MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Horror around the corner

Spoiling for a fright? For Halloween, ghouls lurk in strange places.

A haunted ship galley in Manistee.

© S.S. Milwaukee

Venture into the galley of the S.S. Milwaukee and you just might find the cook at work.

It began with a sepulchral fugue, crashing through the frigid steel corridors. Then there was a shriek. And throbbing blood-red lights.

At a fork along a curtained gantlet, a hand-lettered sign advised, "Choose wisely.'' We chose. Another sign said, "You chose poorly.'' Then the ghouls began to crowd in, chattering like monkeys: "Where you goin'? Where you goin'?''

A skeleton slowly turned to face us. We climbed a Plexiglass ramp over an open coffin and into an electrocution chamber. A tortured face poked out of the wall. Behind us, the tunnel closed.

A haunted house? No, a haunted ship — a real claustrophobe's nightmare.

There are a lot of haunted houses around Halloween, but why not try something more original —  say, a haunted lighthouse, train, mine, schooner, mill, ski hill or fur post. Here's where to go to be scared out of your socks.

Haunted cruises

From Chicago's Navy Pier, the Seadog speedboat offers 75-minute tours of the Chicago River in October, with commentary of the city's most haunting mysteries and legends. They're $37, $20 for children.

Halloween is huge in Chicago; for more, see Halloween in Chicago.

Haunted trains

In Green Bay, the Impaler stalks the National Railroad Museum, where Terror on the Fox includes a ghoulish ride on a vintage train, a forest maze and attractions with Animatronics.

Tickets benefit charities and are $25. On Kids Days, a child ticket is $5.

In Mount Pleasant, Iowa, rides on the Ghost Train of No Return and Ghostly Trolley are unlimited . . . and unearthly. The Midwest Haunted Rails operate Fridays and Saturdays in October, $10.

A Redcoat ghoul at Fort Michilimackinac.

©

A ghoulish Redcoat haunts the shadowy corners of Fort Michilimackinac.

Haunted fur-trade forts

On the south end of the Mackinac Straits in Mackinaw City, Mich., skeleton Redcoats patrol Fort Michilimackinac, and werewolves lurk along the palisades.

Walk a trail lit by lanterns and listen to French voyageurs tell eerie tales the first weekend of October, when the fort becomes Fort Fright. Tickets are $8, $5 for children 5-17. 

At the North West Company Fur Post on the Snake River in Pine City, Minn., there’s been a murder, and visitors try to solve it by lantern light during Mystery at the Fur Post Oct. 13-14. Admission is $10, $6 for children 5-17.

In Thunder Bay, Ont., ghosts and various sinister characters take over labyrinthine Fort William Historical Park, where guests are led by candlelight during Haunted Fort Night, for ages 12 and up.

It's Thursdays-Sundays through October. Reservations are required, 807-473-2344, and the $15 tickets always sell out.

Haunted ships

In Duluth, the 610-foot ore carrier S.S. William A. Irvin once was the Great Lakes flagship of U.S. Steel. But in October, it's taken over by university theater students, who take full advantage of its narrow hallways and rooms full of hidden nooks and crannies, turning the Irvin into the Haunted Ship.

Tours of the six-story Irvin, which is chilly and slightly creepy even on a summer day, will be given weekends in October. Admission is $12. Bring a canned good for $2 off.

On the western shore of Lake Michigan in Manistee, Mich., the 80-year-old S.S. City of Milwaukee, which once transported whole freight trains across the Great Lakes, becomes the Ghost Ship.

It's open most Friday and Saturday nights in October. Admission is $10, $8 for children 7-17.

The William A. Irvin ore boat.

© Beth Gauper

In Duluth, the retired William A. Irvin ore boat becomes a haunted ship.

Haunted high ropes course

Are your Halloween plans up in the air? Imagine walking on a cable three stories above the forest floor, with nothing to hang onto except a rope swaying overhead. Now imagine doing it at night, helped along by ghouls.

That's the Haunted High Ropes course at Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center, just west of Lanesboro, Minn., on a bluff overlooking the North Branch of the Root River.

It's 5:30-9:30 p.m. Oct. 27. The $25 tickets sell out fast.

Haunted lighthouses

The 1876 Tawas Point Lighthouse in Michigan's Tawas Point State Park, on Lake Huron, will be haunted Oct. 13-14. There are nighttime lighthouse tours, plus family-friendly events: carnival games and prizes for kids, hay rides and a spooky cemetery with special tombstones.

The 1866 lighthouse in Ontonagon, Mich., 12 miles east of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park on the Upper Peninsula, will be the scene of a wake for a young woman who died of diphtheria in the lighthouse in 1885.

Warning: You'll see dead people. Shows are offered the weekend before Halloween, $10, $5 for children under 16. Reserve at 906-884-6165. 

On the Lake Michigan side of the Upper Peninsula east of Manistique, Seul Choix Point Lighthouse is said to be haunted by a keeper who died there in 1910, and smoke from a phantom cigar often is detected.

Seul Choix Bay, on which the light sits, was named by French explorers because it was the "only choice'' for haven in a storm.

Haunted copper mine

Haunted copper mine in Hancock, Mich. There's nothing more claustrophobic than a mine, so watch who you run into on the Haunted Tours of the Quincy Mine in Hancock, on Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula. They're Oct. 27-28.


Last updated on October 2, 2017