The Detroit River… Buried History & The Emergence Of The Gates

The Re-Surfacing of Ancient Myth & Lore

The Detroit River… Buried History & The Emergence Of The Gates | The Re-Surfacing of Ancient Myth & Lore

What if the Detroit River and the surrounding sacred landscapes were more unusual than previously believed, or we could have ever imagined?

What if there were Native American legends describing this precise region as a  “Gateway” or portal to the afterlife?

Could local legends also reveal the existence of an ancient, and otherworldly Gatekeeper? What if the “Realm of the Gatekeeper” had an exact location? A location described as a Prophetic Portal?

What if the ancient and sacred landscapes described in the legends and historical accounts had been buried, covered up and even built over by ancient star forts and the 1889 International Worlds Fair?

Is it possible that similar gateway, portal and otherworldly symbolism may be resurfacing in the form of art and architecture hidden in plain sight?

Could the symbol of the star or pentagram be destined for the streets of Detroit?

Can particular areas in Detroit function as “Consciousness Portals”, catalyst connecting us to the past, present and future?

Treading through our ancient past we will attempt to unbury this lost and possibly hidden knowledge which appears to be re-surfacing in the forms of art, architecture and even cultural events!

The Detroit River
(Legends & Lore)

The Detroit River flows southwesterly acting as both a straight and international border between the United States and Canada. This majestic body of water flows for approximately 28 miles and connects the northern Great Lakes including Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, and Lake Huron with Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

The first inhabitants of this area along the river were the Native Americans. At one time ancient villages and sacred mound sites dotted the landscape on both sides of the waterway. This land along the river was considered sacred for several reasons. One reason was naturally in regards to agriculture, but another was a little more unusual. This area was also considered to be a “Gateway” between realms! There are several legends as well as historical accounts that describe this otherworldly scenario.

Chief Sleeping Bear & The Keeper of the Gates

Ottawa mythology says that long ago, Chief Sleeping Bear had a daughter who was so beautiful that he kept her hidden in a covered boat, tied up on the banks of what is now called the Detroit River.

The chief hid his daughter to keep her from being ogled by mortal men, who he thought would be unable to handle seeing her beauty. One day as the chief was bringing her food, the wind spirits caught a glimpse through the flaps of the covered boat, and were so taken by her beauty that they decided to whip up a storm in order to blow the cover off of her boat and get a better view. They blew so hard however that it broke free of its mooring and went adrift down the river.

The keeper of the water gates saw the drifting boat and rescued her. He was so enthralled by her beauty that he took her to his lodge. But the winds saw this and became angry, and they buffeted him so fiercely that he was killed. The wind spirits guided the girl back to her father, Chief Sleeping Bear. They begged him not to hide her anymore, but instead place her on an island in the river where she would be safe from mortal men, but the spirits would be able to gaze upon her beauty. The chief agreed to this.

He placed her on what is now Belle Isle, and beseeched Gitchee Manitou to guard the isle with many snakes so that men would not come there. The girl lived there and was happy that she now had a beautiful place to run free instead of being hidden. In fact even the snakes of the island were charmed by the girl’s beauty and worshipped her. Gitchee Manitou was impressed by this, and made the girl immortal, to rule and dwell upon this isle forever. Later, when the white man came, he initially named this island “Rattlesnake Island.” Her spirit is referred to as the “Snake Goddess,” and is said to inhabit Belle Isle still, as an apparition of the forest.

Anyway, the girl’s would-be lover, the dead water-gate keeper, was placed nearby on what was later known as Ile aux Pêche, or “Peach Island”). His spirit lived in solitude on this smaller island, and it is said that braves went to this island for meditation and to seek wisdom from his spirit before going to battle. His voice sounded like the wind in the trees and could only be understood by those who had fasted and observed proper meditation.

The local Native Americans were very familiar and respectful of the realm of the Gatekeeper. In 1762, Chief Pontiac visited Peche Island after a foreboding that came in the form of an unusual weather occurrence. The unusual weather resulted in what has been called “Detroit’s Dark Day”. On Oct 19, 1762 a darkness filled the sky and shortly thereafter black rain fell to the ground. This extremely rare weather phenomenon scared early settlers and it is argued that the Native American Chief Pontiac saw it as a sign to start a war. Following this sign Pontiac chose to visit Peche Island to seek counsel from the Prophet of the Keeper of the Gates!

While the Water Gatekeeper may have occupied a consciousness portal, the Gateway to the after-life was located just down river! Dwarfing all other burial mounds in the vicinity was the massive Great Mound of the River Rouge, located in what is now Detroit’s Delray neighborhood. It was estimated that it originally measured 200 feet wide by 300 feet long–covering more than an acre–and standing forty feet tall, but it may have much larger at one point. The significance of the Great Mound was it was considered a portal to the after-life. Thousand of bodies found their final resting place within this mound. Every so many years this scared mound would be the location for the Huron Feast of the Dead!

The Huron Feast of the Dead was a mortuary custom of the Wyandot people ,which involved the disinterment of deceased relatives from their initial individual graves followed by their reburial in a final communal grave. A time for both mourning and celebration, the custom became spiritually and culturally significant. This location became known around the region to many tribes as a gateway between realms, life and death , the past, present and future!

View from Belle Isle towards Peche Island, Realm of the Gatekeeper

Detroit Star Forts

The first mention of the Native American sacred landscapes along the river come from French missionaries in the 1600’s. These missionaries claimed to have found a large stone idol on Belle Isle venerated by the locals. The missionaries destroyed the guardian idol with axes and threw it into the river. This would be the beginning and a foreseeing of the destruction to the ancient land to come.

French Explorer Antoine Cadillac

In 1701 French explorer Antoine Cadillac and his crew entered the straights of the river looking for the “perfect” location to bring into fruition the new city of Detroit. The perfect location was a piece of real estate situated along the river banks in the heart of the Native American Landscape.

Cadillac and his men moved ashore creating their first permanent structure, Fort Ponchartrain, also known as Fort Detroit. Fort Detroit would take on the shape of a star also known as a star fort. This would be one of the first of many times that the symbol of the star would be stamped upon the landscape along the Detroit River.

Mysterious Star Forts (Stellar Symbols of a Forgotten Past)

The British would eventually take over Fort Detroit. The British commanders felt that several hundred yards to the north on higher ground would make a more suitable location for a new fort. Like the French before the the British built a new Star shaped fort in the heart of Detroit, Fort Shelby.

In 1796 the British abandoned the fort and moved operations to the opposite side of the river. Keeping with the theme another Star fort was constructed called Fort Maldene. According to our timeline this would be the third star fort built on this ancient and sacred landscape.

Fort Maldene (Star Fort to Mental Asylum}

Following the forts decommission, from the years from 1859 to 1875, the fort would be renovated into an insane asylum! Fort Malden was one of many examples where prior ordnance lands were repurposed by order of the province to become asylums, hospitals, or prisons as these prior forts already possessed many fortified buildings and defenses suited for institutional facilities.

The fourth, and final stellar star fort would be erected by the Americans at the junction of the River Rouge and Detroit River. This was also the location of the Great Mound and other earthen structures! Fort Wayne was built directly over a Native American ancient sacred landscape.

The precise land that the star fort would be built upon was both an ancient burial site as well as a ceremonial site. During excavations Native American bones were actually discovered in the earthen walls used to create the fort. All that was to remain of the past was one small mound on the outskirts of the fort, and the remnants of what was left of the Great Mound.

The Building of the Fort Wayne star fort wouldn’t be the first or the last time history would literally be buried.

Detroit International Exposition 1889!

All that remained of Detroit’s ancient past were a few remnants of what had once been known as the “Great Mound”. In the late 1800’s much of the mound was plundered for relics and used for building materials.

Sand from the ancient structure was being sold for 2.5 cents per barrel to be used as building materials for the newly forming town. It was estimated that over 1300 ancient skeletons were discovered and dumped into the river during this desecration process. It was rumored that many of the skeletons were of abnormal size and some having perforated (trephined) skulls!

The very last remnants disappeared alongside the 1889 Detroit International Exposition. Exposition attendees were encouraged to dig in the mound for souvenirs of a forgotten past for 25 cents. what remained was used to coat the pathways of the exposition in hopes of keeping the dust to a minimum.

At the same time history was being buried a new future narrative was being presented. In 1889 the Detroit International Exposition would kick off. Why was the exposition built neighboring a star fort and atop an ancient burial ground?

Howdie Mickoski points out in his book, Expeditions Exposed, “In the majority of instances ancient fairs were established in connection with religious festivals, and hence were established in some place of worship, or on some sacred spot.”

This appears to be the precise scenario that has taken place in Detroit. A modern exposition utilized the real estate held sacred for thousands of years by the local Native Americans.

The story goes that in the spring of 1889, a small army of laborers moved in to drain the marshes and clear the “farm land”. Contractors soon followed laying down the train tracks, building docks, ponds and landscaping in preparation for some of the largest buildings the world had ever seen. From the time they began “clearing the swamp”, to the point of grand opening took only 5 months according to official records!? The complete transformation of the area in just 5 months almost seems inconceivable! It prompted one fairgoer, a frenchman from Ecorse, to exclaim, “My God, look a dat! I shoot duck in a marsh here last spring!”

The main exhibit building, and several others sprang from the drawings of local architect Louis Kamper. The main building had a frontage of nearly 500ft, a 20 story main tower, four corner towers, five acres of glass, and boasted 200,000 square feet of exhibition space. The towers were a resounding hit! This would be the first opportunity ordinary folks would be able to gain the “Birds Eye View” perspective of their surroundings. From the tops of the towers experiencers would have been able to see for vast distances. Looking northernly would have been the magnificent site of the Fort Wayne Star Fort with Belle Isle in the distance. Southernly would have been looking over the very last remnants of the “Great Mound” with the backdrop of the majestic Detroit River and the many ships.

There were many unusual, ground breaking and sometimes disturbing exhibits and events taking place during the exposition…… The following details are from the book, Detroitland by Richard Bak.

Professor J.C. Chambers invited fairgoers drop in at the Electric Sanitarium and Institute for a free treatment! The professor, whose advertisements cited no credentials beyond noting that he had, “spent one-quarter a century reliving suffering humanity”, employed a patented apparatus “whereby the Galvanic, Magnetic, and Electric induced currents are quickly infused all through the system.” This, he exclaimed, enabled him to cure such varied and chronic cases as “brain exhaustion”, kidney troubles, memory loss, headaches, impotence, and back pain amongst other ailments!

A crowd favorite was Professor C. Bartholomew. The crowd arched their necks as the seemingly suicidal balloonist and parachutist performed trapeze tricks while ascending into the overcast sky in his hot-air balloon. When he reached an altitude of 9,000 feet, he climbed out of the basket and jumped into the clouds. The professor missed the exposition grounds completely but landed without mishap on the outskirts of Windsor. “I have looked down upon a great many city,” he said upon his return, “But I have never seen a prettier city than Detroit. To fully appreciate its beauty one must look at it from an elevation that will enable him to see it all at one time.”

The ascension of the great balloons was a major draw, as you can see from an actual photograph taken at Detroit’s fair in 1889

Detroit’s Big show ended with a big bang when a battery of cannon punctuated a martial tune that final afternoon. The ground-shaking explosions caused people in the main buildings to come tumbling out the doors. Most thought the roof or a tower had given way. Thats one way to go out with a bang!

The International Exposition would continue annually for a couple more years before permanently shutting down and demolishing the fair grounds. When all was said and done the monumental architecture was gone, as were the last remnants of the “Great Mound”. Over the years this land would become industrialized and polluted leaving only memories of a strange and ancient past.

The Re-Surfacing of the Gates

In one aspect the destruction of the “Great Mound” was a symbolic closing of the “Gateway” to the after-life. Although this symbolic gateway may have been previously closed, others may have attempted to open throughout Detroit’s time line. Is it possible that gateway and portal symbolism could have re-surfaced in the streets of Detroit in the forms and shapes of art and architecture?

It appears as the symbol of the 5 pointed star, and or the pentagram have been destined for the streets of Detroit. The same time the star forts were being built the modern city layout was being designed. Thomas Jefferson sent his disciple Augustus Woodward to town following the “great fire” of 1805, Woodward was chosen as a committee of one to lay out the new Detroit. 

It has been said that Augustus Woodward hoped to live up to the new Detroit motto, “We hope for better things, It shall rise again from the ashes.”  The Detroit motto appears to be an obvious “Phoenix” reference proposing a rebirth for the city of Detroit. Woodward being an acquaintance of Charles L’Enfant, D.C. city planner, utilized the same symbolism as was incorporated in the capital. Most noticeable were the pentagram and freemason scale.

The symbol of the pentagram and pentagon would emerge once again in 2003 in the form of a new building built as Compuware Headquarters. In the heart of Augustus Woodward’s pentagram street layout is located Campus Martius (Mars). Here re-surfaced the same pentagon symbolic in the form of a new building. In the Heart of the new pentagon building was built a pentagonal glass pyramid as a skylight that illuminates a hanging sculpture of a Rainbow Bridge below! And by the way……. That pentagonal glass pyramid in Campus Martius (Mars) is identical to images of a pentagonal pyramid on Mars!?

The explosion of the star/pentagram wasn’t the only shape or symbol pointing towards a possible re-surfacing of the ancient gates. On the banks of the Detroit River, and connected to Campus Mars via a 3 block corridor, an otherworldly park would emerge!

Hart Plaza and the Gateway to Orion

Viewing the blue print and aerial images of Hart Plaza what you recognize is that several pieces of architecture in Hart Plaza are aligned and correlated possibly to the Giza Pyramids and Sphinx! Symbolically Hart Plaza’s amphitheater, fountain and pyramid align precisely with the ancient Egyptian pyramids. The path (causeway) leading from the pyramid of Khafre to the Sphinx in Egypt is also very similar to Detroit’s Dodge Fountain and the path leading to the Egyptian styled obelisk (Pylon). Pylons mark the entrances to Egyptian temples!

Regarding the layout of the Giza plateau, a relatively well known theory is Robert Buval’s Orion Correlation Theory. He believes, and has rather successfully demonstrated, that the three main pyramids at Giza may have been aligned with the belt stars of the constellation of Orion. This leads to the question: Could Detroit’s (Hart Plaza) be aligned with both the Giza pyramids and the stars creating a symbolic Gateway to Orion? And if so, why?

In 2001 Detroit held it’s tricentennial celebrations and began a new restoration of the riverfront, it would be known as the “Gateway Vision”!

As part of the Gateway Vision there was a contest to see what kind of sculpture would fit in with Hart Plaza’s Orion Gateway. The winner was a local artist named David Barr, he created the TRANSCENDING Gateway to grace the entrance to the plaza.

The Horus and Son fountain occupying the heart of Hart Plaza also received a new plaque pointing out that Hart Plaza is a Gateway to a great city.

The Tricentennial “Gateway Vision” wouldn’t be complete without a new sculpture to occupy the riverfront in the rear of Hart Plaza. The Gateway To Freedom, a memorial to the Underground Railroad.

Was the ancient Gateway symbolism destined for this modern sacred landscape? Has the veil always been thinner along the banks of the Detroit River? Star Forts, Pentagrams, Portals and Gateways? The same time the re-emergence of the gates was taking place within the Campus Mars / Hart Plaza corridor, a similar scenario was taking place on the sacred Belle Isle (realm of the snake goddess and the Gate Keeper)!

*** For more specific details in regards to Hart Plaza, Campus Mars, and the artists and architects that brought them into fruition, please visit previous article:


Belle Isle… Arches,Obelisks & a Re-Surfacing of the Ancient Past

Belle Isle and neighboring Peche’ Isle were once home to the ancient legends of the Gate Keeper and Chief Sleeping Bear’s daughter’s spirit referred to as the Snake Goddess. Although she was immortalized in some legends as a white doe she was called the Snake Goddess due to the rattlesnakes that were said to surround her and the island as a form of protection put in place by Chief Sleeping Bear. Over the years these legends would be somewhat forgotten as the building of a modern day culture would begin to “rise from the ashes”. The question is…. could any of the ancient legends, archetypes or possibly symbols re-surface in the future in the forms of art and architecture??

When it comes to architecture there were a few commonalities in regards to the buildings and monuments that would spring up on the island for decades. The two symbolic representations you seem to see the most of on the island are the arch and the obelisk. Many, if not all of the buildings, are littered with arches surrounding windows, doors and entranceways. The other symbol of the obelisk can be found on light poles, bridges and take on the shape of carillon towers and light houses in some cases.

Granted some will point out that this is just an architectural style, And it is! But, could there be more to it than meets the eye? What if the conjunction of arches and obelisks could create a symbolic gateway? It is believed by many esoteric architects from the ancient past, as well as the present, that these two symbols create a balance. The symbol of the arch is that of the divine feminine, and the obelisk representative of male energies. This balancing of the male and female is also believed to be a catalyst for a symbolic gateway.

One wonderful example of this exact scenario can be found in St. Louis at The Gateway Arch. What many are unaware of is that Eero Saarinen purposely incorporated this symbolic into one of the largest monuments in America. He has pointed out that he designed the Arch to represent symbolically both the male and female energies. He accomplished this by designing an arch that appeared as an obelisk from the sides. He literally incorporated the symbols of the arch and obelisk to create an enormous Gateway!!

Gateway Arch | Washington Obelisk

Back to Belle Isle…. lets take a pictorial journey around the island to see what has emerged over the years. We will start by crossing the Belle Isle bridge.

To the untrained eye the Douglas Macarthur Bridge may just appear like another cool bridge. When you look a little closer what you notice is the bridge starts with and ends with obelisks. Between these obelisks are many arches.

Two staples of the island are the aquarium and the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservancy. The conservancy, which contains beautiful arched glass features and doors, was designed by D. Mason and Alber Kahn and was said to have been modeled after the Crystal Palace. The Crystal Palace was a cast iron and plate glass structure originally built in Hyde Park, London to house the Great Exhibition of 1851.

Crystal Palace, London

Albert Kahn also would have a hand in designing the neighboring aquarium which was the first of its kind in the U.S.. The exterior was done in a Beaux architectural style while the interior has green tiled arches and dome throughout.

Belle Isle Aquarium

The remainder of the structures on the island are very similar in regards to being full of arches, but due to space we’ll move on to a couple obelisk like structure that were built alongside the arches.

The Nancy Brown Peace Carillon was one of several monuments where tower structure could symbolically be compared to an obelisk. The Nancy Brown Peace Carillon is octagonal in cross-sectional shape, 98 feet (30 m) in height, and located near the band shell on Belle Isle.

On the northernly tip of the island another symbolic obelisk emerged in the form of a light house. Designed by famed Detroit architect, Albert Kahn, the Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse has illuminated the way for passing ships for decades. This is the only marble light house in America. Albert Kahn pointed out he had the concept of an obelisk in mind when he created this art deco piece that would illuminate the shores.

In conjunction with the arches and obelisks emerged a new fountain that seemed very reminiscent of ancient time, you could even say it has somewhat of an Atlantean feel. The Scott Memorial Fountain is considered the “jewel” of Belle Isle and was designed by Case Gilbert.

Although we are just scratching the surface, the question becomes could this building and reoccurring symbolism over the years be pointing towards something to come? Could this sacred landscape along, and on the Detroit River be destined to be a Gateway or even a portal? Could the re-surfacing of ancient symbolism arise in art and architecture?

As mention previously the symbols of the arches and obelisks many times are a catalyst for a symbolic gateway. This appears to have happened once again on the northerly tip of Belle Isle in front of the marble light house. Just recently a brand new “Gateway” sculpture emerged called ONE WORLD…. UNDER MICHIGAN STARS (Southern Gateway of the Iron Belle Trail). The new monument was created by Detroit artists and brothers Erik and Israel Nordin and the Detroit Design Center.

From the plaque… “The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Gateway welcomes the world to explore the beauty of Michigan on the Iron Belle Trail. The trail runs between the Northern Gateway in Ironwood and the Southern Gateway on Belle Isle here in Detroit. 2,000 miles of outdoors that can be explored by every one. The sculpture is inspired by topographical views and skylines of the two cities. Turned vertically and facing one another, the abstract shapes create a trail in the sky between them. The hand cast blue glass symbolizes the water that is so precious.”

We recently looked at all the star and pentagram symbolism that seemed destined for Detroit and now a new Gateway has emerged called One Word Under Michigan Stars! Strange.. we just looked at the burying of history under Michigan Stars. This same Gateway is literally overlooking the realm of the ancient Gate Keeper!

Concluding the same way we began…….

What if the Detroit River and the surrounding sacred landscapes were more unusual than previously believed, or we could have ever imagined?

What if there were Native American legends describing this precise region as a “Gateway” or portal to the afterlife?

Could local legends also reveal the existence of an ancient, and otherworldly Gatekeeper? What if the “Realm of the Gatekeeper” had an exact location? A location described as a Prophetic Portal?

What if the ancient and sacred landscapes described in the legends and historical accounts had been buried, covered up and even built over by ancient star forts and the 1889 International Worlds Fair?

Is it possible that similar gateway, portal and otherworldly symbolism may be resurfacing in the forms of art and architecture hidden in plain sight?

Could the symbol of the star or pentagram be destined for the streets of Detroit?

Can particular areas in Detroit function as “Consciousness Portals”, catalyst connecting us to the past, present and future?

Only time will tell!!!!

For more details in regards to the art, architecture, and artists responsible for Hart Plaza and Capus Mars please visit the previous article STARGATE DETROIT.