The Hellhounds of Meridean

Location:  Caryville, Dunn County, Wisconsin


  • Some web sites erroneously refer to Meridean as 'Meridian' or 'Maridean.'

  • The island is on the Chippewa River, not the 'Meridian' River as some sites claim.

The Reputed History:  
  • The  ghost of a young girl named "Mary Dean" haunts the island and boat landing where she had committed suicide.
  • Shortly after the death of Mary Dean, three ferries mysteriously disappeared in that area, resulting in the ferry crossing being closed down.
  • Several teens have drowned while swimming at the boat landing.  Their deaths have been ruled as suicides.
  • At one time there was a sanitarium on the island run by a doctor who owned several dogs.  These dogs haunt the area as "hellhounds," in other  words, as black phantom dogs with red glowing eyes.
  • Another story is that the dogs viciously killed their owner's child.
  • About 50 years ago, two youths who were parked in their pickup truck at the boat landing were killed by some type of beast.  Their bodies were never recovered.  The authorities later found their empty truck which was splattered with blood mingled with hairs from some unknown type of creature.
The Investigation:  

During the lumbering days, there was a town named Meridean on the island.  What is today used as a boat landing was at one time a ferry crossing where people traversed the Chippewa River to the island.

Historians have uncovered a number of stories about how Meridean got its name.  All of them make reference to a girl named "Mary Dean."  The favored story is that a Mrs. Dean and her charming, young daughter Mary were traveling on the Chippewa River by steamboat.  Mary won the hearts of many of the passengers during the journey.  She suddenly became ill and was taken ashore.  She died and was buried under a tree.  The area was then named "Meridean" to commemorate her.

  • Although there was once a thriving lumber town on the island, we have been unable to confirm the historicity of a doctor alleged to have had a sanitarium and dogs.  According to local historian Dick Feeney, there never was an sanitarium on the island.
  • We have been unable to find any documentation verifying the alleged disappearances of the ferries.
  • While it is certainly possible that swimmers have drowned there, we know of no documented cases.
  • We have found no evidence to confirm the story about the deaths of two people in a pickup truck.


The Reputed Phenomena:  
  • The ghost of Mary Dean has been spotted near the boat landing.
  • After dark, some people have heard the howling and gnarling of the hellhounds, others have seen the glowing red eyes of the beasts in the woods near the boat landing, and a few have actually seen the hellhounds running down the Caryville Road.
  • Other witnesses have reported hearing movement and screams come from the nearby woods at night and seeing a dark shadowy figure dart across the road.  Could this be "Blackie," the demonic figure reported at both the Caryville schoolhouse and cemetery?

  • According to an eyewitness, on one dark night there was a bonfire and a huge chair (similar to the statue at the Lincoln Memorial, only on stilts) across the road from the boat landing.  Three pairs of glowing red eyes could also be seen in the woods nearby. 

  • The Dare:  If you park your car near the boat landing, at the bottom of the hill below the Caryville Cemetery and shut off your headlights, the hellhounds will appear.

The Investigation:  
  • Our investigative team did hear a strange animal-like sound that emanated from the island.  The sound was unidentifiable and not comparable to any known animal sounds.
  • We did interview the eyewitness who saw the huge chair and glowing red eyes.  It is possible that the "chair" was actually a deer stand as this area is very popular with hunters.
  • The Meridean boat landing and island are popular places for camping and teen parties, so it's not uncommon for there to be bonfires in this area.  This could also account for the sounds of screams.

Designed by Terry Fisk
Copyright Unexplained Research. All rights reserved.
Revised: September 28, 2004