PORTER, Ind. (WANE) — As Hoosiers prepare for the spookiest month of the year, ghost tales begin to spread around the campfire and one Indiana-specific ghost tale is “Diana of the Dunes.”
“Diana of the Dunes” did not start as a ghost tale, as it is based around a real woman named Alice Mabel Gray. According to the National Parks Service, Gray hiked and lived in the dunes in a small shack for over 9 years in the early 1900s. The reason she chose to live in the dunes was her interest in the history, ecology and preservation of the Indiana Dunes.
According to the Historical Society of Ogden Dunes, Gray was born in Chicago in 1881. She went to the University of Chicago where she studied mathematics, and her professors at the time encouraged her to further her studies in Germany after graduation. After living in Chicago and traveling the world, Gray decided she no longer wanted to live in the city, so she sought out a place where she could live off the land.
After living at the dunes, many area newspapers created a persona for the woman who chose to live off the land. Her relationship with the public eye shifted over her time in the dunes, as instead of being admired for her life she became viewed as a thief and a murderer after they found a body near her home. She became involved with Paul Wilson, who was not positively seen by the public, and her reputation drastically changed.
After her death in 1925, she was buried in her family plot but this is where the ghost story begins. It is said by visitors to the dunes that they would see a woman who would bathe in the water and then run through the sand to dry off. Gray became “Diana of the Dunes”, a spectral presence at the Indiana Dunes.
Today “Diana” is recognized through Diana’s Dare, a hiking challenge created by the National Parks Service. In the challenge you hike in Gray’s footsteps, falling in love with the landscape in the 0.8 mile hike.
So while you may travel to the Indiana Dunes for scenery and beach fun, make sure to also watch out for “Diana of the Dunes.”