Five of the most haunted Illinois towns and tours

Alton: The city is actually considered the one of the most haunted towns in America according to Meeting of the Great Rivers. Alton is located on the banks of the Mississippi River and visitors including hunters have seen orbs of light in various places throughout the town. Through the years, many travelers have investigated and inquired about the unexplained happenings and psychic phenomena found throughout Alton.  Several locations that are noted to be extremely haunted, including the infamous McPike Mansion, The First Unitarian Church, and Milton School, have been featured on television shows on the Travel Channel and Syfy Channel. Alton tours is offered by Alton Haunting and tickets are on sale.

Naperville: Naperville has been known as one of the best cities in the US to live but according to Mysterious Heartland, one of the most haunted. A massive train wreck took place in 1946 where two passenger trains collided. Forty seven people were killed and one hundred and twenty five were injured. Many still ghosts or shadows walking on Loomis Street. Buildings at North Central College are also haunted as well as ghosts sited at the Naperville cemetary. Check out Naperville ghost Charlie Yellow Boots who walk the streets and the historic streets are supposedly EMF active.  Naperville Ghosts provides an interesting tour with Kevin Frantz who has also written two books about the Naperville Ghosts and actual encounters.

Galena: Ghost stories have been circulating since 1880 and according to Visit Galena, were actually written in local newspapers back then. The Lady in Black is said to haunt the DeSoto House in downtown Galena and one guest actually has a photograph of her. There has been many natural disasters in the valley but a great deal of historic preservation in Galena which tends to bring on the spirits according to many. Embe Eatery and Lounge has witnessed flying objects and the library at Ryan Mansion is something very strange for those looking for ghosts. Amelia Ghost Tours offer a great evening along with dinner theatre tickets available. Matthews Haunted Pub Crawl leads those to three historic pubs to visit ghosts located in downtown Galena. Ghost equipment is used on both tours.

Decatur: There are many stories of hauntings in Decatur, but few that have received as much attention in the general public at the time of their appearances as the “black ghost,” which there are reports of as far back as 1880 according to the Herald Review. Just south of the main highway in Decatur is the Greenwood Cemetary where people have a young woman crying on a set of stairs and orbs of light. Or visit Avon Theatre which has also been known to have spooky encounters. During the 1920’s, Decatur was known for bootlegging, gambling, prostitution, murder bringing violence which many felt contributed to spiritual drama.  Like Alton Tours, the same company runs the tours called Haunted Decatur.

St Charles: Hotel Baker is a hot spot for ghosts since sources claim that a chamber maid killed herself in the Fox River though there are no records of the suicide. Created in 1928, Hotel Baker was an elegant hotel that included the Rainbow Room, a two-story ballroom encircled by columns that featured a dancing floor and famous entertainers such as Louis Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey, Guy Lombardo and Lawrence Welk. Since the hotel has been restored, it continues to be a choice of luxury. And the Arcadia Theatre in downtown St Charles is another haunted building where the lights go on and off. The Dunham-Hunt Museum is supposedly by Jane Dunham who is believed to have lost some of her personal items while the house operated as a museum. St Charles Ghost Tours is the place to contact for an amazing history.

Chicago’s Most Haunted: The Congress Hotel / H.H. Holmes Murder Castle

What’s great about the Congress Hotel, one of the most haunted in Chicago, is you can go there, rent a room and stay the night.  Rates for rooms are not outrageous and you can spend as much time as you want to catch pictures of ghosts. They actually host a Haunted Halloween Ball at the Congress at 520 Michigan Avenue.

Originally constructed in 1893, the Congress Plaza Hotel featured cobbled streets, gaslights, and horse drawn carriages. The hotel was originally called the Auditorium Annex when it opened to house the throngs of visitors to the World’s Colombian Exposition.

Many famous people and presidents have stayed at the Congress which include Grover Cleveland, Teddy Roosevelt, and Franklin Roosevelt. And the most visible ghosts include Peg Leg Johnny who was murdered, a workman who was buried behind the walls in the balcony of the glorious Gold Room. The Gold Room and Florentine Room are still beautiful spots for special occasion parties and weddings.

The six floor has been known to have some strange experiences as well as the 12th floor where a mother and her children committed suicide throwing themselves out a window. Staff have claimed that one room is so dangerously haunted…they had to seal the room and no one will go near it.  Supposedly, one of the most haunted rooms of all is 441 and remember, it is not locked forever….you can stay there.

Another bizarre story at the Congress is that of the ghost, Dr. Henry H. Holmes who wanders the hallways looking for woman to to enrapture in his arms and murder at his Murder Castle. His real name was Herman Mudgett, Chicago’s first serial murderer, who went to work in a drugstore owned by Dr. E.S. Holton, in Englewood, a suburb of Chicago that is now part of the city.

And it was here Holmes would draw in young woman and visitors from the Fair. Missing woman were reported and some have said that Holmes had killed 27 women and other reports include even more even though there is no conclusive evidence of how many he killed. In July 1895, Chicago police and reporters began investigating Holmes’ building in Englewood, now locally referred to as “The Castle”. Though many sensational claims were made, no evidence was found which could have convicted Holmes in Chicago.

According to Exploring Illinois, Holmes, who graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School, had already racked up a fairly impressive resume of fraud, forgery and petty theft by this time, including, while still a med student, taking out insurance policies on cadavers he stole from the school. Holmes, though, was a hard worker at the drugstore and eventually bought it.

Holmes purchased an empty lot across from the drugstore, where construction began in 1887 for a two story mixed-use building, with apartments on the second floor and retail spaces, including a new drugstore,on the first. When Holmes declined to pay the architects or the steel company, Aetna Iron and Steel, they sued in 1888.[5]

In October 1895, Holmes was put on trial for the murder of Benjamin Pitezel, and was found guilty and sentenced to death. By then, it was evident that Holmes had also murdered the Pitezel children according to a Philadephia detective who found the children and had followed Holmes.

What was the murder castle like? According to Prairie Ghosts, the second floor however, proved to be a labyrinth of narrow, winding passages with doors that opened to brick walls, hidden stairways, concealed doors, blind hallways, secret panels, hidden passages and a clandestine vault that was only a big enough for a person to stand in. The room was alleged to be a homemade “gas chamber”, equipped with a chute that would carry a body directly into the basement. The basement was a chamber of death with devises and materials that indicated torture and murder.

The murder castle is no longer there and a post office remains in its original location but the story is well-documented in Erik Larsen’s, Devil in the White City and Leonardo Di Caprio plays Holmes in the movie. However, staff at the post office have seen strange sightings in the basement.