Diana of the Dunes: A Lake Michigan Ghost Story With A Basis in Reality

By | April 9, 2019

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Actress Angie Dickinson swimming outdoors in 1961, perhaps channeling her inner Diana of the Dunes. Source: (photo by Pierluigi/Mandadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

In the early 1900s, a Lake Michigan fisherman spotted a naked woman swimming in the waters off the dunes of northern Indiana. Other people in the area also reported seeing a naked woman, sometimes swimming in the Great Lake and other times, running nude along the beach. It turned out that she was a Chicago woman living the reclusive life of a hermit in a shack on the beach. Her life would be fascinating enough, but many area residents believe that she still roams the beach long after her death as a ghostly figure known as Diana of the Dunes. 

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Reports of a sea nymph in Lake Michigan in 1915. Source: (themarinefoundation.org)

A Sea Nymph in Lake Michigan?

Reports of the pretty, young, naked woman along the dunes of southern Lake Michigan began to circulate through the tiny lakefront towns of the area, including Chesterton, Miller, and Ogden Dunes. Naturally, the local residents were curious about the sightings of the woman they nicknamed Diana of the Dunes, after the mythical goddess. What they found when they investigated the reports was a 34-year-old Chicago-area woman who chose to leave city life in favor of the simple hermit life on the shores of Lake Michigan.