Many words are used to describe Wisconsin, idyllic, charming, quaint … but spooky? Lakes are popular destinations, to both the living and the dead. Read below and encounter some peculiar stories of beloved Wisconsin lakes.
Fowler Lake, Oconomowoc
This idyllic lake in Southeastern Wisconsin lies in the middle of Oconomowoc. Its shores line the downtown streets next to its neighbor Lac La Belle. But Oconomowoc natives know there is more to this small lake than nice fishing. Fowler Lake’s shores are home to the living, and dead. La Belle Cemetery lines its eastern shoreline, and odd things have been occurring there since the cemetery began in the 1800s.
La Belle Cemetery is infamous for its inhabitants so much so that many professional ghost hunting groups visit the cemetery in attempts to unravel its secrets. It is said the statue of a mourning woman in front of the Nathusius monument cries tears of blood and will cause blindness if you steal the pennies others leave in her hand. Others have reported seeing a young woman drag a chain into Fowler’s waters and drowning herself.
All residents of Fowler lake enjoy its nice fishing, alive or not.
Lakes Monona and Mendota, Madison
Lake Monona is one of the five lakes forming the Yahara chain in Dane County. Although many visit this area for the culture and a visit the State Capital, Lake Monona offers ghost tourists a variety of attractions. Past Native Americans created many burial mounds around Lake Monona which were left undisturbed until the 1800s when Europeans began to make their homes, sometimes building on these mounds. Subsequently, many residents have reported signs of a haunting in their homes, such as furniture shaking, visible orbs, and odd noises.
The unlucky residents of Lake Monona are also the caretakers of a large serpent said to live in its deepest depths. In 1897, a father and his two sons were the first to report spotting a large serpent with “a shape like the bottom of a boat, but twice as long.” However, even if this beast, were caught it could not feed a city-wide Friday Fish Fry.
Those traumatized by their fear might end up at the local hospital, Central Wisconsin Center. An abandoned building across the way, the Mendota Mental Health Institute on the shore of Lake Mendota, has lain empty since 1994, but has been a beacon for supernatural activity since its creation in 1860. Those who have visited the Mendota Mental Hospital report an eerie feeling, like someone or something is watching. Shadows and orbs have also appeared to people. The hospital is infamous for treating murderer and body snatcher Edward Gein (who has inspired many thrillers such as Psycho, Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and Silence of the Lamb, to name a few.)
Next time you visit our state capital treat yourself to an adventure by walking the shores of Lakes Monona and Mendota… alone… if you dare.
West Bay Lake, Vilas County
West Bay Lake lies on the border between Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin, except for residents of Summerwind Mansion, who believed it existed between the living and the afterlife. Summerwind Mansion, once a luxurious residence on the western shore of West Bay Lake, has been haunted since built in the early 1900s. The house was bought by Robert Patterson Lamont in 1916 and remodeled into a mansion. Lamont first heard of the paranormal activity from his maids and workmen. In the mid-1930s, after Lamont and his wife encountered a spectral apparition so vivid Lamont shot at it, the Lamont family evacuated the premise. The house was bought by the Keefer family in the 1940s, but they never moved into their new residence.
In the 1970s, Summerwind Mansion was bought by Arnold and Ginger Hinshaw, who moved into the haunted mansion with their four children. The Hinshaws reported multiple signs of supernatural activity, ranging from orbs and spectral visions, to problems with the house’s doors, windows, and electricity for no plausible reason. Arnold Hinshaw had a mental breakdown just six months after moving into Summerwind, and Ginger Hinshaw moved in with her parents soon afterward. The Hinshaws were the last permanent residents and Summerwind has lain empty since despite efforts by Ginger’s father, Raymond Bober, to renovate the mansion and turn it into a restaurant.
In the 1988, Summerwind was mostly destroyed in a fire caused by lightning. The ruins of this once beautiful mansion lurk the shores to this day, but being on private land, are closed to visitors. Perhaps for the better…
This Halloween, instead of watching a scary movie at home, try your paranormal luck and explore a nearby lake. You never know what might be lurking beneath the water…
Entry written by Alyson Douglas, Aquatic Invasive Species Program Assistant.
Figure 1. The mourning woman at the Nathusius monument.
Figure 2. The Native American burial mounds around Mendota Mental Health Institute.
Figure 3. Woman with pumpkin