Wisconsin and Michigan are alike in many ways; they both border Lake Michigan, feature smallish but fierce mammals as mascots, and are shaped roughly like mittens. One more unfortunate similarity is that each harbors a stretch of river that has earned a reputation for repeated, unexplained drownings. Many of the victims in both states have been college students, leading to speculation about serial killers and supernatural causes.
Wisconsin’s river of death is the Mississippi where it flows past La Crosse. Starting with the death of a doctor in the 1800s, the river has claimed frequent lives, many of them students at UW-La Crosse. The apparent cause is always simple drowning, and the most recent occurred in late September 2007. Strangely, it was three days after a man and his son reported that a man-sized, bat-winged creature almost flew into the windshield of their truck. A similar creature, Mothman, was sighted around Point Pleasant, Virginia in the 60s before a local bridge collapsed and killed many, leading some to surmise that these winged things are harbingers of death. (See Strange Wisconsin, More Badger State Weirdness)
Michigan’s similarly dangerous waters flow in the Huron River near Peninsular Park, in an area where a large old paper mill once commanded the river’s power. According to writer James Mann in the Ann Arbor News, drownings were a yearly occurrence there throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and many victims were students at the present Eastern Michigan University. It got to the point where the school would not permit its enrollees to dip even a toe into the Huron’s chill waters.
The river then turned its siren-like attention to other citizens who were still foolhardy enough to dive in. One man whose identity was never discovered was found in late September, 1930. The red-haired man, thought to be a vagrant, had tattoos on his arm — a lovely lady’s face and an ornament in the shape of a shield — but no one ever stepped forward to claim him.
Michiganders and Wisconsinites alike can only hope the Huron and Mississippi have had their fill of human bodies. Weird Michigan’s advice? Always use the buddy system, and watch out for strange flying things overhead.