The Kalamazoo Mystery Team

By: Madeline Marchak

It began in the summer of 2011 when my friends and I had reached a point of age crisis. We were roughly 17, staring at the ugly head of senior year, our impending futures, and the inevitable rift between us. Although the fear of growing up had not actually set in, we were desperate for anything far from the adult world to distract us. It came to me one morning while reading some urban legends associated with Michigan – to explore the local unknown ourselves.

I would like to say that “I gathered my team,” but my so-called “team” involved anyone with a car and free on any given night. We scoured the Internet and rifled through the libraries until we had set our list of supernatural occurrences and a group name, “The Kalamazoo Mystery Team.” Together, we attempted to debunk at least ten legends over the course of three summers and failed tremendously at each task.

Our first attempt was that of a mausoleum located in a cemetery near Vicksburg that acted as a gateway to Hell. We pulled up in our beat-up cars at dusk, equipped with two containers of salt, flashlights, and a piece of jewelry someone claimed to have been made of iron. We searched the graveyard that was smaller and less ominous than we had imagined and sadly could not find even a mausoleum to begin with. We settled for the groundskeeper’s shed, which only proved to be terrifying in its amount of littered pop cans. We were dejected until a girl mentioned that she brought her aunt’s book of Wiccan spells, and we proceeded to drive to another, much more impressive cemetery to have a séance. When it was completely dark, we had located a small valley amidst the gravestones and sat in a circle. The girl with the book lit a candle and repeated incantations, and, with eyes closed and hands held tight, we waited for a ghost. Everyone decided the séance had been a bust after waiting for five minutes – and unceremoniously breaking the circle without sending the spirit home – but I will protest that I heard footsteps in our moment of silence, crunching the grass behind us slowly down the hill.

Another expedition involved the Melon Heads at Felt Mansion in Saugatuck. “Melon Heads” was a name for those who suffered from hydrocephalus and had remarkably large heads. The legend stated that back around 1900, there was an asylum for the Melon Heads, but the doctor at that asylum abused them and experimented on them. When the funds for the asylum had run out, the doctor sent the Melon Heads out into the wild, where they have been since. After a trip to the beach, we decided to find Felt Mansion, the old asylum, and find some sign of the improbable tale. We drove down a long country road until we eventually came to a dead end. The sun was slowly setting as we crept down this road by the woods, seeing an abandoned semi-truck between the trees. When we reached the dead end, we were suddenly alarmed by the pair of incredibly aged roller skates dangling over the dirty dead end sign. We immediately reversed and never attempted to find the asylum again.

I would like to say that there had been a successful time, that after searching for the paranormal, we did experience something that proved the local legends to be true or fake. However, we were kids with flashlights and a zeal for the unexplained – we were never meant to figure it out.

Here’s a link to a few occurrences we have visited or wanted to:


15 thoughts on “The Kalamazoo Mystery Team

  1. This would make an excellent comic or short story! Your misadventures are humorous and earnest at the same time. It’s such a cool idea to do this with your friends, and the friendship strengthening and memories alone are probably worth it, even if you didn’t find anything. Those skates are extra shady though, so you guys made the right decision.

  2. I cannot say that this is how I would send my free time but I agree with Amelia, this would make a good story or even a tv show if y’all did it long enough. Are you relieved that these were unsuccessful? I could not imagine my high school self knowing what to do if I actually did find something creepy in the middle of nowhere. I also have never heard of half these places and I’m oddly glad because it would appear that Michigan is rather creepy.

    • Yes, I am totally relieved that these were unsuccessful! In the moment, you always kind of want something to happen, but it’s like you said – I wouldn’t know what to do with any creepy instance either.

  3. This is so cool. You guys are brave. I like horror but I cant say that I or any of my good friends would do anything like this. Its interesting though because im from Michigan but I havent heard of any of these places or urban legends. I have heard of Kalamazoo itself though. Besides hearing footsteps did you experience anything else? Did your friends see or hear anything after all of this took place?

    • These legends are pretty obscure, and a lot of the ones we were able to attempt were either local tales or simply word-of-mouth. I personally did not experience anything else, but I was on edge for the rest of the night. Nobody else admits to anything, but I think it’s because the ones who were most receptive to believing (besides myself) chose not to participate in the séance.

  4. This is awesome! I would have loved to do something like this in highschool, but none of my friends really were into that kind of stuff. I’m curious if, after taking this class, you would be as apt to do this kind of exploration now. I personally feel like I’ve lost a lot of my bravery after taking this class because I now think of the consequences my curiosity could cause. While I can say that I would have for sure gone looking for the asylum in high school, I doubt that I would now.

    • I feel like this class has given me a better perspective on all things horror – I think one of the things to take away is to be aware of things that just spell trouble. That being said, if I had to do it again, I’d probably rethink purposely going to places like “Hatchet Man Road.”

  5. This is crazy!!! So cool, but I cannot imagine ever being brave enough to be willing to set you in the middle of the night to haunted places! I would have been terrified sitting in a graveyard in the middle of the night with only my friends around waiting for ghosts to come! I think it is interesting that you never sent the spirit back… I wonder if there were ever any consequences because of that…

    • According to the spell we used, apparently the spirit we tried to contact was supposed to reappear to someone around 3:00 AM to one of us exclusively if I remember correctly. However, nobody experienced this, and nobody admitted to experiencing anything odd afterwards. I do think about how we never properly ended the séance but just broke it up when it became “lame.”

  6. I’m impressed you guys actually went through with trying to debunk the myths. My friends and I would’ve probably just talked about it but never actually executed it. I love urban legends and myths so I think what you guys did is very cool. What were you going to do if you actually got far enough to debunk the myth? My friends have summoned ghosts but only when we played with our Ouija board. Yes, I actually believe in Ouija boards. It is totally possible that one of my friends could have been pushing it, but you can’t be 100% sure of that. Have you ever played with a Ouija board?

    • I honestly don’t know what my friends and I would have done if we thought we found any conclusive evidence – we probably would have left it alone at the very least. We’ve tried Ouija Boards in the past, but due to the overwhelming lack of belief in the group, the whole thing devolved incredibly quickly. I personally do believe in Ouija boards somewhat – I’m not sure if I’m sold on the actual summoning of ghosts, but I do believe that messing with them causes a collection of negative or confused energy, be it specter or just bad luck.

  7. I think it’s really cool that you guys pursued these legends and ghost stories, I will openly admit that I would be way too scared to do anything that you described. And even though you didn’t find any conclusions, I still think the experience sounds really interesting and it definitely gave you something out of the ordinary to do, which is not something many people can say for their extracurricular high school experiences. How close to your home were the cemeteries and other places you explored? For me, if I were going to do some digging in the paranormal activity of the world I would try to do it as far from the comfort zone of my home as possible.

    • A lot of explorations were places we had grown up around and known the stories of – I often found the events to be more interesting when at least one person was personally invested in the legend. Also, the ordeal of branching out from southwest Michigan was a bit more arduous than anticipated, so that also led us to remain pretty local. We never really thought of comfort zone when we went, actually! That’s funny that you mention it – my friend actually lived right around the corner from Hatchet Man Road, so we just went to her house and walked down to the old street from there. That was perhaps the closest “investigation” we ever had to anyone’s home; the rest were a good couple of miles away from everyone else.

  8. While I enjoy hearing about scary stories associated with places, I would never go and try to find them myself. I’ll leave that up to ghost hunters and the people of Destination Truth. It’s interesting that your friends would hold a seance and then just give up entirely, without really caring about what could happen if you didn’t end it properly. I’m also really wondering, why is there an abandoned semi truck? That would interest me a lot more, since it’s a really odd thing to just abandon.

  9. Props to you guys for actually going to investigate those things! I always used to tell myself that I wanted to go visit an asylum and things of that sort but I don’t think I could ever build up the courage to do it. How many of people were in your “team”? Maybe I could do it if there were like 15 other people. I’m also from Michigan so I’m curious to read and hear about all of these occurrences. I always thought Michigan was a boring state.

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