Illinois is a must-visit state for those who love to go ghost hunting. The astounding number of haunted sites, ghostly sightings and cemeteries that come alive at night should satisfy those who have a thirst for the paranormal!
Check out these 13 most haunted places in Illinois. Don’t forget to bring your flashlight and a good ghost hunting camera!
1. The Devil’s Bake Oven in Grand Tower, IL
The Devil’s Bake Oven and the adjacent Devil’s Backbone form two of the most famous paranormal sightings in Illinois.
Beside the Mississipi River lie an infamous rocky ridge that has claimed many lives. Legend has it that one girl named Esmeralda jumped off the ridge when she got news that her lover was murdered. Visitors and ghost hunters claim to have heard otherworldy moans, screams and sometimes a mist that has the shape of a young woman appear!
2. Robinson Woods in Chicago, IL
There’s a reason why so many horror movies love to film in the woods at night- they’re just so terrifying! Shadows lurk from every corner and you get assaulted by the sound of the living (and some, not so living). Robinson Woods is one such example. This forest has been recognized as one of the spookiest sites in an of Illinois, for good reason. One, it has been said that the entire forest grounds is cursed!
A man named Mr Robinson acquired the deed to the forest after some negotiating with three Native American tribes living in the region. Soon after, Mr Robinson kept having the worst of luck- his house was burned down one night by unexplained reasons, and the deed to the land was lost. But that was just the beginning.
Soon after the fire, local police reported that 3 people were strangled and dumped into a ditch. Local residents and visitors soon claimed they heard moans, weird smells and lights that kept appearing and disappearing without a trace. Others stated they heard the banging of tom tom drums in the dead of night. This haunting is plausible because there are areas in Robinson Woods that were used as burial sites for the natives who once lived there.
3. Showmen’s Rest in Forest Park, IL
One of the more macabre tales to come out of Chicago, Showmen’s Rest actually has a curious tale that led to the haunting of the place.
Back in the early 1900s, when circuses were popular, this part of Woodlawn Cemetery was the site of an accident involving a passenger train and a circus train. It was said that the conductor of the passenger train fell asleep at the wheel, which led to his train colliding with a circus train, killing more than a hundred poor souls and animals. The dead were buried in the site in a mass grave, which then earned its name Showmen’s Rest. Some of the gravestones featured circus names such as “4 Horse Driver”, “Unidentified” and “Baldy”, among others.
Currently, Showmen’s Rest is still being used to bury dead circus performers. Ghost hunters who are looking for a productive night can camp out here and experience an sorts of paranormal activity, from shadows to crying and even the sound of trumpeting elephants during midnight!
4. Choate Mental Health Center in Anna, IL
This otherworldy asylum was first christened as The Southern Illinois Hospital For The Insane when it was built in 1875. Shortly after operation, the mental institution was wracked by devastating fires that brought many deaths among residents and hospital staff alike.
Reports started coming in, claiming that there were scary apparitions appearing on the windows during night time There’s also a haunted tunnel underneath the mental health center where a hospital employee once felt the tremendous presence of a ghostly spirit right beside him!
5. Ridge Cemetery in Tower Hill, IL
Ridge Cemetery is a popular site for ghost hunters as it features eerie lights, haunting apparitions and an old man who disappears out of thin air Some visitors recently claim that they heard horse neighing and groups of people during the night.
The site was once a favorite gathering place of a local cult. Furthermore, legend says that a 3-year old girl who was seen walking to the cemetery went missing and was never found again. The mother of the child told the bewildered police that her daughter told her that the people underneath the ground wanted the child to stay there, permanently.
6. Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery in Chicago, IL
Chasers of paranormal activity might overlook the small, abandoned cemetery located just right at the outskirts of Chicago. But the visit will be well worth it once you start experiencing ghostly attacks and hear gruesome stories surrounding the place!
The headstones in Bachelor’s Grove date back to the 18th century, although the records show that the cemetery itself wasn’t officially consecrated as a burial ground until 40 years later. Papers show that the cemetery was once used as a site for performing Satanic rituals, which only added fuel to the supernatural fire.
In the dead of night visitors can see floating lights of orb around the place, flitting between ancient gravestones. There were also mentions about a spirit of a boy and a white lady haunting the place. Some individuals said they heard the boy asking them about a coin he lost. In 2006, a famous seance conducted a spiritual investigation; he fell into a deep trance, then started wading through a nearby pond and bent down to collect an item. It was a Walking Liberty coin that dated back to 1942 The silver coin was then left at the gravestones and disappeared. Since then, the hauntings stopped but only for a moment.
The white lady, called the Bachelor Grove Madonna, can be seen walking among the tombstones and seemingly searching for something at the thick woods surrounding the haunted cemetery. Even more strange is the fact that a whole haunted house appears from time to time This ghostly manor has appeared in photos, while for some the house vanishes into thin air when they go for a closer look.
7. Hotel Baker in St. Charles, IL
Hotel Baker was once a charming, quaint hotel that was built in 1926. It’s actually listed in the National Register of Historic Places, but has an added reputation of being one of the most scariest in and of Illinois.
A man named Colonel Baker built a hotel on top of an old mill and added then-modern amenities such as parking garages, a radio station, a hydroelectric plant and a rose garden. The idea was that the Colonel wanted to build a huge hotel for visitors to relax and enjoy their stay in.
Currently, the old hotel structure is pretty much intact and an the original furnishings are still in place. There were also regular ghost sightings on and off the property. One famous story stated that a former chambermaid drowned herself at the Fox River when she was left alone in the altar by her lover The maid’s living quarters? A room in the 6th floor, which is now part of a penthouse suite.
Visitors have experienced forceful tugging of their bedsheets and hearing eerie voices and screaming during the night.
8. The Congress Plaza Hotel in Chicago, IL
Once dubbed as “The Landmark of Hospitality” in the Chicago area is now a popular haunt for paranormal activity!
The Congress Hotel was built during the turn of the 19th century. Today, it’s one of the richest ghost sites, with poltergeists, apparitions and things that go bump in the night. Visitors often tell tales of hearing strange noises coming from the hotel ballroom and finding the whole place empty when they enter it Appliances were said to turn on and off on their own accord, with people sometimes stating that the appliance wasn’t even plugged in!
Perhaps the most amazing ghost story was that visitors claimed they saw the ghost of the hotel’s former owner, AI Capone, in the hallways and suites! But that doesn’t end there. A mysterious gloved hand is said to appear right on the walls of the hotel rooms and pass through them when being chased. It was dubbed the “Hand of Mystery”, and legend says that it belonged to a former handyman who got trapped into the drywall during construction. Visitors also claim to see the ghost of a hobo, who was named Peg Leg Johnny walking around the hotel grounds at night.
9. The Acid Bridge in Collinsville, IL
This stretch of road is unassuming, even colorful by day, but it’s one of the scariest plac. to be in when night comes around. The bridge actually has had seven railroad passages passing right through it during various time periods. These passages became known as “Hell Gates”, and legend says that if one were to pass through an the seven bridges during midnight, they’ll see a portal heading straight to hell! Moreover, each gate was supposedly guarded by vicious, otherworldly dogs who prey on the unsuspecting living.
Legend says that Acid Bridge was once a car accident scene when teenagers, who were tripped up on acid, drove to the bridge and flipped their car at high speed up and over the rats and onto the shallow creek below. All the teens were instantly killed upon impact. Individuals who crossed the bridge stated they felt uneasy, cold and somewhat terrified, while others reported strange noises coming from their vehicles.
10. The Cave-In Rock in Hardin, IL
Located around the banks beside the Ohio River, Cave-In Rock is an old cave that was once used as a meeting place for illegal activities. Legend says that the large, spacious cave often housed vicious pirates and con men who went into hiding in the 17th century. There were also manuscripts that claimed pirates used it to lure unassuming individuals before robbing and killing them.
One of the most notable individuals who used the Cave In Rock for nefarious purposes were the Harps Brothers, who were set to be executed but somehow escaped. They killed whoever set on the cave, no matter how young or old. Stories also told of a Mason Gang who used the spot to hide their ill-gotten gold. Visitors can get to the sight at night and hear moans and screams emanating from inside the cave.
11. The Old Slave House in Equality, IL
The Old Slave House, or otherwise known as Crenshaw House is registered under the National Parks Service due to the owner, John Crenshaw, using the home as a waystation during times of slavery.
A look at the exterior of the house reveals a normal house But on the inside you’ll be horrified at the rows of torture chambers, prison cells and equipment that were used to cause unimaginable pain. Legends say that both slaves and house helpers were tortured or killed right inside that home. Today, visitors often report hearing pained screams and moans of agony coming from nowhere. Like an ghost sites, there are anomalies residing in the property, including cold spots, shadowy shapes and flickering lights.
12. Moon Point Cemetery in Streator, IL
Moon Point Cemetery started out as a family cemetery for an individual named Jacob Moon. Then, the civil war happened and the graveyard got nocturnally active because of its dead inhabitants.
Stories told how a woman roams the cemetery at night, searching and crying for her dear son who died in the Civil War. When she died, the woman was buried in the same cemetery and took up a corporeal form with a hatchet as a weapon. Visitors can hear the Hatchet Lady in the dead of night shouting at them to “Get Out!”
Legends also say that a young boy appears sometimes with red and white flickering orbs while roaming the cemetery grounds. You can still visit the cemetery, though it’s been closed to the public at night due to rampant vandalism and grave robbing.
13. Saint Omer Cemetery in Ashmore, IL
Legends say that there’s a grave holding a witch in it.
A witch named Caroline Barnes was found by the townspeople guilty of practising witchcraft and faced the gallows for it. Before she died, Caroline cursed the village people and said she would come back to haunt them all and get revenge.
The townspeople put a gravestone and inscribed that the witch died on a non-existent date of February 31, 1882 You can still see the gravestone today, which is a huge ball resting atop a stack of logs.
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