Every year on Memorial Day, Americans honor our fallen war veterans and also our deceased loved ones by decorating cemeteries and grave sites. But some Michigan cemeteries come already decorated — with mysterious headstones that glow by themselves!
One of the best known graveyards with unexplained night lights is Forest Hill Cemetery just east of Evart on Six Mile Road. People have reported seeing strangely glowing objects there since the late 1800s. The cemetery lies near a place where Italian railroad workers once camped. According to local legend, a father and son from that camp both drowned in the nearby Muskegon River. The father’s job had been to light kerosene lanterns at nightfall, and after his death other workers claimed they saw lanterns that appeared lit at a distance but darkened when approached. They whispered that the lights were carried by the ghost of the father searching for his dead son. As the cemetery grew nearby, however, eventually the tombstones took on the glow of the phantom lanterns.
The tombstones also worked – and still work — the same way as the lanterns. Half a dozen or so tombstones appear to glow from within when viewed from outside the cemetery, but fade when the viewer moves in for a closer look. Jim Crees, editor of the Evart Review, wrote in a July 1, 1988 article that local investigators spent three weeks studying everything from the angle of passing automobile headlights to possible reflections of city lights. Phosphorescent headstone materials were also ruled out. Crees declared the mystery unsolved.
Harrison Cemetery at Schoolcraft also boasts glowing headstones. Strangely, they behave just like the Evart stones and lose their illumination at a distance of about 500 feet. Is this a type of spirit manifestation or some little known effect of Michigan air, soil or landscape that is somehow transferred to the headstones? Whatever the cause, Michigan’s glowing tombstones provide a year-round memorial to the unknown.