Spring, 2005 & Fall, 2014
Paulding, Michigan is famous for the Paulding Lights! In 1966, some teenagers reported seeing mysterious lights near Paulding. Since then, a number of other folks have reported the same phenomenon, almost every night near Bond Falls. Legends arose, of course, including one that says the light comes from the swaying lantern held by the ghost of a railroad brakeman who was crushed when trying to stop a train (not too smart) from hitting some stalled rail cars on the track. Local residents claim that there were railroads that operated in the forest here as part of the logging industry over a hundred years ago, and they are now buried in the underbrush. Another legend claims it’s the ghost of an Indian dancing on the power lines.
In 2010, Syfy Channel’s Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files conducted an investigation and concluded that the Paulding Light was unexplained. However, students from Michigan Tech, Houghton, conducted their own investigation that same year, and were able to see auto headlights and tail lights when viewing the light through a telescope. The lights are refracted, and can be seen from several miles away. The students recreated the effect of the light by driving a car through a specific stretch of US45. Kind of makes you wonder just how smart those SyFy guys are.
So, pay a visit to Bond Falls Scenic Site, then stick around until night fall to see for yourself. We visited in the fall of 2014, but didn’t see any lights. Of course, we weren’t there after dark either.
Bond Falls is located on the middle branch of the Ontonagan River near Paulding, Michigan, halfway between Watersmeet and Bruce Crossing. If you are traveling from Minnesota to almost any place in the UP, you will pass nearby. It’s definitely worth a stop if you have the time, as it’s considered one of the best waterfalls in Michigan. There is an accessible boardwalk, with several viewing stations, so even my 91 year old father was able to enjoy it.
The steady flow of water over is controlled by a hydroelectric dam operated by the Upper Peninsula Power Company. The water drops in a series of cascades from about 50 feet in height, across a width of almost 100 feet. The 2,100 acre lake above the dam is prized for its fish: bluegill, muskie, northern pike and walleye, among others.
Also on the middle branch of the Ontonagan River, but with no legendary lights that I’m aware of, and about six miles downriver from Bond Falls, is Agate Falls Scenic Site, which we visited in the spring of 2005.
Agate Falls are created as the river flows over an extended shelf of terraced sandstone, resulting in a broad band of interlacing cascades and small falls that drop nearly 40 feet. They’re fairly accessible as well, with a viewing platform. You can also view the falls from an old railroad trestle that’s now part of a snowmobile trail.
Be sure to take a look at the historic Agate Falls Bridge on Michigan Hwy 28. Built in 1930, and rehabilitated in 1992, it has been designated a Michigan Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. It’s a steel deck arch bridge, one of two in the Upper Peninsula, and considered one of the most beautiful bridges designed by the Michigan State Highway Department.