Michigan Roadside Attractions: The Haunted Cemetery at Pere Cheney
Michigan Roadside Attractions on Travel the Mitten highlights our attempts to explore the many interesting things that can be found on the highways, byways and back roads of Michigan, ranging from the interesting to the unusual.
We’ve visited many interesting places on our road trips across the state, and on a recent trip north we made a stop at the Pere Cheney Cemetery. When it comes to lists of allegedly haunted places in Michigan, this location is almost always included. We’ve been inside a handful of “haunted” lighthouses over the years and had ended up at some of Michigan’s other “haunted” cemeteries but this was the first time we specifically sought a site like this out. I had seen many pictures of this cemetery during moody weather, but on the day we visited it was incredibly sunny with clear skies. The weather certainly didn’t make this place seem very spooky, and after a brief look around we left wondering what all the hype was about.
Part of the reason for the infamy of the Pere Cheney Cemetery is the history of how many of the town’s residents ended up buried here. Once a lumber town with more than a thousand residents, Pere Cheney was hit with a diphtheria outbreak, fires, then another diphtheria outbreak. In less than 20 years the town had been reduced to around 25 people and today the cemetery is all that remains.
Visitors to this cemetery have reported hearing and seeing things which has led to the legends of it being haunted. Many of the graves here (Beaver Creek Township has links to a map and list of names) belong to young children, which only adds to the sadness here. Only a handful of headstones remain and it looked like previous visitors have left behind toys and flowers.
Getting to the cemetery was a bit of an adventure. It is located south of Grayling, and we got there by taking exit 251 from northbound I-75, then following 4 Mile Rd. east for almost four miles. After that we turned right onto S. Staley Lake Rd. and followed it for two miles. A right turn on E. Railroad Trail followed by a quick left (crossing tracks) then a right on Center Plains Trail (private driveways are to left and straight) led us to the cemetery. Center Plains Trail is dirt, not very wide, and depending on recent weather probably only suited for a higher clearance vehicle. If you do visit please be respectful not to disturb any of the grave sites. This is a fascinating piece of Michigan history and we will let you decide if you think it is haunted or not!