Waugoshance Lightship 
Located in Lake Michigan

Lighthouses and lightships have been around for
probably as long as man has sailed the oceans to warn
sailors of their closeness to shores and shoals as
well as ports of call.  In the 19th century before
electricity and automation candles and large mirrors
(called a Fresnel Lens) at night, to announce ports
during clear weather, and bells during foggy weather,
as well as jagged rocks.

Such was the case of Captain James Davenport who, for
a whopping wage of $400 and seven months after being
hired to man the lightship called Waugoshance
Lightship located in Lake Michigan, the Chicago fire
broke out.  There are two stories of what happened
during the fire and no one, to this day, is sure which
is true or just exactly what happened.

The first tale states that smoke from the Chicago
fire, blown in by severe winds, caused a dense fog
over Lake Michigan.  Now the differences in the
stories are in Captain Davenport's actions during this
time. The first story says that he sat in a rocking
chair for three days and three nights ringing the
bell.  He kept himself awake by holding pots and pans
in his lap--every time he would doze off, the pots and
pans would clatter to the ground waking him.

The other account is that while this dense fog was
over Lake Michigan a schooner ran aground on the
Waugoshance Reef and the crew swam ashore.  For three
long and tiresome weeks they ate beans as Captain
Davenport played his violin with the sounds of Lake
Michigan for background.

One fact remains, thanks to the valiant efforts of
Captain Davenport, only seven ships ran aground during
the whole ordeal.  To this day no one is sure whether
it was three days or three weeks or even if it was the
violin or the pots and pans and the bell that saved
the ships.  Although, sometimes if you listen closely,
you might hear the faint music of a lone violin mixed
in with the sound of the waves on a foggy night or the
faint sound of pots, pans and a lone bell to the
backdrop of the lapping of the waves on the sides of
the lightship.

Yet there is one other story of the Waugoshance
Lightship .... After Captain Davenport retired in 1885
one other lightship keeper was hired.  His name is
John Herman.  At  this time, the information on Mr.
Herman's exact start date or the date of his early
demise is not known.  The only known fact is that his
employment as Waugoshance Lightship keeper was cut
short.  It seems that one night Mr. Herman stumbled
out of the lightship in a drunken stooper and fell off
of the short pier and drowned.  His ghost is said to
wander the the lightship, Waugoshance, on Lake

by catcrazylady@yahoo.com

Back to Famous Hauntings

Back to Ghosts and Hauntings