Manistee, MI

Scare Yourself Silly Aboard the Ghost Ship in Manistee

Tracy Stengel

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A frightening Ghost Ship clown in 2018.Photo via the Ghost Ship Facebook page.

As October approaches, haunted houses come alive complete with ghosts and goblins and things that go bump in the night. But Manistee, Michigan knows how to up the scare factor a notch. Picture a monstrous, floating steamship atop the storied waters of Lake Michigan eerily awaiting to give you a frighteningly good time. That’s what is in store for thrill seekers as preparations are being made to transform the historical SS City of Milwaukee into a Ghost Ship.

The retired 360-foot-long steam ship will welcome those daring enough to board her and explore her 5 decks of spooky twists and turns. Will you be prepared for what around the next corner? Ready yourself for spine-tingling surprises from wraiths and skeletons cackling and howling from the depths of her hull. As you make your way through the labyrinth up and down steep stairs, ducking under low headways, you'll try to anticipate what’s waiting for you ahead. Your heart will thud against your chest as tingles run up and down your spine!

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The author is terrified.Photo courtesy of the author.

The Ghost Ship opens Friday, October 8 and will be open Friday and Saturday nights through the end of October from 7:30 PM — 10:30 PM. It takes 20–45 minutes to make it through the macabre maze. The Ghost Ship is recommended for adults capable of climbing stairs and children 7 and up. The fee is $10 per person, but if you are gutsy enough to go through it a second time in the same night, it is only $5. The last two weekends, a Fast Pass will be available where you can skip the line.

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The Ghost Ship 2019.Photo via the Ghost Ship Facebook page.

The Ghost Ship is a fundraiser presented by the Society for the Preservation of the SS City of Milwaukee which was built in 1930 in Manitowoc, Wisconsin by the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company. The car ferry set sail in 1931 to replace the SS Milwaukee which sank October 22, 1929, in a fierce northeaster gale while going from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Grand Haven, Michigan. Sadly, 46 lives were lost in 125-feet deep water.

The SS City of Milwaukee retired in 1981. Today, she is the last traditional railroad car ferry on the Great Lakes. She remains afloat at 99 Arthur Street in Manistee. Owned by the Society for the Preservation of the SS City of Milwaukee, she is a National Historic Landmark Museum, a seasonal bed and breakfast, and is available to rent for weddings, parties, and corporate events. And in October … she becomes the stuff of nightmares!

If you’ve bravely boarded the Ghost Ship, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!

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Tracy explores the world with a positive eye, an open heart, and a sprinkling of humor. Without laughter, she would be lost.

Onsted, MI
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