The Legend of Bloody Run Creek at the Ghost Town of Peacock
The Michigan ghost town of Peacock lies in Lake County, 40 miles northeast of Ludington. It’s been said that it was no more than a lumber camp with a postal service, named after the first postmaster, David J. Peacock, in 1897. But it also had a cemetery that was for African-Americans only. No whites were allowed.
New Yorker Alice Kelly came here in the 1890’s, built a hotel and livery stable. She felt bad for the local African-Americans who were poor, so she organized the all-black cemetery for them. Years and years later, the Caucasian restriction was lifted to let whites in, much to the joy of Peacock residents who didn’t want to be buried far from their homes. This cemetery is hidden within the woods about a half mile east of town. If you actually find it, you may see homemade gravestones with names and dates either hand-written on the stones or etched in by rocks or a sharp tool.
Peacock is also known for its infamous tale of the Legend of Bloody Run.
It was a cold winter’s day in 1887 when a logging train was preparing to leave with a massive amount of timber with a dozen lumberjacks along for the ride, sitting atop the logs. The conductor gave a signal to start but the engineer refused, saying it was too dangerous. There was a stream at the bottom of a downhill grade where he feared the train would end up, thanks to the tracks being slippery from the ice and snow.
An argument followed, resulting in the engineer jumping off the train, further refusing to commandeer the train. The conductor took it upon himself to get in the cab and run the train. It went up the grade and began the descent downhill. Sure enough, the extremely heavy load of logs, mixed with the slippery rails, were too much for the brakes. The train gained more and more speed and began lurching, bumping, and derailing, and nose-dived into the creek. All the logging cars followed, crash upon crash, with all sorts of metal, train pieces, timber, and mangled bodies of the lumberjacks, all meshing together in one huge, bloody pile. From that day on, the creek has been known as Bloody Run (I believe it's officially known as the Little Manistee River).
The accident was never filed in an official report, so was it all made up or swept under the rug to avoid lawsuits?
A visit to Peacock and its surrounding areas just might be the unusual Michigan roadtrip stop you’ve been looking for.