“THE INHUMANLY HUMAN MEN IN BLACK” and More Disturbing True Stories! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: The Bermuda Triangle isn’t the only watery region with a reputation for unexplainable events and tragedies. For centuries, a triangular portion of Lake Michigan has been ground zero for sunken ships, disappearing crews, and vanishing aircraft. As if these incidents aren’t creepy enough, what is now known as the Lake Michigan Triangle is also notorious for UFO sightings and strange lights appearing on the horizon. (The Lake Michigan Paranormal Triangle) *** There’s a beast living in the woodlands outside of Rhinelander, Wisconsin – and its description is beyond belief. I’ll introduce you to the hodag! (Meet the Hodag) *** Sylvia Plath died by suicide at the age of 30 on February 11, 1963, following a barrage of literary rejections and her husband’s infidelity. We’ll look at her haunting story and tragic death. (The Tragic Death of Sylvia Plath) *** It’s approximately four hundred years old, full of colorful illustrations of plants, flowers, the stars, women, medicinal herbs, and text… yet no one has been able to decipher exactly what the Voynich Manuscript is for or what it says. (The Voynich Manuscript) *** The disappearance of a person is a tragedy no matter how you look at it. When we first read about missing people we usually automatically assume the most logical explanation was what happened. But what if we’re wrong? We’ll look at the vanishing of Claude and Sue Shelton. (The Shelton Disappearance) *** Unlike their Hollywood counterparts, the real-life Men in Black are mysterious figures who threaten people who have reported paranormal experiences. (The Intimidating and Terrifying Men In Black) *** (New episode November 07, 2023)
SOURCES AND REFERENCES FROM THE EPISODE…
BOOK: “The Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers” by Gray Barker: https://amzn.to/3FMkmXZ
BOOK: “Flying Saucers And The Three Men” by Albert Bender: https://amzn.to/40IKixr
“The Lake Michigan Paranornal Triangle” by Megan Summers for Graveyard Shift: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/y2zb3xjd
“The Tragic Death of Sylvia Plath” by Kaleena Fraga for All That’s Interesting: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/5764u398
“The Voynich Manuscript” by Shelly Barclay for Historic Mysteries: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2p8a92bu
“Meet the Hodag” from The Ghost In My Machine: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2p8bv8ws (PHOTOS of the captured hodag: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2p8u5abz; statue in front of Chamber of Commerce:https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2p8c3h38; statue at ice arena: https://explorerhinelander.com/Listings/rhinelander-ice-arena/)
“The Shelton Disappearance” by Crystal Dawn for Lost N’ Found Blogs: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/yckkskp7
“The Intimidating and Terrifying Men in Black” by Austin Harvey for All That’s Interesting:https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/3ccn32bj
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In 1997, Men in Black hit theaters. A science-fiction comedy based on a Marvel comic series and starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, the film tells the story of an NYPD officer who unwittingly chases down a disguised alien and is recruited to join a top-secret organization, the Men in Black, with the goal of keeping the public unaware of alien refugees on Earth. The movie was a hit, sequels were made, and most people likely went on with their lives not thinking much more about it. But for a select group of conspiracy theorists and ufologists, the Men in Black were more than just a Hollywood fabrication. In fact, stories of the Men in Black had been circulating for half a century before the film was released. The “real” Men in Black are said to be shadowy, secretive figures dressed in dark suits who visit witnesses of strange, paranormal phenomena — typically, those who have claimed to see UFOs. MIBs usually appear in groups of two or three, allegedly threatening witnesses to ensure they remain silent about what they’ve seen. Some have claimed the MIBs are government agents, but others believe they may in fact be shapeshifting aliens in disguise. In either case, those who claim to have had experiences with the real Men in Black are not quick to forget them.
I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.
Welcome, Weirdos – this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
Coming up in this episode…
The Bermuda Triangle isn’t the only watery region with a reputation for unexplainable events and tragedies. For centuries, a triangular portion of Lake Michigan has been ground zero for sunken ships, disappearing crews, and vanishing aircraft. As if these incidents aren’t creepy enough, what is now known as the Lake Michigan Triangle is also notorious for UFO sightings and strange lights appearing on the horizon. (The Lake Michigan Paranormal Triangle)
There’s a beast living in the woodlands outside of Rhinelander, Wisconsin – and its description is beyond belief. (Meet the Hodag)
Sylvia Plath died by suicide at the age of 30 on February 11, 1963, following a barrage of literary rejections and her husband’s infidelity. We’ll look at her haunting story and tragic death. (The Tragic Death of Sylvia Plath)
It’s approximately four hundred years old, full of colorful illustrations of plants, flowers, the stars, women, medicinal herbs, and text… yet no one has been able to decipher exactly what the Voynich Manuscript is for or what it says. (The Voynich Manuscript)
The disappearance of a person is a tragedy no matter how you look at it. When we first read about missing people we usually automatically assume the most logical explanation was what happened. But what if we’re wrong? We’ll look at the vanishing of Claude and Sue Shelton. (The Shelton Disappearance)
Unlike their Hollywood counterparts, the real-life Men in Black are mysterious figures who threaten people who have reported paranormal experiences. (The Intimidating and Terrifying Men In Black)
If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, to visit sponsors you hear about during the show, sign up for my newsletter, enter contests, connect with me on social media, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression or dark thoughts. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: THE INTIMIDATING AND TERRIFYING MEN IN BLACK=====
In 1956, Gray Barker released the book They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers, in which he compiled a series of accounts from people who claimed to have had encounters with aliens before being visited by strange men in dark suits. I’ll link to the book in the show notes.
From Barker’s account, the first mention of Men in Black can be traced back to June 27, 1947 and a man named Harold Dahl in what came to be known as the Maury Island UFO Incident.
According to Dahl’s account, Dahl was on a conservation mission, gathering logs with his son Charles near the eastern shore of Maury Island, Washington in Puget Sound. As he was working, Dahl claimed, he saw six donut-shaped objects hovering in the air, roughly half a mile above his boat. Before he could make sense of what he was seeing, one of the objects fell from the sky, dropping a barrage of metallic debris.
Some of the debris struck Charles, and Dahl snapped several photographs of the flying objects. When the men were back on land, Dahl showed the photographs to his supervisor, Fred Crisman. Crisman was skeptical. But when he went to investigate the scene for himself, he allegedly saw one of the strange flying objects hovering before him.
The next morning, Dahl claimed he was visited by a man in a black suit who was able to describe Dahl’s experience in eerily accurate detail. The man then said to him, “What I have said is proof to you that I know a great deal more about this experience of yours than you will want to believe.”
Before leaving, the man warned Dahl that bad things would happen to him if he should ever speak of the incident.
Although both Dahl and Crisman later said the incident was a hoax, it did little to stop conspiracy theorists and ufologists from looking into it.
Admittedly, the Maury Island Incident gained little notice until Barker’s book was published — but it was the way in which Barker connected Dahl’s story to that of a young man named Albert K. Bender that truly kicked off the Men in Black fascination.
In 1952, Albert Bender created an organization known as the International Flying Saucer Bureau, a short-lived project mostly known for the magazine it published, Space Review. In a 1953 edition of Space Review, Bender claimed he had been visited by “three men wearing dark suits,” according to Live Science. These men, he said, told him to cease publishing information about UFOs.
That same year, Space Review stopped publishing altogether, and the International Flying Saucer Bureau ceased to be. Many assumed Bender had been planning to stop publishing anyway, due to his magazine making little money.
Still, Bender’s story caught the attention of Gray Barker, and it became yet another account in They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers to feature the Men in Black.
In his book, Barker recounted Bender’s experience, describing the Men in Black as “Three men in black suits with threatening expressions on their faces. Three men who walk in on you and make certain demands. Three men who know that you know what the saucers really are!”
Those who believed in UFO conspiracies often looked to the Men in Black as some kind of proof that these phenomena were true — if a witness was threatened, that made them more believable, the logic went. After all, why would someone try to silence something if it weren’t true?
By this point, UFOs had evolved from a fringe tabloid section of the paper to the front page. These were the years following the infamous Roswell, New Mexico UFO incident, and Barker’s book served less as a conspiratorial manifesto and more as a collection of a new sort of folklore.
This understanding of UFO phenomena and the Men in Black as folklore or cultural mythology was furthered by a 1957 report from famed psychoanalyst Carl Jung, “Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies.”
While Jung never argued for or against the existence of UFOs, he noted, “Our time is characterized by fragmentation, confusion, and perplexity… At such times men’s eyes turn to heaven for help, and marvelous signs appear from on high.”
In fact in the encyclopedia UFOs and Popular Culture, folklorist James Lewis wrote of Barker: “Barker considered himself an entertainer and folklorist rather than a factual reporter and was a gifted writer with a gentle, understated sense of humor.”
As time went on, the mythology of UFOs continued to evolve. More and more people came forward claiming to have seen aliens or mysterious objects in the sky, and many of these incidents have become the focus of fascination in their own right.
UFO stories evolved culturally as well, as more films, television shows, novels, comics, and eventually video games took UFOs and extraterrestrial life to greater heights.
In 1962, Albert Bender released his own book specifically about the Men in Black, Flying Saucers and the Three Men (link in the show notes). Bender’s own words painted an even more sinister image of the Men in Black:
“They floated about a foot off the floor… They looked like clergymen, but wore hats similar to Homburg style. The faces were not clearly discernible, for the hats partly hid and shaded them… The eyes of all three figures suddenly lit up like flashlight bulbs… They seemed to burn into my very soul as the pains above my eyes became almost unbearable.”
Like so much else in the conversation regarding UFOs, the Men in Black changed over time. No longer were they simply government agents offering a warning — they were mysterious entities unto themselves, seemingly human and inhuman at the same time.
“The transformation of the story from a first press report to a folkloric tale to a comic book and now to a film illustrates how the myth is transformed,” Phil Patton wrote for the New York Times in 1997, around the time Men in Black hit theaters. “That process is not unlike the children’s game of telephone or what the literary critic Harold Bloom calls innovation by misinterpretation. The period when the saucer phenomenon was new is now a point of reference.”
In the quarter-century since Men in Black released, it too has become a point of reference. Stories of the real Men in Black don’t circulate as often now as they did in the mid-20th century — partly because the mere concept has been turned into something of a joke.
Still, in the midst of the UFO cultural zeitgeist, the Men in Black were for a time a key part of the conversation, and claiming to encounter them was tantamount to proving that you really had seen aliens.
Coming up… the Bermuda Triangle isn’t the only watery region with a reputation for unexplainable events and tragedies. For centuries, a triangular portion of Lake Michigan has been ground zero for sunken ships, disappearing crews, vanishing aircraft, strange lights, and UFOs. We’ll look at the Lake Michigan Triangle.
But first – the disappearance of a person is a tragedy no matter how you look at it. When we first read about missing people we usually automatically assume the most logical explanation was what happened. But what if we’re wrong? We’ll look at the vanishing of Claude and Sue Shelton, up next on Weird Darkness!
STORY: THE SHELTON DISAPPEARANCE=====
Life was quiet and seemingly uneventful for Claude and Martha “Sue” Shelton. Claude had worked as a mechanic at the Owens Tire and Muffler Company in Corbin for 10 years while Sue stayed at home and looked after the children. They were the parents to Sheila (10), Ronnie (8), and Debbie (7). The family of 5 all lived together in their trailer at Gerry’s Trailer Park on 18th St in Corbin, Kentucky. Life was seemingly good…until it wasn’t.
On Friday, May 28th, 1971, the Shelton family had gone to see Claude’s mother, Tempie Elswick, in Williamsburg, KY, only about 17 miles from Corbin. It was a nice visit and nothing seemed out of the ordinary. They arrived back in Corbin that night after dark. The children were then tucked into bed. But what would happen overnight would change this young family forever.
The Shelton’s oldest child Sheila had not yet fallen asleep. She heard her parents and was curious so she listened closer to hear her father say to her mother something like “if you’re going with me you better come on.” The next morning the children awoke to find something they didn’t understand at all. Their parents were gone.
Sometime that morning Claude’s boss at Owen’s had come to the trailer park to see why Claude wasn’t at work. He normally worked a half day on Saturdays. It is then that people were alerted to this bizarre scene and the police were called in to investigate.
According to a newspaper article, the children were taken in briefly by friends of the couple until the school year concluded. Ultimately, Sue’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Conley Hunley, would come and get their 3 grandchildren and take them to their home in Knoxville.
Police and really everyone who knew the Shelton’s were shocked and had absolutely no idea where the couple could be. After hearing of the final words that Sheila overheard, it made even less sense. The couple had left the trailer in their 1967 two door white Ford Galaxie 500 (license plate Whitley County 937-944). Some reports say Sue’s purse was left behind while others say it wasn’t. The couple, from what everyone could tell anyway, took no belongings with them on their late night trip.
There was an intensive search for the Sheltons. The Civil Air Patrol Squadron and Rescue Squads from 4 towns searched the area. The Laurel River Lake was being created around that time and was a source for some of the searches. Even with all of the investigating and diligent effort by Law Enforcement there was absolutely no trace of Claude and Sue Shelton or their car. The case grew cold very quickly.
The owner of Gerry’s Trailer Park in Corbin confirmed that the Shelton’s only had one payment left on their trailer. Marvin Craig worked with Claude Shelton for the entire 10 years he was at Owen’s and the two were friends. He remembers Claude as a quiet but pleasant man, a perfectionist. Claude seemed to be devoted to his family and would speak of his young son often, Mr. Craig remembers. He also mentioned that when the Shelton’s disappeared Claude would have had two checks ready (salary and commission checks) as the company would pay the workers monthly. He also said that Claude left behind about $3000 worth of Duro brand tools (the amount listed is the value they would be in 1971).
This case would get a little more attention in 2009. Turns out that female remains that were found in Oregon in August of 1971 loosely resembled that of Sue Shelton. The female was initially referred to as “Annie Doe”. She remained unidentified for decades. Then when DNA testing became more available, police contacted Debbie and Sheila for a DNA sample to compare it to the unknown remains. This visit came just a few weeks after the daughters had lost their grandmother (Sue’s mother) and it was hopeful this was a sign that could lead to closure in their parents’ disappearance. However, after DNA testing was complete, it was announced that the remains belonged to Annie Marie Lehman, a 16 year old who had disappeared under troubling circumstances in Washington State in the winter or spring of 1971.
Fast forward to today. There has still been absolutely no trace of Claude and Sue Shelton. There continue to be sporadic searches in the water around Corbin. “Adventures With Purpose” and other dive teams even searched the area a year ago (you can find the video on YT). Everyone is still completely mystified as to what happened to the couple. Here are the main theories:
One theory is that the Shelton’s may have accidentally driven in water nearby. As stated, the Laurel River Lake was being constructed from 1964-1974. It is listed as being 279’ deep. If the couple did drive in the lake they have never been found despite numerous searches there.
Another theory mentioned is that the Shelton’s met with foul play. It is not verified, but there were reports of an abandoned car with its hood up found in or near the town that night. It has even been mentioned that it might have been stolen, (again no actual verification of this). This could mean that Claude, being a mechanic, may have stopped to assist the motorist and possibly met with violence that night along with his wife.
Debbie is the Shelton’s youngest daughter. Although only 7 when her parents vanished she has been living with this mystery practically her entire life. Debbie does not think that the real story has been put out there and that “no one has really cared” over the years. It’s time that the Shelton’s children’s opinion should now be heard.
The Shelton children say there is some misinformation being reported. First, the date of the disappearance is reported as May 21st or 28th but an official website says it was the latter date. Some places don’t even get the children’s’ age or sex right but it was again Sheila, Ronnie and Debbie. Sheila clarified once again recently, she heard absolutely no mention of her father talking about going to King’s Truck Stop that night. They are unsure where that came from and the children say they weren’t in the habit of going there. They also say their parent’s did not have a jar of money they were saving up that reports say they took that night. As far as what the children think happened to their parents, well that might surprise you.
The Shelton’s children are adamant that their parents left… simply because they wanted to. Debbie was already asleep that night but Sheila (and possibly Ronnie) heard their father and were convinced from day one that they wanted to leave. Debbie wasn’t told this by her siblings until she was in her 20’s (she was asleep that night and didn’t hear her father’s words) and at first was surprised but the more she thought about it, the more it seemed the most logical explanation. But of course nothing is logical about this case.
The Shelton children have chosen to keep their thoughts about this to themselves until now. Their parents were a subject that was rarely brought up over the years, even between themselves or other family members. They also wanted to protect their grandmother, Margaret Conley, who had raised them. They knew how painful it would be if she thought Sue had abandoned her own children. Sadly, she passed away on Mother’s Day in 2009, still mourning her daughter every day. With her grandmother gone, this is one of the reasons that Debbie felt comfortable in finally speaking out about the disappearance.
The Shelton family would go on to have more than its fair share of tragedy. Of Claude and Sue Shelton’s 4 grandchildren, 3 of them have died at an early age. More recently, there was a bright spot for the family when Debbie and Ronnie got together with a group of their cousins from the Shelton side in early October of 2021. It was a bonding time for the cousins and they planned to stay in touch. Sadly, another tragedy was on the horizon as Ronnie Shelton, Claude & Sue’s only son, would suddenly die from a heart attack just a few weeks later in October of 2021. He was only 58 years old.
It’s hard to believe that the Shelton’s, who had lived in Corbin for many years, would be unfamiliar with the area and accidentally drive into the water. The foul play aspect is certainly a possibility but again, it’s surprising no trace of them or their car has ever been found in all these years with countless searches.
As far as them leaving their children, at first we think no one would ever be capable of that. No reports of any abuse or mistreatment of their children were ever reported. Everyone had only kind things to say about Claude and Sue. But their actions that night just don’t make sense. They spent the day and night with their children, got home late, tucked them into bed and shortly after just left? What would possibly be the reason for that? If it was to run a quick errand, why wouldn’t they have done it with the children before they got home that night? The children say they had never left them late at night before. Debbie believes they may have left overnight to get a head start in wherever they were going. Meaning they wouldn’t be discovered missing for many hours. She also wonders if the trip to their grandmother’s that night was so their father could see his mother one last time before he left.
It would have been easier to “disappear” if you wanted to in 1971 than it would be today. Even though the children never saw any jar with money collected (this information was given by a so-called “witness”), it is possible it existed and was hidden. If it was there and was taken that night, it might bolster the theory that the couple had a plan to leave their life behind and brought the money with them to assist with that.
Of course, the true victims of this disappearance are the children: Sheila, Ronnie and Debbie. Imagine having an enjoyable night at your grandparents’ house, looking forward to a carefree summer, then waking up one morning to find out you’re now an orphan. Not knowing whether your parents were injured, dead or just decided to leave you, which scenario is the best to believe? They are all horrible possibilities that these children have had to live with for over 50 years. As you might understand, it’s easier for them to just put it out of their heads. They did, and all went on to live happy and productive lives despite the sadness of their childhood.
As the expression goes, “cold cases grow cold because their story stops getting told”. Hopefully our telling this story will warm it up a bit. Without finding some evidence of the Shelton’s and their car though, or evidence that they existed past 1971, we will probably never truly know whether that night was an accident, an abandonment, or something much more sinister.
STORY: THE LAKE MICHIGAN PARANORMAL TRIANGLE=====
It’s been dubbed the Lake Michigan Triangle. “A lot of interesting stories have come out of that region of Lake Michigan,” Wisconsin Maritime Museum submarine curator Karen Duvalle says. “No one knows why,” she then explained. One thing is clear about the Lake Michigan triangle: The mystery doesn’t seem to be easing up anytime soon.
The Lake Michigan Triangle is scalene in shape, meaning none of its sides are equal. The three points of the triangle are marked by three different cities. On the Wisconsin side, there’s Manitowoc; on the Michigan side, there’s Ludington to the north and Benton Harbor to the south.
Unexplained phenomena and frightening legends related to the region date all the way back to the late 17th century, when a French vessel disappeared with the tide… never to be seen again.
The Great Lakes’ oldest shipwreck remains one of its most puzzling. The French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle commissioned and oversaw the construction of Le Griffon, a massive ship designed for fur hauling. In August 1679, Le Griffon set off on its maiden voyage from Niagara to Michilimackinac – an outpost in the Straits of Mackinaw.
Some historians allege the ship had larger ambitions beyond the outpost: to discover a northwest passage to China and Japan. Unfortunately, Le Griffon vanished while traversing the Lake Michigan Triangle. La Salle had already departed for the mainland, and his remaining six crew members met the same fate as his ship.
In 2001, a researcher named Steve Libert found what he claimed to be Le Griffon’s bowsprit at the bottom of Lake Michigan. The elaborately designed spar includes sculptures of a mythical half lion, half eagle creature. Libert’s findings have yet to be verified, and the rest of the ship has never been recovered.
Close to 200 years later, the deadliest open water sinking on the Great Lakes would propel the Lake Michigan Triangle into infamy. In the wee hours of September 8, 1860, the wooden-hulled sidewheel steamship PS Lady Elgin collided with the much smaller schooner Augusta, which was loaded down with heavy lumber and headed for Chicago.
“The vessel seemed to pay no attention to us,” Lady Elgin Second Mate M.W. Beeman told The Chicago Tribune at the time. “She struck us just forward the paddle box on the larboard side, tearing off the wheel, cutting through the guards and into the cabin and hull.”
The Augusta continued on for Chicago as the Lady Elgin took on more and more water. Hundreds of sleeping passengers on the overpacked steamship returning to Milwaukee from Chicago, exhausted from a night of merriment and dancing, received a rude awakening when the ship’s crew began their evacuation efforts. “Everything that could be was done to try to stop up the hole,” said Frederick Rice, a steward. “Mattresses were pushed into it, and planks spiked over it, but to no avail.”
Three hundred people perished as a result of the crash, including the Lady Elgin’s captain, Jack Wilson, who spent his final hours saving as many passengers as possible.
Built in 1870, the 132-foot long, three-masted schooner Thomas Hume belonged to lumber baron Charles Hackey’s fleet of ships when it disappeared within the Lake Michigan Triangle in 1891. Sailing alongside one of its sister ships, the Rouse Simmons, the Thomas Hume embarked from Muskegon, WI, to Chicago with a large shipment of lumber.
After delivering the wood, both ships turned around to venture back toward Muskegon. Seeing ominous storm clouds gathering in the distance, the crew of the Rouse Simmons decided to turn back and stay in Chicago until the weather improved. The Thomas Hume, on the other side, kept on toward home.
When the Rouse Simmons returned to Muskegon two days later, its crew knew something was wrong when there was no sign of the Thomas Hume in the harbor. Hackey and his business partner Hume put up a $300 reward for information on the Thomas Hume’s whereabouts, but the ship and its seven crew members were nowhere to be found. Multiple search operations also resulted in failure.
Fast forward a few hundred years to 2005, when professional recovery diver Taras Lysenko found the intact remains of the Thomas Hume in the southeastern portion of Lake Michigan. Shipwreck experts have since shared their theories about what likely happened to the ill-fated ship, such as the storm overhead produced turbulent seas, causing it to capsize.
Even though it avoided disaster in 1891, the Rouse Simmons later succumbed to the Lake Michigan Triangle on November 22, 1912. The ship and its 16 crew members, including Captain Herman Schuenemann, embarked upon a familiar journey from Thompson, MI, to Chicago, set to deliver a load of at least 5,000 Christmas trees. Schuenemann had just recently acquired the schooner for his burgeoning business, the Northern Michigan Evergreen Nursery.
But the Rouse Simmons never made it to Chicago. On November 23, the ship was seen flying a distress flag in clear conditions. However, when a rescue boat finally arrived at the location, there was no sign of the Rouse Simmons anywhere. Wreckage from the ship, including Christmas trees and Captain Schuenemann’s wallet, washed ashore in the following decades. It wasn’t until October 1971 that the Rouse Simmons was found by scuba diver Gordon Kent Bellrichard off the coast of Two Rivers, WI.
What caused the beloved “Christmas Tree Ship” and its equally beloved “Captain Santa” to go down in the Lake Michigan Triangle? The answer is likely a combination of bad winter weather, a lack of routine maintenance on the ship, and the weight added by all its yuletide cargo.
The two-masted schooner Rosabelle, built in 1863, had a good life before an unexplained collision in the Lake Michigan Triangle resulted in the ravaged ship washing ashore in 1921. In late October of that year, the Rosabelle left High Island, MI, bound for Benton Harbor. Loaded with lumber, the Rosabelle encountered some sort of disturbance, and its remains were found 42 miles from Milwaukee. None of the ship’s 11 crew members were accounted for, and their bodies remain uncovered to this day.
While some accounts claim the Rosabelle met its demise during a storm, others believe it was involved in some sort of clash with another vessel. What remains so confounding about this theory is that no records of accidents were reported by other ships in the area at the time. Did the Rosabelle meet a rogue wave, or was something more nefarious at play? The fact that the ship’s yawl, or two-headed sail, was never recovered adds yet another layer to an already complex mystery.
“A new mystery of the Great Lakes (has) unfolded… the freighter O.M. McFarland docked in Port Washington, WI, and crew members reported the disappearance of the ship’s master,” the Cleveland Press published in 1937. As reported by the ship’s crew, Captain George R. Donner vanished from his cabin on April 29, 1937. Days earlier, the coal-powered McFarland made it all the way to Erie, PA, where it picked up a shipment of coal. Traversing the Great Lakes, the ship had no problems until it arrived in the Lake Michigan Triangle.
After successfully guiding his ship through icy and rough waters, Captain Donner retired to his quarters late on April 28 to get a few hours of sleep. When the McFarland’s first mate knocked on Captain Donner’s door as they approached Port Washington early on April 29, there was no answer. The door to the captain’s quarters was locked, so the crew searched the galley for their skipper. There was no sign of him anywhere. This prompted the men to break down Captain Donner’s door, believing he’d fallen into a heavy sleep. Instead of finding a snoring man, the crew entered an empty cabin.
At the time of Captain Donner’s evanescence, the McFarland was approximately 30 miles from one of the Lake Michigan Triangle’s nexuses: Ludington, MI. His body was never found, and the case remains as much of an enigma as it was in 1937.
The only thing more horrific than a plane crash is a plane going dark forever, its passengers never to be recovered. That’s what happened to Northwest Airlines Flight 2501 in 1950 while flying over the Lake Michigan Triangle. En route from New York City to Seattle, the plane reached the eastern shoreline of Lake Michigan just after midnight on June 24. The plane’s captain, Robert C. Lind, requested clearance from air traffic control to descend to 2,500 feet in order to avoid a lightning storm brewing over the Great Lake. Captain Lind was denied, and the plane quickly vanished.
Lind, two crew members, and 55 passengers also vanished that night. At the time the plane went AWOL, a local of South Haven, MI, told reporters he saw “a terrific flash out in the lake.” This strange light was seen by others, one of whom explained, “It was a funny light. It looked like the sun when it goes down. It only lasted a second and then was gone.” These ghostly sights and sounds have led to speculations that something supernatural, even extraterrestrial, caused the plane to go missing.
The worst commercial airplane disaster of its time, the disappearance of Flight 2501 remains mired in controversy. Only bits of debris and, tragically, some body parts floated to shore in the days and weeks after the aircraft went dark. While it’s assumed the plane crashed into Lake Michigan because of the storm it flew into, no subsequent searches have resulted in the plane’s discovery. In fact, nautical fiction writer Clive Cussler funded a yearly quest to retrieve Northwest Flight 2501 from its watery grave. Every year, the search team returned to shore empty-handed.
Known as “The Queen of the Lakes,” the 639-foot Carl D. Bradley broke through icy Great Lake waters with ease. The freighter was used to haul limestone from Lake Huron and Lake Superior to Lake Michigan’s ports.
On November 18, 1958, traveling from Gary, IN, to the upper Lake Michigan, the Bradley ventured into a common phenomenon: a Lake Michigan storm. Having endured many bad storms, the Bradley’s captain and crew forged on. Eventually, the storm became so powerful it began to split the long ship’s hull in two. The Carl D. Bradley sank just like the Titanic: its two broken halves landing upward toward the surface of Lake Michigan.
Of the ship’s 41 crew members, only two survived. After the disaster, news reports indicated the ship didn’t make it through the storm because of damage it sustained earlier in 1958 after running aground twice.
In February 1978, West Michigander Steven Kubacki was reported missing. The Hope College student had recently commenced a cross-country skiing expedition. As authorities swept the area for signs of Kubacki, they discovered a set of footprints that led right to the eastern shore of Lake Michigan – and then ended abruptly.
After Kubacki’s skis and backpack were recovered nearby, everyone assumed he’d fallen through the surface ice on the lake and met his demise – even though the ice and snow over Lake Michigan were thick that winter. To the world’s amazement, Kubacki woke up in a grassy field 15 months later. He was 700 miles east in Pittsfield, MA. Kubacki had no memory of where he’d been for 15 months or how he ended up so far away from home. His last memory was reaching Lake Michigan.
Kubacki refused to discuss his situation after his initial rescue, and to this day, remains silent about what transpired. The baffling circumstances through which Kubacki disappeared and then reappeared, whether linked to an unearthly cause or not, will forever be a riddle.
Michigan ranks high when it comes to UFO sightings by state, and some residents conjecture the Lake Michigan Triangle is a major reason why. The disappearance of Northwest Flight 2501 has stirred interest among ufologists because locals reported seeing unexplained lights in the sky when the plane vanished. This is just the tip of the iceberg, though, when it comes to unidentified flying objects, freak weather events, and uncanny observances.
The same is true across Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. According to WOOD-TV, based out of West Michigan, Wisconsin police have been fielding complaints about UFOs over the Lake Michigan Triangle since 1913. In 1919, the New York Times reported on two colossal balls of fire seen falling into the Great Lake. The paper deemed the objects meteors, but other eyewitnesses chalked it up to “metaphysical forces” wreaking havoc. The Sausalito News in California noted, “The rumblings [from the impact] were heard as far as South Bend and La Porte, Indiana.”
In more recent history, hundreds of Michigan residents along Lake Michigan reported seeing disc-like objects, some with flashing lights, hovering over them on March 8, 1994. Among the witnesses was a local National Weather Service radar operator. “I’ve never seen anything like this, not even when I’m doing storms,” the operator exclaimed when he called the local police department. “These aren’t storms.”
“When you see it in the water, you’re tempted to say this is absolutely real,” underwater archeology professor Mark Holley shared with reporters in 2007. “But that’s what we need the experts to come in and verify.” With his colleague Brian Abbot, Holley discovered a circular stone arrangement in 40 feet of water while using sonar technology to search for shipwrecks in the Lake Michigan Triangle.
Along the periphery of the rocks, Holley and Abbot also found a boulder marked with a prehistoric carving of the long-extinct mastodon. Could the mystery of the Lake Michigan Triangle date all the way back to 10,000 plus years ago, when mastodons still roamed the planet? Research into the rock formations remains ongoing, and in order to respect indigenous groups whose ancestors may have erected Lake Michigan’s “Underwater Stonehenge,” the exact location of the structures is a secret.
Some suspect the Stonehenge-like arrangement served a ceremonial purpose, while others believe it was built to dam up the lake in order to make fishing easier. Whatever the case may be, the yet-to-be explained configuration makes up but a few imprints on the floor of a lake littered with lost hopes, stories, and ships.
When Weird Darkness returns… Sylvia Plath died by suicide at the age of 30 on February 11, 1963, following a barrage of literary rejections and her husband’s infidelity. We’ll look at her haunting story and tragic death.
Plus, it’s approximately four hundred years old, full of colorful illustrations of plants, flowers, the stars, women, medicinal herbs, and text… yet no one has been able to decipher exactly what the Voynich Manuscript is for or what it says. These stories and more on the way.
STORY: THE TRAGIC DEATH OF SLYVIA PLATH=====
On a frigid night during one of the coldest winters in London’s history, a young poet named Sylvia Plath lay down in front of the oven and turned on the gas. Since then, Sylvia Plath’s death — and her morbid novel and collections of poems — have captivated generations of readers.
A gifted writer from a young age, Plath started writing and publishing poems before she’d even reached her teens. She attended Smith College, won a guest editorship at Mademoiselle magazine, and was awarded a Fulbright Grant to study at Cambridge in London. But beneath Plath’s sterling literary credentials, she struggled with severe mental health issues.
Indeed, Plath’s inner struggles seemed intertwined with her prolific prose. While rising through the literary ranks, Plath also suffered from severe depression that resulted in psychiatric care and suicide attempts.
By the time Sylvia Plath died in 1963, both her mental health and her literary career had reached a nadir. Plath’s husband, Ted Hughes, had left her for another woman — leaving Plath to care for their two children — and Plath had received a number of rejections for her novel, The Bell Jar.
This is the tragic story of Sylvia Plath’s death, and how the young and talented poet died by suicide at the age of 30.
Born on Oct. 27, 1932, in Boston, Massachusetts, Sylvia Plath showed literary promise at a young age. Plath published her first poem, “Poem,” in the Boston Herald when she was just nine years old. More poetry publications followed, and an IQ test Plath took at the age of 12 determined that she was a “certified genius” with a score of 160.
But Plath’s early life was marred by tragedy, too. When she was eight years old, her father Otto died from diabetes. Plath had a complicated relationship with her strict father which she later explored in her poem “Daddy,” writing: “I have always been scared of you, / With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygook.”
And as Plath grew up, her literary gifts and inner darkness seemed to play dueling roles. While attending Smith College, Plath won a prestigious “guest editorship” at Mademoiselle magazine. She moved to New York City for the summer of 1953, but described her experience working and living in the city as “pain, parties, work” according to The Guardian.
Indeed, Plath’s inner struggles had begun to intensify. The New York Times reports that Plath had a mental breakdown following a rejection from a Harvard writing program, which the Poetry Foundation writes led the poet to attempt suicide at the age of 20 in August 1953. She then received electroshock therapy as treatment.
“It is as if my life were magically run by two electric currents: joyous positive and despairing negative—whichever is running at the moment dominates my life, floods it,” Plath later wrote, according to the Poetry Foundation.
Yet despite her struggles, Plath continued to excel. She won a Fulbright scholarship and moved to London to study at Cambridge University. And, there, Plath met her future husband, Ted Hughes, at a party in February 1956.
During their intense initial encounter, Plath bit Hughes’ cheek, drawing blood. Hughes later wrote of “the swelling ring-moat of tooth marks/That was to brand my face for the next month/The me beneath it for good.”
“It is as if he is the perfect male counterpart to my own self,” Plath wrote, according to History Extra. To her mother, she added that Hughes was: “the only man I’ve met yet here who’d be strong enough to be equal with — such is life,” according to the Washington Post.
But though they married after just four months and had two children together, Frieda and Nicholas, Plath and Hughes’s relationship swiftly soured.
By the time Sylvia Plath died in February 1963, her marriage to Ted Hughes had crumbled. He had left Plath for his mistress, leaving her to care for their two young children during one of the coldest winters in London since 1740.
But Hughes’ betrayal was just one of many of Plath’s problems. Not only was she dealing with relentless flu, but multiple American publishers had sent rejections for Plath’s novel, The Bell Jar, which was a fictionalized account of her time in New York and subsequent mental breakdown.
“To be quite honest with you, we didn’t feel that you had managed to use your materials successfully in a novelistic way,” an editor from Alfred A. Knopf wrote, according to The New York Times.
Another wrote: “With [the protagonist’s] breakdown, however, the story for us ceases to be a novel and becomes more a case history.”
Plath’s friends could tell something was off. As Plath’s friend and fellow writer Jillian Becker wrote for BBC, Plath was “feeling low.” Visiting Jillian and her husband, Gerry, on the weekend before she died, Plath expressed her bitterness, jealousy, and anger about her husband’s affair.
When Gerry drove Plath and her children home on Sunday night, she started to cry. Gerry Becker pulled over and tried to comfort her, even insisting that she and the children return to their home, but Plath refused.
“No, this is nonsense, take no notice,” Plath said, per Becker’s book Giving Up: The Last Days of Sylvia Plath. “I have to get home.”
The next morning, Feb. 11, 1963, Plath got up at around seven a.m. and tended to her children. She left them milk, bread, and butter so that they’d have something to eat when they woke up, put extra blankets in their room, and carefully taped the edges of their door.
Then, Plath went into the kitchen, turned on the gas, and lay down on the floor. Carbon monoxide filled the room. Before long, Sylvia Plath had died. She was only 30 years old.
Her family, ashamed of her suicide, reported that she’d died of “virus pneumonia.”
Ted Hughes later wrote of hearing the news of Plath’s death: “Then a voice like a selected weapon/ Or a measured injection,/ Coolly delivered its four words/ Deep into my ear: ‘Your wife is dead.’”
But though Sylvia Plath died on that frosty February morning in London, her literary legacy had just begun to bloom.
While the Bell Jar had been published in the United Kingdom under a pseudonym shortly before her death, it would not be published in the United States until 1971. And during the darkest days of her depression, Plath had produced a number of poems that would make up her posthumous collection, Ariel, which published in 1965.
Plath was also awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize in 1982. Today, she is considered one of the greatest female American poets of the 20th century.
Her legacy has not been without controversy, however. After Sylvia Plath’s death, her husband assumed control of her estate. According to History Extra, he later admitted to destroying parts of her journal. And Plath’s history of depression was apparently inherited by her son Nicholas, who died by suicide at the age of 47 in 2009.
Today, Sylvia Plath is remembered in two ways. Certainly, she’s remembered for her prolific creative output, which resulted in such works as The Bell Jarand Ariel. But Sylvia Plath’s death informs her legacy as well. Her despair, suicide, and bitter poems from that era are part of her larger legacy. The writer A. Alvarez wrote that Plath made poetry and death “inseparable.”
As the poet herself wrote in her poem “Lady Lazarus”:
“Dying/ Is an art, like everything else/ I do it exceptionally well/ I do it so it feels like hell.”
If you are struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide or self harm, I urge you to visit the Hope in the Darkness page where you can find free resources to get the help you need to climb out of your darkness. Visit WeirdDarkness.com/hope – that’s WeirdDarkness.com/hope.
STORY: THE VOYNICH MANUSCRIPT=====
The Voynich Manuscript is a mysterious manual from the 15th century in Central Europe. It contains text in an unknown language and bright illustrations of women, plants, and astronomy. The first known owner of the manuscript is Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II of Bohemia (r. 1576-1612). Since 1969, Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book Library has possessed the artifact, from which researchers across the world continue to study its puzzling content.
Of the original 272 original calfskin vellum pages, about 240 still exist. In total, the book consists of 14 or 15 whole calfskins. Although the cover is goatskin, it is not original. A number of its sheets are foldouts, making this a very unusual book from this time period. Its dimensions are seven inches by ten inches.
Radiocarbon dating of the vellum indicates an origin from 1404-1438. Most experts agree that it is European in origin, but they cannot agree on the specific region. There are no other examples of the language contained within the text and the author is still a mystery.
According to the Beineke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, there are six sections in the manuscript.
• Plants and flowers including 113 unknown species
• Astrology and Astronomy: astral charts, pictures, zodiac signs (Sagittarius, Pisces, Taurus), and females coming out of chimneys or pipes
• A biology section containing women in the nude with swollen midsections standing in baths of some fluid or connected to strange tubes
• Folded pages containing cosmological medallions that possibly depict geographical forms
• One hundred different medicinal herbs and roots
• Pages of text (possibly also recipes) with illustrations of stars or flowers denoting each entry
After the Holy Roman Emperor, the next owner of the manuscript was Jacobus Horcicky de Tepenec. He was Emperor Rudolf’s Imperial Distiller, doctor, and director of his botanical gardens. Tepenec penned his signature onto the first page of the text sometime after 1608. By 1637 the book lay in the hands of an alchemist by the name of Georges Barschius. When Barschius died in 1662 the book found its way to the Jesuit Roman College or Collegio Romano where it probably remained for the next 200 years.
The manuscript takes the name of the American rare book dealer, Wilfrid M. Voynich, who purchased the mysterious text in a bundle of other books from the Jesuit college in 1912. After he died in 1930 the book stayed with Voynich’s wife, who left it to their secretary, Anne Nill. Anne sold it to a famous book dealer for $24,500, who, in turn, donated it to the Yale Beinecke Library in 1969, where it remains today.
Illustrations in the Voynich Manuscript are as mysterious as the language of the text. Many of them are botanical. However, modern science has not documented some of the plants depicted in the book. Other drawings are related to astronomy and women’s health. Although the pictures appear to contain captions, they, too, are indecipherable.
Illustrations and text make up the body of the book. The author used black, red, yellow, green, and blue ink. Two-hundred-twelve pages display pictures and text. Thirty-three pages contain only text.
No one has been able to translate the Voynich Manuscript. Experts disagree as to whether it is a language or a cipher, a secret code designed to hide meanings. There seem to be patterns within an alphabetic system, possibly containing between 19 and 28 characters. However, because the text is unique and indecipherable, some scholars believe that the author or authors may have created a hidden code, which was not uncommon amongst secret societies of the time.
Despite the lack of a title, most experts suggest that the Voynich Manuscript is a scientific textbook of botany, biology, astronomy, and medicine, according to the illustrations and layout of the manual.
Amongst the earliest evidence of the Voynich Manuscript is a letter addressed to Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II that mentioned Roger Bacon as its author. Unfortunately, whoever wrote the letter was only guessing at the author of the manuscript. Roger Bacon was a scholar and a Franciscan friar. There is no concrete evidence that Roger Bacon was responsible.
Because the text appears indecipherable, some people believe the book may be a hoax. The idea is that someone wanted to pawn it off as a curiosity to Emperor Rudolph, who paid 600 gold ducats for the curious manual.
“It is very likely that Emperor Rudolph acquired the manuscript from the English astrologer John Dee (1527-1608) whose foliation remains in the upper right corner of each leaf” (Shailor). John Dee possessed a number of manuscripts that Roger Bacon wrote, and Dee’s son commented that his father had spent much time on a book that contained nothing but “Hieroglyphicks [sic],” while he was in Bohemia. This may suggest that John Dee did not write the manual himself. However, where Dee may have acquired the book is uncertain.
A woman named Edith Sherwood put forth another theory. Edith has theorized that young Leonardo DaVinci wrote and illustrated the manual. While this is an intriguing theory, there is no evidence of this.
Although there are few answers about the Voynich Manuscript, research is ongoing. Some top experts have dedicated much time to attempt to decipher the code. Of course, there have been those who have claimed to have succeeded. However, all such claims are unsubstantiated. For now, we will have to leave the answers up to our imaginations and hope that it does not turn out to be a cookbook full of terrible recipes.
When Weird Darkness returns, there’s a beast living in the woodlands outside of Rhinelander, Wisconsin – and its description is beyond belief. I’ll introduce you to the hodag!
STORY: MEET THE HODAG=====
Introducing the Hodag. Reports of the hodag were passed around by word of mouth among logging camp communities in the upper Midwestern United States in the 19th century; however, some sources have also noted that subject may be related in some way to the water-dwelling spirit known in Ojibwe as Mishipeshu (in English, the Great Lynx), implying a much longer history. (Though this relation remains speculation only.)
The earliest known reference to the hodag in print occurred in 1870 in Kent County, Michigan. Some reports also note that subject may have once been found in the states of Maine and Minnesota, although whether or not it still resides there has not been determined. Regardless, it is perhaps best known for its reported 1893 appearance in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, the forest around which subject still calls home today.
The hodag appears to be a creature composed of a variety of features that would normally be seen on other animals — although precisely what that composition might be varies by report.
According to the primary report of its 1893 appearance, the hodag possesses “the head of a frog, the grinning face of a giant elephant, thick short legs set off by huge claws, the back of a dinosaur, and a long tail with spears at the end.” Other reports, meanwhile, have described it as featuring “a knobbledy head” with “a pair of prominent, bulging eyes and two heavy lateral horns” that resemble those of “a male stag-beetle,” “stout and powerful” claws, a tail with “a terminal hook,” and “a row of jagged, stegosaurian dorsal spines.” Still other reports describe a strikingly “mottled, striped, and checked” hairless body, with “a large spade-shaped bony growth” on its nose and “peculiar phalanges, extending up in front of the eye, so that he can see only straight up.”
Similar to the hodag’s basic appearance, its size and measurements have been described variously. It may measure anywhere from the size of a large dog to precisely seven feet long and 30 inches high.
All reports, however, agree on one key point: the hodag is “distressingly ugly” and unsettling to behold.
It also apparently to knows this about itself, however, and it finds this fact upsetting. It would be a kindness not to point it out to it, should ever encounter it in the wild.
The hodag has no modus operandi other than simply to live. However, it is worth noting that it may be considered dangerous to humans if encountered, and extremely dangerous if antagonized.
It inhabits forested regions; from the late 19th century onward, it has primarily lived in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, although as previously noted, it may have once resided in Maine and/or Minnesota.
The primary diet of a hodag is said to consist of mud turtles, water snakes, muskrats, and porcupines, although it may occasionally enjoy a white bulldog as a Sunday treat. According to one report it “[does] not disdain human flesh,” suggesting that while it does not regularly target humans for dietary purposes, it will not turn its (possibly horned) nose up at such a meal, should one present itself.
However, potential meals should have ample opportunity to escape, so long as they pay attention to their surroundings — or, more accurately, to the aroma of their surroundings. The hodag reportedly carries with it a scent of buzzard meat and skunk spray, the pungent combination of which may be detected from some distance away. Those in the vicinity may consider this scent an early warning system; upon detection, it is recommended that you run. Fast.
The hodag’s manner of birth is said to be somewhat unusual: It is believed to rise from the ashes of cremated lumber oxen. These oxen, having been subject during their lives to a great deal of abuse and strong language from loggers and lumberjacks, are believed to require cremation as a purification method; however, in purifying an ox after death, the way is paved for the birth of a hodag, which — large, horned, and bad-tempered — may be viewed functionally as the embodiment of all the unpleasantness built up within the ox’s soul as a result of its poor treatment.
It should be noted that this aspect of the hodag’s nature is not its own fault. Nor is it the fault of the ox from which it sprang. The fault lies solely with the humans who perpetrated the mistreatment of the ox in the first place.
Should one laugh at or otherwise mock the creature, it will immediately become aggressive towards whomever or whatever might be doing the laughing. These unwise beings will almost certainly not survive the attack. It is not recommended that one laugh at or mock a hodag in its presence.
As previously noted, the hodag is aware of how unpleasant it is to look at. As such, it is not uncommon for the beat to weep loudly for extended periods of time. Should one find oneself within the presence of a hodag while it is engaged in a weeping episode, one may find oneself having to lend a comforting ear to the inconsolable creature until it has cried itself out.
Depending on one’s perspective, an encounter with a weeping hodag may be a worse fate than an encounter with an angry subject.
Proceed at your own risk.
The creature is known to be susceptible to three containment methods. Chloroform will subdue it, after which it may be captured and contained in much the same way one might capture and contain any other wild creature; in truly desperate situations, dynamite will destroy it; and, lastly, lemons will eliminate subject instantly. Yeah… lemons.
But if you tread carefully and refrain from antagonizing subject, it should not be necessary to employ any of these containment methods. Live and let live, and all that.
The most notable report of a hodag appeared in a column published in an October 1893 edition of the local Rhinelander newspaper Near North. In this column, one Eugene Simeon Shepard recounted what he claimed to have been an encounter with the creature which ultimately ended with him and a small group of other Rhinelander locals blowing up the creature with dynamite.
Three years later, Shepard published a second piece about the beast, this time claiming that he had managed to capture one alive using chloroform. He then put the subject on display, first at the 1896 Oneida County Fair and later in a shed on the grounds of his own home. A photograph dramatizing Shepard’s capture of subject circulated as a popular postcard for some time; staged in 1899, it featured Shepard himself on the far right of the image, brandishing a stick, and his own child, Layton Shepard, posing as if being attacked by subject. I’ll link to the photo in the show notes if you’d like to see it.
Shepard later admitted that both of his reports and his subsequent display were hoaxes though; he had spun the newspaper columns out from stories he had originally recounted within the logging camp communities in which he had once lived. The “specimen” he had displayed in 1896 was a sculpture he had created along with woodcarver Luke Kearney, with a body made of wood covered in ox hide and decked out with cattle horns arranged along the sculpture’s spine. Shepard had also rigged the sculpture with wires so that it could be puppeted, faking movement; furthermore, his sons hid out of sight, providing growls and other noises for the fabricated creature.
Despite Shepard’s admission, the hodag has since been embraced as a sort of regional mascot. Rhinelander still prides itself on being the Home of the Hodag; in addition to lending its name to everything from the local high school’s sports teams and athletic facility to the annual Hodag Country Music Festival and a Hodag Run For Your Life run/walk event.
A large fiberglass sculpture of a hodag resides on the grounds of the Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce, while two others — one of which blows smoke and lights up — occupy the Rhinelander Ice Arena.
A great deal of hodag merchandise is available, for those who wish to bring a little bit of hodag magic home with them.
Just because one example of the hodag proved to be a fabrication though doesn’t mean that all examples of it are a fabrication.
Should you see one in the wild— Or, more likely, should you smell one— Leave it be. Otherwise… I hope you brought some lemons with you.
Thanks for listening! If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find information on any of the sponsors you heard about during the show, find all of my social media, listen to audiobooks I’ve narrated, sign up for the email newsletter, find other podcasts that I host including “Church of the Undead”, visit the store for Weird Darkness merchandise, and more. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or dark thoughts. Also on the website, if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
All stories on Weird Darkness are purported to be true unless stated otherwise, and you can find links to the stories or the authors in the show notes.
“The Lake Michigan Paranormal Triangle” by Megan Summers for Graveyard Shift
“The Tragic Death of Sylvia Plath” by Kaleena Fraga for All That’s Interesting
“The Voynich Manuscript” by Shelly Barclay for Historic Mysteries
“Meet the Hodag” from The Ghost In My Machine
“The Shelton Disappearance” by Crystal Dawn for Lost N’ Found Blogs
“The Intimidating and Terrifying Men in Black” by Austin Harvey for All That’s Interesting
WeirdDarkness® is a registered trademark. Copyright, Weird Darkness.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… Joshua 24:15 = “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
And a final thought… “Persistent people begin their success where others end in failure.” -Edward Eggleston
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.