michigantriangleThe JREF headquarters is in Fort Lauderdale, FL, just a few miles from the "infamous" and thoroughly explained Bermuda Triangle. Two of the JREF's "Amaz!ng Adventure" cruises have sailed through this "Hoodoo Sea," and in fact it's one of the most heavily trafficked areas in the world on both land and sea. The number of incidents in the area — including disappearances — is on par with other parts of the ocean. Lloyd's of London charges no more for its insured vessels in these waters, and that alone should tell you something.

Ships and planes have disappeared there, of course. They also disappear in other places. One of those places is Lake Michigan.

That's right — Lake Michigan has its own triangle.

It stretches between three points (of course): Ludington, MI, Benton Harbor, MI and Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Like its larger and more famous southern sister, the Lake Michigan Triangle has claimed several aircraft and ships, and has spawned stories of lost time and strange fogs. 

The two most famous incidents are described on the site rense.com, and I quote here:

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.

And the second:

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 - 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.

Well, it seems clear to me that there is something strange going on here. Let's look at these two examples. In the first, we have a captain missing from his ship. At the bottom of the page at rense.com, the following appears: "When Captain Donner vanished from his cabin on the McFarland, it was said that his cabin door was locked from the inside." Ooh, a locked room mystery. However, let's consider the account from the Cleveland Press, as reported by w-files.com:

At 1:15 a.m. (April 29, 1937--J.T.) as the McFarland neared Port Washington, the mate, as instructed, descended to the captain's room to summon him. There was no response to his knocking on the door, so the second officer opened it and peered in, assuming that the captain was merely sleeping heavily. But Captain Donner was not in the bed or anywhere else in sight.

If the mate was able to open the cabin to check on the captain, how can we know that the door was locked from the inside? The Cleveland Press reports that the two portholes in the cabin were too small for the Donner to fit through, so if we take that at face value, no answer is to be had there. But couldn't the case simply be that the Captain jumped? Such things happen, even todayThere doesn't seem much to attribute to the supernatural here. In fact, if you remove the "door locked from the inside" story, it becomes as mundane as "a man fell overboard."

In the next story, we have a plane flying in stormy weather. Unlike today's jetliners, DC-4's, especially DC-4's that were planning to land soon, flew only a few thousand feet over the ground (or lake). This means that there was very little time to respond to any sudden emergency such as those caused by storms. The article at rense.com mentions that "only a blanket bearing the airline's logo" was found. Well, that's a real mystery, since the FAA's official report states:

Coast Guard cutter Woodbine found an oil slick, aircraft debris, and the aircraft log book in Lake Michigan approximately 18 miles north-northwest of Benton Harbor.

Hmm. It also reports "At the approximate time of the accident a squall line was located in the area where the aircraft crashed." Again, where is the need for a supernatural cause to explain these events? A low-flying aircraft crashed into the lake. Why, exactly? We will probably never know, but the list of mundane possibilities is long enough that we needn't lose sleep over it. 

With such lousy reporting and "scant" evidence, why does the idea that there are cursed areas still persist? Because people loves stories, and anyone can create one. Let's give it a shot.

There is an area near my home in Richmond, VT that has an unusual number of car accidents. They usually occur at night, and it doesn't matter if the driver has been drinking or if there are any other cars on the road. The area stretches from Williston through Bolton and on to Waterbury. (Hmm, that makes three points! It's a triangle!) Drivers report seeing something that looks like "trees in the road" and then a thundering crash as the front ends of their cars are crushed. In some cases, the cars screech to a halt—and there is nothing there. Whatever it was that caused the damage is gone. 

Some "skeptics" have claimed that deer cause the collisions, but it's well known that deer have eyes that glow in headlights, and none have been reported in these incidents. So beware the Memorial Highway Triangle! You could be next!

Or, you could learn the rest of the story. That section of Interstate 89 travels through a favorite stomping ground of moose. Moose are particularly dangerous because they're so tall that their eyes are well above a headlight's beam. Your first indication that you're about to have a close encounter with North Americas largest deer when you see its legs getting larger in your windshield. They're also tall enough to land on your hood or worse, in your windshield, and human fatalities are not uncommon. It's also not uncommon for the moose to get up and bound off into the brush, leaving nothing behind but crushed metal and a bit of fur.

That's somehow less exciting, but in fact, it's a real threat to drivers in the area, and I feel it's far more of a concern than a mysterious triangle such as those found in Bermuda, Michigan, or any of the others around the world. If you want to create the impression of the supernatural at work, all you have to do is find a tragic story and cherry pick which details to relay. Or, you can fabricate them completely, as is often the case.