Detroit Ghost Stories that Will Haunt You

By: Michael Fossbakk | October 7, 2019

Who doesn’t love a good ghost story? The best ones may not get us to believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that ghosts are real — they just need us to ask the question.

Detroit has a long history and, with it, many tall tales of ghosts, spirits and all things supernatural haunting everyday citizens, buildings and homes alike. Last year, we covered a few companies that provide “ghost tours,” telling tales of haunted parts of Detroit. This year, we thought we’d share a few more stories of things that go bump in the night in the Motor City.

The Snake Goddess of Belle Isle

Belle Isle is home to an aquarium, a conservatory, park attractions, a beach and, apparently, ghosts? That’s right! According to this tall tale, there is a ghost known as The Snake Goddess of Belle Isle that lingers on the island. Stop on the bridge on Tanglewood Drive, turn off your car and honk your horn three times to see her appear from the forest.

As the story goes, The Snake Goddess was the daughter of Ottawa Chief Sleeping Bear. Fearing for her safety, Chief Sleeping Bear placed his daughter on what is now known as Belle Isle. The Chief asked the Great Spirits to protect his daughter, so they surrounded the island with snakes and granted her immortality.

Detroit Tall Tales Over Cocktails Podcast

If you want to hear real stories from real Detroiters, checkout Detroit Tall Tales Over Cocktails. It’s a very new podcast hosted by Detroit-native Samara Hill. Currently, there are two episodes available for your spooky pleasure. The first episode serves mostly as an introduction to Hill’s background. The show hits its stride in the second episode when Hill brings on family members to recount real ghost stories of their own. The podcast is available on Spotify.

Possible Ghost Caught on a Nanny Cam

This past March, local ABC affiliate WXYZ reported on a family in Highland, Michigan that has reason to believe their house is haunted. Thanks to footage recorded on a baby monitoring “nanny cam,” parents Heather Brough and Joshua Higgins believe they saw a ghost standing next to their daughter’s crib.

“I freaked out,” Brough said. “I stopped what I was doing and I ran upstairs and grabbed my daughter.”

Brough and Higgins also noticed scratch marks on their daughter after the incident.

Thomas Bradford, The Spiritualist

Have you ever heard of Thomas Lynn Bradford? He was a Detroit resident and spiritualist in the 1920s. His spiritualism meant that he believed in the afterlife and that those who pass on are still able to communicate with the living. He believed this so much so that he decided to conduct an experiment on himself to prove his theories to the world. But, there was one catch.

He had to die.

Bradford killed himself by asphyxiation when he turned off the pilot light for his heater and turned up the gas valve. What followed was an account by two different women who claimed to have been visited by Bradford’s spirit, one a friend and the other a complete stranger.

Bradford may not have proved the existence of an afterlife or a “spirit’s” ability to communicate with the living world, but his devotion to these beliefs make this an interesting story.