Michigan is Home to an Abandoned Town Most People Don’t Know About

Michigan, a state renowned for its natural beauty, cultural diversity, and historical significance, harbors intriguing secrets within its borders. Among these hidden gems is the ghost town of Pere Cheney, a former lumber settlement erased by disease and fire in the late 1800s. Today, it stands as a haunting reminder of a bygone era, beckoning those with a taste for mystery and adventure.

The Rise and Fall of Pere Cheney

Established in 1873 by lumber baron George Cheney, Pere Cheney thrived in Crawford County, near the Au Sable River, boasting a population exceeding 1,500 residents. The town flourished with amenities like a railroad station, post office, school, hotel, sawmill, and various businesses catering to the lumber industry.

However, Pere Cheney’s prosperity was short-lived. In 1893, a devastating diphtheria outbreak claimed the lives of hundreds, especially children. The town never fully recovered, with theories attributing the tragedy to a local witch’s curse or issues like poor sanitation and overcrowding.

A catastrophic fire in 1899 further ravaged Pere Cheney, reducing most structures to ashes. By 1912, the town was officially abandoned, leaving behind a desolate and eerie landscape.

The Haunting of Pere Cheney

Pere Cheney morphed into a local legend, captivating the imagination of both locals and paranormal enthusiasts. Tales and rumors circulated about the cemetery where diphtheria victims were laid to rest. Apparitions, including a woman in a white dress believed to be the town’s cursed witch, and eerie sounds of children playing in the graveyard fueled the town’s supernatural reputation.

Visitors reported feelings of dread and unwelcome, attributing them to a lingering curse. Some spoke of moving and twisting trees in the cemetery, seemingly alive and angry. Persistent rumors even spoke of a pack of wild dogs guarding the town, attacking intruders.

The Visit to Pere Cheney

For those daring to visit Pere Cheney, preparation is essential. Situated approximately 10 miles south of Grayling, the town is accessible via a hard-to-find and poorly maintained dirt road, surrounded by dense forest. Navigating with GPS or a printed map is crucial.

Upon arrival, remnants of the town’s former glory, like foundations and chimneys, dot the landscape. The fenced-off cemetery, marked by a sign, contains around 90 graves, most unmarked or illegible. Pere Cheney’s grave, adorned with his name and a Masonic symbol, is a notable exception.

If you choose to enter the cemetery, caution is paramount. Respecting the graves, refraining from taking objects, and maintaining silence is advised. The shadowy surroundings may hide unforeseen dangers, and it’s best to leave before dark, when the town is believed to be most haunted.


Pere Cheney stands as one of Michigan’s most captivating ghost towns, where history, mystery, and tragedy converge. It offers a unique and unforgettable experience for the curious and courageous, revealing a hidden and haunted chapter of Michigan’s past. Those interested in exploring Pere Cheney should undertake thorough research, meticulous preparation, and adherence to rules. Remember, in this ghostly realm, you are not alone.

Leave a Comment