'Michigan Triangle' To
Blame For Weird Occurrences?

By Bill Wangemann
Sheboygan Press
Editor's note: This is the first of two parts.
Almost 18 percent of the earth's supply of surface fresh water is contained in the Great Lakes.
Water is essential to life, but great expanses of water can also be a hostile environment. Searching for a lost object just a few hundred feet under water can be a daunting task, requiring special equipment and training. The cold dark depths of any great body are also mysterious, and in some ways frightening, because they conceal the unknown.
Many stories have been written of weird and unexplained happenings in an area off Florida known as the Bermuda Triangle.
It is said that in this area, boats and planes have disappeared in good weather with no evidence ever found as to why they vanished. UFO sightings are supposedly frequent in the area. Many boats have also reported compass failures and unexplained trouble inside the triangle.
But did you know that almost at our very doorstep, another "mysterious triangle" exists? The triangle I am speaking of is known as the Michigan Triangle. The boundaries are said to be from Ludington, Mich., to Benton Harbor, Mich., and then across the lake to Manitowoc and back to Ludington.
Numerous stories have been told of unexplained disappearances, weird happenings, periods when time seems to slow down or speed up and the appearance of strange creatures.
A well-documented case is the disappearance of Capt. George R. Donner of the lake freighter O.M. McFarland from his cabin while the ship was under way on April 28, 1937. The McFarland had picked up 9,800 tons of coal in Erie, Penn., and then headed west through the lakes bound for Port Washington.
Because it was early in the season, the lakes and the locks in the upper part of the Great Lakes were still choked with ice, which slowed the McFarland's progress.
Capt. Donner had remained on the bridge many hours guiding his ship through the treacherous ice floes. When at last the ship turned into Lake Michigan, the exhausted captain retired to his cabin, with the instructions that he be called when the ship neared Port Washington.
Some three hours later as the McFarland neared her destination, the second mate went to the captain's cabin to awaken him as instructed, but the captain was not there. Thinking that Donner had gone to the galley for a late-night snack, the second mate checked the galley and learned that the captain had not been there.
The mate and other sailors began an exhaustive search of the vessel, but to no avail ó the captain had disappeared. No clue as to what happened to Donner was ever found.
Ironically, the day Donner disappeared was his 58th birthday. The captain's disappearance is as much a mystery today as it ever was.
Believers in the Lake Michigan Triangle point out that the O.M. McFarland was in the triangle when Donner vanished.
A more recent event took place on June 23, 1950, when Northwestern Airlines flight 2501 took off from New York with a crew of 3 and 55 passengers bound for Minneapolis.
Later that night at 11:37 p.m., the large, four-engine DC-4 reported that it was at 3,500 feet over Battle Creek, Mich. Due to bad weather near Chicago, the plane changed its course to a northwesterly direction over Lake Michigan, with an estimated time of arrival over Milwaukee of 11:51 p.m.
From there, the plane simply vanished ó nothing of the plane or its 58 occupants was ever seen again.
A massive Coast Guard search turned up only a blanket bearing the airline's logo. Triangle believers again point out that the tragic loss of flight 2501occurred near the center of the Lake Michigan Triangle.
Next week in the second part, we will explore sea monsters and other creatures seen in or near the triangle as well as the creature in Elkhart Lake, and other strange happenings in the area.
Today's Tidbit: When Captain Donner vanished from his cabin on the McFarland, it was said that his cabin door was locked from the inside.
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