Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Paulding Light

I haven't had the honour of being in the presence of many spirits outside the house I grew up in. Paranormally speaking, I'm rather behind on experiences. A few weekends ago my roommate and I took a trip up to Michigan's Upper Peninsula, a gorgeous stretch of land stuck in between lakes Superior and Michigan. As it turns out, the UP is filled with haunts of every shape and kind, but one particular has spoken (or rather, showed itself), not only to residents, but to tourists of every walk of life. You may have heard of the Paulding Light in some capacity. It's been featured on television shows like "Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files," and even has t-shirts promoting its mystery. But what is it, exactly?

The Paulding Light, way up there between Watersmeet and Paulding, MI (just off of hwy 45, down Robbins Pond Road), is a very big hill with a very long path leading off into the distance. You can walk it, but I doubt you'll get very far before it either gets too dark to keep going, or you get too tired. The best spot to stand is behind the battered, graffiti-ed guard railing. If you wait long enough, and grab a good seat before the rest of the populace gets there, you'll be rewarded just after dusk with something I can only describe as amazing.

Around 8:46, just as the last bits of sunshine were sinking behind us and the nocturnal world was starting to wake up, a pinprick of light shone in the far distance. It was white, and not very bright, but it was definitely there. Later on, once night had fully set in and a crowd had gathered, the light got brighter, impossibly bright for being so far away, and pulsed a few times. It even turned red! We eventually left around 10:30, but the light was still going strong. It flickered, went out, then came back stronger than ever. It was quite the sight to see!

So, what is it, anyway?

The Paulding Light has a few different theories behind it. The most popular (and the one that's on the plaque put up by the Forestry Department) is about a railway brakeman who is still faithfully doing his job after his death (presumably on-site). The light is said to be his lanterns still signalling long- gone trains passing through his station. Other legends say that the light is a mailman still performing his duties (to what houses I'm not sure), and a Native American dancing on the power lines that run all the way down the trail. 

While Michigan Tech says the Light has been debunked as car lights coming to and from hwy 45, others are more skeptical. There were at least fifty people crowded around the guard rail with us that August night,  some of which were returning to the spot after having seen the light in their youth, one onlooker hadn't been to the spot in forty years. They all had different stories and experiences with the Light. One woman said it used to pule brighter, and come within five feet of the railing. Another, that their car died when it rushed up to it. Admittedly, I was a tad disappointed when the Light didn't come after me. But I contented myself to listen to the stories of the elders around me and watch the little light flash white to red myself. 

Whether you're a believer or a skeptic, seeing the Light is something you're not likely to forget the experience. 

If you'd like more information, here are a few links to guide you on your way!

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