divining rods and all of these other things, and you go through the investigations.
And so when we were down there, that, that fall, we had, some interesting. drops in temperature, which is usually an indication that there is some kind of a spirit in that area. We had, the, different words coming up out of the spirit box, that were supporting past stories that I’d heard.
Cause I mean, I clearly knew these stories of these keepers going into this investigation. but when you have things that reinforce that. it’s really kind of interesting. And so, we have some video. What is the most, the most compelling things are video that we have, of. Flashlights. They basically take the little mag lights and they put it in a binder clip and set it on the floor and they ask questions and they ask the spirit to turn the lights off or on.
And we have video of the lights actually turning off and on. And, and you know, if you have those flashlights, you have to actually turn the bottom. It’s. It’s a lot of energy, you know, for a spirit to turn that. And we have this video, one of the most interesting things we didn’t even realize we had until later my boyfriend who was with me had taken very few photos.
I, you know, I go to an investigation, I’m taking a hundred photos and 50 videos and he took like five photos. We get back and. At the beginning, the first thing we did it was a very gray, rainy day is take pictures of the lighthouse tower. So I have mine and your, you know, three pictures of the tower. He took three pictures of the tower and all of them were upside down
Cliff Duvernois: [00:16:03] Whoa.
Dianna Stampfler, Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses: [00:16:04] before were right side up. And all the pictures after were right side up. So three pictures, they were all upside down, but later, and I’ll send you this personally, just so you can see it. And if people come to my presentation, they’ll see it on the big screen as well. is he took this picture at the base of the tower.
The tower was the last building that we went in and he had gone to the top. I erotically I’m afraid of Heights and I will not climb towers. Yeah. So he, part of our relationship agreement is he has to climb the tower. So he went up and took the picture of the tower. He takes this picture, looking down and the lights on in the tower, the hall light, not the light in the top of the tower where he takes a picture of the spiral staircase from the top.
And it was we’re reviewing the photos later. And then when he got there, we got down, we were looking and he had another picture taken at the base of the tower and it was. You could see the, kind of the shadow of the spiral staircase. You could see one of the windows in the tower and you could see the brick, but what you could also see was the grass, the sidewalk, and the lights in the park, outside the tower. It was like a dual image, like a double exposure, which I don’t think is an option on the galaxy phone, but maybe it is. I mean, I don’t know, I’m an iPhone person, so yeah. You know, I don’t, I don’t think that the galaxy really allows for double exposure, digital images. and when we blew it up, You can actually see, just, you can see lights on in the fog signal building, which if you blow out the wall of the tower, that building is where it showed up in the picture.
So he was getting images inside and outside in one picture. But that wasn’t the weirdest part. If you look at the timestamp on those two images, which he still has on his phone, they were taken something like 23 seconds apart. No, I don’t know any human. Who can go down a set of spiral stairs in a lighthouse that quickly
Cliff Duvernois: [00:18:05] Yes. Well, the only way I know of is to fall.
Dianna Stampfler, Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses: [00:18:09] Right. And he clearly didn’t fall, but you know, if you’re, if you’re a spirited energy, that’s nothing. And that was the weird, like it actually the image itself we saw and we blew it up on the TV. It wasn’t for like two weeks until we kept, we couldn’t get it out of our head. And we went back and looked and that’s when we realized he’s like the timestamp and I’m like, that’s just weird.
Like, how do you, how do you do that? How do you go down a hundred plus spiral stairs in 20 seconds?
Cliff Duvernois: [00:18:42] Right.
Dianna Stampfler, Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses: [00:18:43] So that was what that’s, like I said, the sad thing is, is that, that, that story, your, your listeners are gonna get to hear it. And if you come to one of my programs, you’ll hear it, but it’s not in the book because the book had already been turned in.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:18:57] Yeah. Just your luck, right.
Dianna Stampfler, Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses: [00:18:59] well, you know what? It gives some, give somebody a reason to come listen to the live presentation. I guess when we are allowed to have them again.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:19:06] You bet, you bet. And I find it. I want to go back to something that you mentioned earlier. I found it really interesting that, when you go on one of these investigations with these purnomo groups, they actually give you a equipment to use, because I know I’ll be completely honest with you. The spirit box.
Is pure evil. I, every time I’m watching a show, one of these ghost Hunter shows and they pull out the spirit box. I hate it. I can’t stand. I, I just, Oh my God. Because yeah, the, the words, you know, the sentences that have come from those spirit boxes and the range from, you know, let’s say like it could go from a female, no voice to a male voice.
And there’s been some times where the voice is actually correct. Wild and, yeah, that’s, that’s all that would just freak me out.
Dianna Stampfler, Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses: [00:19:49] Well, they don’t let you just like roam around by yourself with it. They are there. so I would imagine if somebody was there and is, is notably calling. So many demons, they probably are gonna put us put a stop to that. yeah, so, so, and I do get it. I mean, it is funny. Yeah. Yeah. Cause now I have this, I have a kit.
Cause in addition to doing the lighthouses, we visit a lot of other historic sites. You know, we’ve traveled to Greece into, to Niagara falls and to key West in Chicago in Nova Scotia and everywhere we go, we go, where’s the haunted tour. Oh, we just did one again in a put in Bay. so I started to buy, you know, we started buying her own equipment and my daughter was here visiting recently and she, I was gone and she was at my house and she’s like, why do you have a spirit box?
And I’m like, well, you know, we use it when we go out. She goes, yeah, I I’ve wanted one, but I’m very same thing. I’m scared that I would do something. That I couldn’t undo. And I said, well, when we use it, we always are with a medium or a paranormal. And we’re with people who are more knowledgeable than us, and we have it so that a there’s more equipment for other people that are in a group that are there, but so that we can, you learn how to use it in a safe and responsible.
Way. so, you know, it’s exciting now we’ll have it. We’re doing a, a, some seances coming up at, you know, it’s, it’s really great to see destinations in Michigan, and I’m actually doing a little bit of research on what we call paranormal tourism, where people travel all over for these purposes where you’re starting to see it.
You know, I think thanks to the cable TV networks. It’s more mainstream and, and, and it’s not an underground thing. I have to go to a, to a seance or to go on a haunted tour to go on an investigation. it’s, it’s becoming more common and, it’s, I think it’s great to, to be able to see that. And with my book, you know, it’s.
As you get through it, you’ll see that yes, there are ghost stories, but it’s about 40% haunting and really about 60% history, you know, the history of the keepers, the history of the lighthouses, the industries that were going on, the communities in which these lighthouses stand, and the ghost stories really are in most cases, just a fraction of what that true story really is.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:22:06] Now for your investigating you’re you’re going out, you’re meeting up with, with the paranormal groups you’re out there investigating these lighthouses. Do you have a, let’s say like maybe one particular story that, you know, you were in the middle of the investigation, you know, something happened every, you know, with the hairs on your arms stood on end, you got the full body chills.
is there, is there any stories like that, that you could share?
Dianna Stampfler, Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses: [00:22:32] Well, I have a really good story that comes from. From the book, a good friend of mine, has told this to me. And, and you had mentioned, you’re going to talk to a couple of my friends from the upper peninsula here soon as well. And they have had this encounter. So this is a little tidbit for you to open up a question to them is the Schwab point lighthouse, which is located in Gulliver.
It’s in the upper peninsula. and it is on, South of us too, which is the main East West road there. And. This lighthouse keeper, died, in 90 10, 10, his name was Joseph Willie Townsend, and they believe he died of lung cancer. You have a heavy smoker, and people today will go through the light and they will smell the cigar smoke.
They will catch that with, of, of cigar smoke. Right? I was told by the woman who runs a museum there, that his wife never let him smoke in the house, which I find quite interesting that you can still smell it. So it’s not like it’s lingering a hundred years later. and, and, and the, you prepare normal guys have had this happen, happen to them.
And my friend, Chris, Struble had the same situation as well. and, what was interesting to note is that Townsend, after he died, he died in April. Now, if you’ve ever traveled to the upper peninsula in April, it’s not like April in Detroit, it’s usually pretty snowy still. So if you die in early April, at that point, they weren’t able to bury him.
so he was actually involved in the basement of the light. And this is 1910. So this was before the Mackinac bridge, his family was from out of state. So it took them a while to get there. It was three weeks that he lay in state in the parlor of the lighthouse and then his family had, they had their service.
Well, it’s still April and he still can’t bury them. I don’t know when he actually got put in the ground, but if anybody has a reason to haunt a light, it’s a guy who was embalmed in the basement of his own home. And lay in state in his own parlor for three weeks, put back in the basement. Right? I mean, I think he’s got a legit cause.
so the summer, that summer that I turned the book in, I went up and I was doing some last minute investigation and, and, went and, Was taking some additional photos. And in fact, yeah. the photo, on the, about the author page in the book is me at schwa. And I wanted to smell that cigar smoke.
And I had been there years and years ago with my mom. And just now remembering that she would ask if I had had other experiences. And I actually, I did there, back in the early two thousands, my mom and I went there. And this guy was taking pictures and he came back the next day when we were there. And he was showing all of these weird apparitions in his pictures.
And, like I said, I’m just now remembering that I had it, that experience up there. So, you know, it’s just really weird. They’ve have as many as five ghosts there, there are three books written about the ghost at that light alone written by the museum director. And that summer I went up. One of the things that was very important to me with this book was to go visit the graves of these keepers.
So I went to the light, Wanda. Smell the cigar smoke. I didn’t want him to see towns and I didn’t, I didn’t have any activity there. but then I left and went to a man of steel where he’s buried and I left him a cigar
Cliff Duvernois: [00:25:47] Nice.
Dianna Stampfler, Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses: [00:25:48] on his grave. I should’ve gone it. Didn’t Dawn on me to leave and come back and see.
What the condition of the cigar was. but I’m a cigar smoker myself. And so last fall when my boyfriend and I were up there, we went back and we, we may or may not have had a flask with us and cigars. And we actually stood there at his grave site and toasted him in his life and enjoy a cigar in the rain.
and, and continue to pay our respects to him and, and, and to thank him as I’ve done with all that, these other keepers, I’m thanking them for allowing me to tell their stories.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:26:24] You know, and it’s, it’s when I was reading your, your book and you kind of alluded to this earlier. It’s interesting that these lighthouse keepers just how really dedicated they were to their profession in one of the. The lighthouse stories that you highlighted in your book? There was one about a lighthouse keeper who, I can’t remember how, but he lost one leg and somehow, or another, he climbed up and down the stairs of the lighthouse to turn the light on, to turn it off or whatever it was.
He, he did this every day. And why more than more than once he had to go out and like really bad, weather. And I can’t remember the circumstances of it, but, but it just, it was a very powerful visual because he was literally crawling. Cause he couldn’t walk. The wind was blowing really hard. The waves were crashing and he, you know, he couldn’t walk or anything cause you only had the one leg and he was literally crawling.
To do his job. And I know that there’s, you know, some of these paranormal groups, we’ll, we’ll talk about a correlation between, people’s love of a, you know, of a particular location. And with some of these, you know, you talk about the lighthouse keeper, still haunting that lighthouse because of their, their avid dedication for their job.
Dianna Stampfler, Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses: [00:27:36] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. You’re referencing captain James. Donahue in South Haven, he was a civil war soldier. So he lost his leg in battle.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:27:44] That’s what it was. Yes.
Dianna Stampfler, Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses: [00:27:46] it was very common because, lighthouse service at the time, when it was founded was, through the, through the office of the president, they were a lot of times political appointments that came from the president’s office.
And so when he got out, he got discharged from the service. He took a job as a lay housekeeper, which I find, as you said, very interesting when he has only one leg and his, he, the lighthouse in South Haven, isn’t attached to the keeper’s residence. So he actually had to walk down. The embankment with a set of stairs down along the river, out the catwalk or the pier, depending on the weather and then up to the tower.
And he had a peg leg. I also had crutches and I’m assuming he had some kind of contract option to allow him to pull, the, the pale of oil that he would have needed. I have trouble walking up and down a lighthouse with two good legs. I mean, I can’t even imagine. On a peg leg no less. And as you mentioned, you know, crawling, and, and when he was do that, he would hold the lantern in his teeth just to get there.
And the nights that he would spend and sleeping in the tower, because it was their job to make sure that that light stayed lit. And it was on the stormy nights that their job was even more valuable because ships were likely going to be in distress. During those, those conditions, he served 35 years. He saved 15 lives.
In addition to men tending that light. And he he’s dedication was just, amazing. We have up the shoreline white river light station. Bill Robinson was instrumental in the building of the light. It wasn’t there when he arrived in the white hall area in 1860s and he petitioned for years to have it built.
He was then hired as part of the crew to erect the light named the first keeper died there and is buried in a cemetery facing the lighthouse. You know, 44 years that he served at that light. That’s amazing. Yeah. And, and it’s just, you know, it’s just, it’s a different. Lifestyle. I mean, they have 13 kids, so they had a lot of kids to help out at the light.
but it was remote, especially if you were on an Island, even more remote if you were on an off shore, like a crib light or a Shoal light, typically no families would be there. It would be a single men. but you had to be committed to what you were doing. And it was a solid job from like April to December.
Day in and day out and surprise there’s inspections by the coast guard. Later in later years, they were tourist attractions back then because it was government property. If a family of tourists showed up, you had to be prepared to give them a tour of your home. So it always had to be shipped shape.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:30:28] Wow. Now that’s something I, I didn’t know. And I don’t know if I would be too hip hop.
Dianna Stampfler, Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses: [00:30:33] Yeah, I don’t, I don’t think I do people just randomly stopping by my house on a daily basis. I have too many piles of papers around my house, but yeah, it’s, it was, it was I think, more than a calling. And, and as you said, I think that is, is the primary reason. You see a lot of these lights where the ghosts are tied to, to keepers or members of their family.
Who either died at the light who were so active? I’m at it for so many years. or just, people that died during shipwrecks that were in that particular area. We see a lot of that as well.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:31:09] Nice now for anybody who’s listening to this podcast, if they have an interest in, you know, let’s say checking out, some haunted lighthouses, maybe for the upcoming weekend for Halloween, whatever it is, what would be like maybe what would be like three recommendations that you would have and say, go check out these lighthouses.
Maybe they got interesting stories, a hotbed of activity or something along those lines, but what three houses would you recommend?
Dianna Stampfler, Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses: [00:31:36] Well, it’s a little interesting this time of year, because those that are normally open for tours and investigations may not be. So I’m not exactly sure who is open, but a couple that I would recommend. I’m pretty sure white river light station in white hall is still offering some tours. If not, at least you can walk the grounds there.
It’s right along the shore of that. And if you go to white hall and do that, you want to pop over to Montagu and visit the mouth. Cemetery. That is where bill and his wife Sarah are buried. And that means that a cemetery has its own set of ghost stories. It sits next to a former cult property. so we spent a little bit of time investigating over there as well.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:32:15] Sweet. Now, when you said bill he’s the lighthouse keeper,
Dianna Stampfler, Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses: [00:32:19] Yes. Yep. Bill Robinson there. and his family is buried in that cemetery. it’s an abandoned cemetery, so it’s a little hard to find and it’s, surrounded by private property. So it’s a little bit of a challenge. You’ve got to kind of be dedicated to get into it. I also agree with, going over to Fort Grashay.
I’m in port Huron, mainly because it is the oldest lighthouse in Michigan. It’s still active. It has a beautiful grounds and complex. I’m not sure that the tower is open, but you can certainly walk around and, and get photographs, of, of that. And, peak color in Northern Michigan and throughout the state of Michigan is.
The end of October, approaches. so I would think if you wanted to go to the UPP, either, Schwab in Gulliver or Whitefish point, which is where, of course the Edmund Fitzgrey sank in, I think it was November 10th. 1975, that has a lot of ghosts around that. And the complex there is, is pretty phenomenal right there along Lake superior.
But, you know, there are 130, almost 130 lighthouses in Michigan, 13 in the book, but 40 of them are, are haunted. And if you go to, there’s an actually a Facebook. Page for the book and there’s a graphic on there. That’ll show you the list of other lights that may not be featured in the book, but you can do some of your own investigation.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:33:43] And speaking of which, if people wanted to connect with you or follow you online, what’s the best way for that to happen.
Dianna Stampfler, Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses: [00:33:50] So you can go to M I haunted lighthouses.com. That website will actually redirect to a page on my primary website for promote Michigan. you can, purchase. Graph copies, that are available. and you can also find the list of upcoming presentations. I I’ve canceled over 30 of them this year, but I have a couple coming up, one in Lake city, one in white cloud.
And, so we’ve got those and, you can order the book there .So, for Facebook, if you search Michigan’s haunted lighthouses, and it is there, and I share additional information there beyond what’s in the book, others, other sources, other photos and whatnot. So you can check that out as well.
Cliff Duvernois: [00:34:32] Excellent. Thank you for that. And for our audience, we will definitely make sure to have all those links in the show notes down below Diana. It’s been great having you on the podcast today. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this conversation. Thank you so much for talking with us today.
Dianna Stampfler, Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses: [00:34:46] Well, thank you for the invitation.