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The Ghostly Mystery of the Paulding Light

| Updated Jun 16, 2023

A railroad brakeman's ghost continues to wave his signal lantern to all who come to visit…

Every place, it seems, has its own ghosts and mysteries. So it is just north of the tiny Upper Peninsula town of Watersmeet.

For generations, people have gathered at the end of a gravel road to watch some mystery lights.

The Mystery of the Paulding Light

The lights appear nightly, year-round near a crossroads community in Michigan called Paulding. The first reported sightings were back in the 1960s and various investigations have been inconclusive.

Though a university team from a Michigan Technological University claimed the lights were from cars on a distant road and that they seemed to grow brighter and closer because of refraction. The Syfy Channel did its own paranormal investigation and said they could not find a scientific explanation.

Sign at Paulding Light

The Legends of Paulding Light

Whatever, the Paulding Light is fraught with many different legends, the most popular appears to be the death of a railroad brakeman. The legend states that the valley once contained railroad tracks and the light is the lantern of the brakeman who was killed while attempting to stop an oncoming train from colliding with railway cars stopped on the tracks.

Another story claims the light is the ghost of a slain mail courier, while another says that it is the ghost of a Native American dancing on the power lines that run through the valley.

There's even an official US Forest Service marker at the site marking the spot. The light typically becomes visible an hour or so after sunset.

I spent an entire night there a while back on assignment for the Detroit Free Press, meeting people who had come from a wide region of Northwestern Michigan and Eastern Wisconsin and interviewing local people.

Check out the video below that I did and you can see the lights yourself…. and what I think they are.

There's lots of RV camping nearby in state and federal forests.

Other Great Articles About Michigan's UP

I may not have been impressed with the Paulding Light, but there's so much to love in the UP.

Michigan's Upper Peninsula is home to so many great destinations and adventures that Jennifer and I have a flurry of articles on it. Here are just a few to choose from:

And, of course, don't forget our Upper Peninsula RV Adventure Guide and Great Lakes Shoreline Tour…

Mike and Jennifer's Great Lakes Bundle – 2 ebooks!

The Ghostly Mystery of the Paulding Light 1

This bundle is our popular Upper Peninsula RV Adventure Guide PLUS our newest Adventure Guide – The Great Lakes Shoreline Tour! Both ebooks will give you plenty of ideas and resources to enjoy this part of the US.

Explore this Bundle and plan your next trip!

Mike Wendland

Published on 2021-09-21

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

30 Responses to “The Ghostly Mystery of the Paulding Light”

January 22, 2014at4:00 pm, Michael Speer said:

Just down the road from us, been there several times. Creepy, especially if there are wolves howling, or big game (deer, bear, etc) rustling in the brush. You can see the light only after dark.


January 22, 2014at2:56 pm, Jessica Murrell said:

Sounds like moody lane in francesville indiana


January 21, 2014at10:15 pm, Bobby Garnett said:

Theres a paulding county Georgia as well


January 21, 2014at10:13 pm, Bobby Garnett said:



January 21, 2014at6:35 pm, Jean Adams said:

Been there saw that


January 21, 2014at1:54 pm, Ben Benitez said:

Nice Place to Go!


January 21, 2014at11:33 am, Muriel Moore said:

Scary im not going around it oh no not me never


January 21, 2014at11:05 am, Jan Bolen said:

Site, not sight!!!!


January 21, 2014at10:28 am, Thomas Hathaway said:

“The sight of his untimely death?” Shouldn’t that be “site”? This is a National Park Service sign! What is happening to the English language?!?!


January 22, 2014at3:29 pm, Michael Overboe said:

Fine print…’made in China’


January 21, 2014at10:24 am, April Grant Brown said:

I wonder if there is methane in the area?


January 21, 2014at10:12 am, Brian E Heindl said:

Similar story told at the Moonville tunnel in southern Ohio around Zaleski . Tunnel is still there.


January 21, 2014at10:11 am, William Whitewolf said:

A very good childhood trust and believe out of 40 chapters you will be in 15 of them in my book.


January 21, 2014at10:10 am, Jon Morgan said:

We did have a great childhood


January 21, 2014at10:09 am, Jon Morgan said:

Yeah, & Old Mill Rd.


January 21, 2014at10:07 am, William Whitewolf said:

Jon Morgan remember greenlight cemetery. Me in The back of the station wagon with Barbara pencil. Lmao and what we seen that night.


January 21, 2014at9:48 am, Patrick Pulliam said:

I think they did a special on the discovery channel about this. After all of the test, they found out that it was the traffic lights coming towards them from the road


January 21, 2014at9:32 am, Mike Lopez said:

Brian, people drive with their headlights on during the day, just watched a YouTube video on it, it’s obviously car lights because you have red lights (tail lights)going away from you and the white lights coming toward u and then disappearing into the trees when they get too far down the hill.


January 21, 2014at9:01 am, Ilie St Romain said:

Check out the “Ghost of Gurdon” in Arkansas. Similar story. About 75 miles south of Little Rock.


January 21, 2014at8:51 am, Joe Bates said:

Michigans Upper peninsula!


January 21, 2014at8:32 am, Joel Danielson said:

Car lights


January 21, 2014at8:13 am, Bill Clift said:

Nikki, remember I mentioned some cool stuff in the Michigan U.P.? This is one.. Near Watersmeet..


January 21, 2014at8:11 am, Brian Caywood said:

It is just over the border in Michigan upper peninsula


January 21, 2014at8:09 am, Brian Caywood said:

Nope not lights from cars on the highway. Explain why you can see it during the day! Have you actually seen it your self?


January 21, 2014at8:06 am, Mac Livingston said:

Go to youtube and watch a few video’s to find out the real story here.


January 21, 2014at7:55 am, Chad Veley said:

It’s from cars on the highway.


January 21, 2014at7:44 am, Wanda Goodson said:

Where is this place?


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