The Ghosts of The Grand Hotel, The Woods and Carriage Tours: Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island is essentially a giant Indian Burial ground and full of restless spirits. Employees everywhere from Carriage Tours to The Grand, visitors to the island and year round residents seem to have paranormal experiences on this 8 mile round island. So, I decided to gather some stories from the people I know.

The Woods Restaurant Area

The road my room mate was riding along at midnight when he had his “experience”.

My room-mate – the Black Fabio, (yes, we are still living together) experienced a ghost last night while riding from The Woods restaurant (Stonecliffe) to Woodville. He was with two other employees riding along the above road at midnight. They heard the sound of changing bike gears and my friend looked back to see a man racing up behind him. All three men pedaled to the left of the road to let the person pass. They waited for a moment but no one past. They kept riding. After a few minutes, the changing of gears happened again and he turned to see the man even closer to him and wanting to pass. He yelled out, “He wants to pass again, get to the side.” And again no one passed. They eventually turned right (the only possibility at the end of Hoban Road near Woodville) and waited for the person. No one appeared.

The Woods Restaurant

The Woods restaurant itself has plenty of haunted stories and many people claim to have seen the ‘woman in white’ there, often hovering around the area near the bike racks, looking through the windows or just inside near the bar. A friend of mine recently saw a ghost near the Bowling alley. He said it looked like a life size painting of a lady in a red dress but when he looked closer he saw it was a person standing in front of the wall. He came back moments later and it had vanished.

Carriage Tours

St Anne’s Cemetary

Carriage Tours tends to have some good stories as their horse-drawn taxi’s run all night, often down lonely and dark leafy trails. I heard a story last year of a guy who was near The Village (Harrisonville where most of the residents live) and was called to pick people up from downtown at 2am. It was quicker for him to cut through the cemeteries and down by the Governors House then to go down Hoban Road. In the centre of the island, there are three cemeteries all in a triangle. The horse-drawn carriage approached St Anne’s cemetery and the electronic equipment died including the radio. Spooked out, the horses began to run past the other cemeteries. The driver felt a pair of hands grab the bottom of his leg and tug. The horses past the last cemetery and calmed down, the electronic equipment turned back on and everything seemed to be fine.

Another story which is often retold by the taxi drivers, is that there are two well-known ghosts on the island. One is a woman in white near Stonecliffe, the other a Soldier. At certain points on the island these ghosts will sit on the back seat of their carriages. The driver will look in the rear view mirror and see them. The drivers would then turn their heads and no one would be there. The ghosts always get on at the same spot.

The Grand Hotel

There are a few stories told by the employees at The Grand, although The Grand deliberately dismisses the stories not wanting to cater to ghost hunting enthusiasts. Last year a guy I knew was in the theatre alone. He saw two soldiers walking towards him. They got to about three feet in front of him and he blacked out. He woke up moments later, laying on the ground in a burial position with his hands on his chest. Even I, someone who has had experiences was like NO WAY! Even retelling the story he was clearly terrified.

The Grand Hotel Theatre/Stage. Most times there is nothing in this room unless there is an event on.

There was also another experience in the theatre when two maintenance men were on stage. One of the men who was standing looking out over the theatre floor, saw a black mist form and head straight towards him . He said it was pitch black, had an evil presence and red eyes. He screamed something in spanish at the figure and then fainted. After fainting he was in hospital for two days. He never returned to the Grand and his friend refuses to work alone, during the winter or in the theatre.

Toward the front of The Grand Employee Housing in April 2011

In The Grand employee housing, some rooms have bunk beds, and one guy thought his roommate had come home early and was sitting on top of the bunk above him. There was a sagging dent above him as if someone was sitting on the bed. He got up to go outside but as he reached the door he looked back in and saw a woman sitting on his top bunk. She was wearing all white Victorian clothing.

The second floor of the Cupola Bar has a piano. Some staff have seen an older man in a top hat looking out of the window smoking a cigar. The smell of the smoke from the cigar is distinctive and often manifests in one area next the piano/window.

There are other stories on the island, but I am only revealing the ones I have spoken to the person who experienced it themselves. There is a story about a womans ghost at her grave, the sound of bullets catching peoples ears at the rifle range behind Fort Mackinac but I don’t know anyone with personal experiences with those things so I will leave them to your imagination. Ghost hunting shows have done enough to damage the field of parapsychology so I will not speculate further. But it’s interesting – until it happens to you and Bill Murray isn’t around with his Ghost Buster kit.

Have you had any experiences on Mackinac?



  1. Thanks for the follow.
    No, I haven’t been to Mackinac but I have had other ghostly experiences.

  2. I appreciate your sharing the stories, and sticking to those who actually experienced them. This adds a lot to the history of the Grand, though you’re right, people do let ghosthunting ruin parapsychology.

  3. I stayed at the condos near Stonecliffe last night and the night before that. I was about to fall asleep last night and felt something lightly tweak my left boob!

  4. Patricia Moore

    Yes! My one and only experience with a ghost. My husband and I were on our honeymoon and, after a carriage tour, dinner and dancing; we retired to our room. It was one of the small, older rooms where one can barely get around the poster bed to get in! Sometime in the middle of the night, I woke and saw a bedraggled looking soldier leaning against the poster at the foot of my husband. He didn’t speak, he didn’t scare me but somehow he communicated this to me, “It’s okay, this is my room, go back to sleep now.” I went back to sleep. In the morning, I told my husband who knew I was the biggest skeptic ever, so believed me but when I asked hotel employees they definitely and quickly changed the subject!

  5. Gina

    I stayed at the condos near Stonecliff and slept near the open window. I felt a very strong force try to pull me out of bed. I started punching the pillow to the left of my body with the right fist. Definitely the scariest feeling…

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