The Legend of Morrow Road

Written by Francis J. Sampier, 2009

We visited Morrow Road for the first time way back in 2005. It’s a lonely road in Algonac, Michigan surrounded by woods with very few houses at the time. We hung out by the side of the road, hoping to see something ghostly appear, but nothing did. We just looked like idiots hanging out on the side of the road, especially when cars would slow down and ask us “if we were ok?” “Oh yes, we are just investigating this legend and ghost story.” We’d get a raised eyebrow and the car would drive off. 

Also around 2005, Francis J. Sampier began researching the legend in the hopes of creating a movie based on the tale and has shared his research below.  – Michigan’s Otherside

The Legend of Morrow Road, one of Michigan’s oldest legends, spans back to the late 1800s and is primarily about a ghost that haunts the road to this day, looking for her lost child. Morrow Road is a southeast Michigan rural road that until recently was entirely a dirt road. The 2.5-mile road’s southern portion rests in Clay Township (on the outskirts of Algonac) and northern portion rests in Cottrellville Township (on the outskirts of Marine City). The road is a straightaway and has very few citizens living on it. Recently, more citizens have moved into its southern half. The road began as a cow path in the 19th century and later became a narrow dirt road, which was eventually widened.

Early artwork for the movie project. 

The road also has two creeks that run under it. One on its north end and one near its center-point, just south of where the only other fully intersecting road is. Hence, there used to be two small, simple-railed bridges. Both of these were torn down and converted into culverts. As with most back roads, Morrow Road started out with no electricity running to it and had one two-story house. 

In the late 1800s, a woman supposedly with the initials “I.C.” apparently died searching for her little son.  Many believe that her death was so tragic, that her spirit remains haunting the road to this day, still searching for an eternal answer of what happened to her boy.

What makes the legend more interesting and startling is the different beliefs of what exactly happened to the mother & child.   Nearly every version of the legend has these common denominators:  A middle-aged woman died in her nightgown searching for her child, and that her spirit remains as a vengeful ghost to this day–still searching for the young boy.

Here is a list of different versions told. See if you’ve heard any of these variations below.

  • Many believe the boy was kidnapped and that the mother searched in desperation, and died searching.
  • Some believed the boy drowned when the mother took her eyes off him for a moment.  This version is more rare, where she apparently did find the boy face down in a nearby creek.  In despair, the mother hung herself.
  • Some believe that the two-story house they lived in was burglarized and they were murdered.
  • Some believe that when the mother last saw the child not too far away from a fire…and then he was never seen again.  The mother searched for the boy around the fire, fearing for the worse.  Never finding the child’s remains, she died searching for the boy.
  • Others believe in an entirely opposite death:  That they both froze to death.  The boy wandered out of the home, the mother unaware.  When the mother realized he was gone, she searched frantically for the boy during an unprecedented winter storm and froze to death in her unsuccessful search.
  • Still, others believe in this simple theory:  That the boy was murdered, which led to the mother to search for him near the bridge they lived by.  The murderer (motive unknown, possibly rape) waited for the woman to search by the bridge and abducted and murdered her.
  • Earlier versions of the legend actually didn’t involve a mother.  This radically different (and unpopular today) theory involved a monster that ate babies and children!  It was called “The Morrow Road Monster” by locals and was a popular theory in the 1950s.  There is no evidence to support this theory.
  • Contrasting, another popular story involved local Native Americans.  Some believe that local Natives savagely attacked the mother while she was searching for her missing child.  Some believe she haunts the road to this day because a nearby Indian burial ground may have been near the death site of the mother.  There is no evidence to support this theory either, but local Native peoples of the time included Algonquin, Huron, and Erie.
  • Finally, one of the most popular theories was that the mother had the child out of wedlock.  Simply not wanting the baby, she went to the bridge and left the boy under the bridge, abandoning him.  Feeling shame and remorse on her way back home, she decided she couldn’t go through with it and upon arriving back at the bridge, the baby was gone.  This was the beginning of her years of searching until she finally gave up.  Upon her early death, many believed she was cursed for her actions and her eternal punishment was to haunt the road searching for the lost child.

A startling fact is how many people claim to have seen the woman, heard the child or witnessed other paranormal occurrences on or near the road.  These include many witnesses to seeing the ghostly woman herself, always wearing a light blue nightgown (believed by many to be the outfit she wore on her death) searching with bloody hands for the child.  Many claimed she has morbidly asked or screamed “Where’s my baby?” as drivers drove past.  Others claim she has slammed her mysteriously bloody hands on their car window in addition.

Many believe that if you honk your car horn three times on the bridge you will hear the baby cry.

Also, many claim to have vehicle trouble when driving down the road. There are more eyewitness claims to seeing “orbs” on the road and in the woods than any of the above.  Many other people also state the orbs went as far as to chase their vehicle.  Most claim the orbs were light green, but some say they’ve seen them red, purple and light blue, all in small, varying sizes.
Naturally, local police have had many “false claims,” that turned out to be young adults playing pranks. All accounts claim to have been seen or heard only at nighttime. Channel 4 Local News with Carmen Harlan did a news report near the turn of the millennium on the legend, and the TV Show “Unsolved Mysteries,” watered down the legend to be a filler between the episode’s two major stories.

Paranormal research has been done many times, always with interesting results.  The legend has been all over the Internet and an independent feature film based entirely on the legend is in the works.  For more information on the film and legend, visit www.morrowroad.com.

A few story notes:

*A legend by definition is something that cannot be proved or disproved.  (facts can be proved, myths can be disproved.  This can be disproved by the fact that there were no reported deaths of babies from the area at that time.
**The Indian burial ground portion can be disproved by the fact that there has never been an Indian burial ground near the area.  However, it is conceivable that Natives were traveling through the area and a crime or ritual could have occurred.

Idiot Disclaimer – If you are checking this location out, you are on a public road and if you wander off the road, probably private property. Don’t be an obstruction on the road or a trespasser.  And even though the legend says honking could bring about the ghost, it most likely won’t so be mindful of those who may live on the road, especially at night. Don’t be an idiot.