Big Bay, Michigan has a lot of scenic views to see and notable places to visit. Some of them are Lake Independence Lake, Alder Falls and Pinnacle Falls Waterfall, Thomas Rock Scenic Overlook, and many more.
A photo of Thomas Rock Scenic Overlook. (Link: https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g41992-d7179324-i170045440-Thomas_Rock_Scenic_Overlook-Big_Bay_Upper_Peninsula_Michigan.html)
Another reason why people visit this area is because of a supposed haunted bed and breakfast light house. Accordingly, Big Bay Point Lighthouse is guarded by a red-headed ghost.
A photo showing the facade of the Big Bay Point Lighthouse. (Link: https://laketolake.com/michigan-bb-association-directory/big-bay-point-lighthouse/)
The History Of Big Bay Point Lighthouse
Big Bay Point Lighthouse was recommended to be built in 1882 after many vessels were wrecked after passing through the area. It was equipped with train whistles in order to alert the people manning these ships. In 1928, the whistles were replaced with an air diaphone. It took a total of 14 years to complete the lighthouse.
An old aerial photo of Big Bay Point Lighthouse. (Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bay_Point_Light)
The lighthouse had an office and six rooms – a kitchen, a parlor, a dining room, and three bedrooms on the second floor. The rooms were for the families of the keepers.
One of the rooms that could be rented at the bed and breakfast at Big Bay Point Lighthouse. (Link: https://www.tripadvisor.com.ph/ShowUserReviews-g41992-d78028-r211214706-Big_Bay_Point_Lighthouse_Bed_and_Breakfast-Big_Bay_Upper_Peninsula_Michigan.html)
It was operational until the year 1961. It was then sold to private owners and the winning bid was made by one Jon Pick, a plastic surgeon from Chicago. He purchased the lighthouse and the 33 acres of land for $40,000. Pick turned it into a summer house and renovated it for the next 17 years to upgrade and install the plumbing, fix the rooms, re-do the painting, and place electricity and modern heating system.
By 1979, Pick sold the Big Bay Point Lighthouse to Dan Hitchens. He also renovated the lighthouse and added bathrooms and executive meeting rooms in an attempt to convert the lighthouse to a bed and breakfast. Five years later, Hitchens sold the lighthouse and it was soon managed by Norman Gotschall and his wife. It has operated as a bed and breakfast since 1986.
In 1992, the lighthouse was once again sold to three preservationists from Chicago namely Jeff Gamble, John Gale, and Linda Gamble. They were originally guests at the bed and breakfast and later fell in love with the structure.
Inside the Big Bay Point Lighthouse. (Link: https://www.gonomad.com/2644-lodging-michigan-s-big-bay-point-lighthouse-b-and-b)
Today, the Big Bay Point Lighthouse remains as a bed and breakfast and the grounds could be accessed through the tours they offer. The light and fog horn building are also part of the tour. It is the only active lighthouse in the area.
A Death At The Big Bay Point Lighthouse
It is believed that this is the most notable and only death related to the Big Bay Point Lighthouse. A man named William Prior, who is red-haired, is said to be the first lighthouse keeper. He made his son, Edward, his assistant. Prior, Edward, and their family lived at the lighthouse until 1902 before tragedy struck.
William Prior and his family at the Big Bay Point Lighthouse. (Link: https://mynorth.com/2019/10/michigans-most-haunted-lighthouse-big-bay-point-lighthouse/)
Edward died due to a leg injury. Prior was reportedly very devastated about the death of his son and he later disappeared. His body was found more than a year and a half later hanging from a tree a mile away from the lighthouse. Some say he committed suicide because he had a handgun and some drugs with him when he disappeared while others believe he was murdered.
Now, Prior is said to be the one haunting the lighthouse and the premises. Another lighthouse keeper, who has not been identified, reportedly talked to a man named Frederick Babcock, a deer hunter. This man told the keeper that he saw a skeleton of a man hanging from a tree. The keeper and Babcock then went back to where the skeleton was and confirmed that it was Prior because of the clothes that were still on the skeleton.
The keeper kept a diary with him and he claimed that since they discovered Prior’s remains, paranormal activities have started. One instance pertained to the keeper being woken up in the middle of the night.
Norman Gotschall Speaks Of The First Sighting Of Prior’s Ghost
The first ever media publication regarding the ghost at the Big Bay Point Lighthouse was during the time Gotschall and his wife were the owners. Per a story in the Green Bay Press Gazette, “Gotschall insists he and his wife did not invent Pryor’s ghost to drum up business. Instead, he said, the first sighting was reportedly shortly after the inn opened by two guests who saw the spirit walking around the lighthouse in his U.S. Life Saving service uniform.”
Norman Gotschall and his wife in an undated photo at the Big Bay Point Lighthouse. (Link: https://mynorth.com/2019/10/michigans-most-haunted-lighthouse-big-bay-point-lighthouse/)
Also, the ghost of Prior reportedly loves playing with the water and is responsible for turning the faucets on. There are also banging noises in the building even if no one is there. Gotschall also believes that Prior loved fishing. The former owner of the lighthouse said in another statement, “Every morning in the spring he wakes me up, taps me lightly and bids me to go fishing. I know that fishing was important to a lighthouse keeper. So I have to fish every morning. I’ve always tried to comply. I don’t want a mad ghost around.”
Other Guests’ Experiences At The Big Bay Point Lighthouse
A couple also revealed their experience at the Big Bay Point Lighthouse. They spent their honeymoon there in the summer of 1990 when the Gotschalls were the keepers. The woman said that they were alter awakened by the sound of something down the stairs as if someone dropped a marble. In the morning, they saw a marble in a small ashtray and they were positive it wasn’t there when they got to the bed and breakfast.
Other guests claim that they saw a man gazing at them from the end of their beds while they were fast asleep. Others claimed to have seen the ghost of Prior in the mirror.
Linda Gamble’s Encounter With The Ghost Of Big Bay Point Lighthouse
Linda Gamble, one of the current owners of the Big Bay Point Lighthouse, also shared her experience saying that she heard him once. She got woken up by the sound of slamming cupbpards and she initially believed it was a drunken guest.
She then went out to see who it was but no one was there. She believed it was Prior. She claimed she told Prior that even if Prior did not like the changes they were making, they were still going to continue with it. In the morning, the cupboards were reportedly closed and she has not felt or seen Prior ever since.
What Paranormal Experts Are Saying About The Big Bay Point Lighthouse
Some experts who have gone to the Big Bay Point Lighthouse claimed to have seen and felt around five spirits in the area.
Also, others are saying that a girl died there during the time it was abandoned. It is unclear if her spirit is one of the five spirits reportedly residing in the Big Bay Point Lighthouse.
Big Bay Point Lighthouse at night. (Link: https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g41992-d78028-i223663288-Big_Bay_Point_Lighthouse_Bed_and_Breakfast-Big_Bay_Upper_Peninsula_Michigan.html)