“Won't come back from Dead Man’s Curve” sang Jan & Dean in 1964.

Unlike that famous California boulevard, the 'Dead Man's Curve' found in the Irish Hills has nothing to do with drag racing or vehicle accidents. That sharp curve on US12 that twists around Allen Lake has a whole other meaning.

According to Lenconnect.com, during November 1923, as road excavators were working to improve that road, they accidentally dug up skeletons wrapped in deteriorated blankets and Indian relics (tomahawk, arrow heads, beads, kettle, hammer, pipe, and others) just two feet below the surface. Although the white man didn't seem to be aware of this burial ground, the local Native Americans deemed it a coveted area.

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The workers notified the proper authorities about their discoveries. A Kalamazoo contractor, J.H. Lowe, was quoted as saying at the time, “under the terms of a treaty made by the United States government with the Indians such remains will not be molested but the graves will be protected and given suitable care.”

There were a total of nine remains which were taken to a nearby home. Once the locals heard about the bones and found out where they were stored, they went through the remains and basically picked everything clean for souvenirs. The only thing that was left was one skull.

On Sunday May, 24, 1925, around 500 residents attended the final memorial at Walker Tavern. Evidently, some people brought their skeleton souvenirs back for the memorial. Before burying them beneath an oak tree under a cairn on the tavern property, “the bones were placed in a beautiful rosewood coffin of antique design, and lay in state in the parlor of the brick tavern with lighted candles at the foot, head and back.”

It was later determined that the Native American remains were originally buried between 1760 and 1810. Thus, that swervy curve where they were found at Allen Lake is now known as “Dead Man's Curve”.

Dead Man's Curve: Irish Hills


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