Illinois is one state that has more than its fair share of paranormal activity and creepy attractions to visit! Whether you are looking for a portal to Hell, a ghostly gangster, or just some playful poltergeist fun Illinois certainly seems to have it all!
Let’s visit the most haunted places in Illinois!
1. Cave-in-Rock State Park, Cave-in-Rock
Cave-in-Rock can be found on the Ohio River and it is known as one of the most notorious treasure hunting spots in Southern Illinois. Between the 1790s and the 1870s, the area was rife with river pirates, highwaymen, counterfeiters, and horse thieves.
It is believed that as much as $1 million worth of stolen loot and counterfeit catch changed hands in the area between 1790 and 1830.
One of the most well-known stories is related to the Mason gang allegedly hiding a stash of gold in the cave, but Samuel Mason was captured and beheaded before he could retrieve it.
Now visitors claim to hear moans and cries echoing from inside the cave. Is this Mason searching for his loot?
2. BPL Plasma, Carbondale
The building that now houses BPL Plasma once served as the stately cement post office in Carbondale. According to employees, there are some very strange things that have been happening in the building.
It is fairly common for the doors to open and close by themselves and there is a massive chandelier in the lobby that has a tendency to swing on its own.
One employee, a night janitor, even claims that he was locked in a closet when he was the only person in the building! It is not clear exactly who is haunting the property, but there have been many reports of a female apparition wearing a long dress floating around in the lobby.
In fact, the woman has even been captured standing behind employees in a photograph taken in this part of the building!
3. Devil’s Bake-Oven, Grand Tower
The Devil’s Bake-Oven is a cave that sits along the Mississippi River and it is the home of one of Southern Illinois’ most famous, not to mention oldest legends.
The story goes, that a young lady called Esmerelda found herself head over heels in love with the captain of a riverboat. However, Esmeralda’s father did not approve of this match and they had to court in secret.
Unfortunately, one day Esmeralda received word that her beloved captain had been killed in a boiler explosion, and in her grief, she flung herself into the river and drowned.
She is believed to be the lady in white that people frequently see in and around Devil’s Bake-Oven.
There have also been reports of disembodied moans, shrieking, and sobbing.
There are the remnants of foundations close to the cave and historians have found photographs showing that there was indeed a manor house there, which gives the story some additional credibility.
4. Crenshaw House, Equality
Crenshaw House in Equality was originally known as Hickory Hill, but it is also known locally as ‘the Old Slave House’. It was used in the reverse underground railroad to capture free black people and then sell them into slavery.
Some of these slaves were kept in Illinois in order to work the salt tracts owned by John Hart Crenshaw. The attic of the house was a torture chamber where Crenshaw would shackle slaves into make-shift cells and whip them.
Rumors of ghosts in the attic began in the 1800s, but unbeknownst to locals the strange moans that they were hearing were actually from the very much alive slaves.
However, when the house reopened as a tourist attraction in the 1920s visitors started to hear strange noises all through the house, especially in the attic. It is also said that bloodstains appear and disappear on the walls.
5. Elmwood Cemetery, Centralia
Elmwood Cemetery was originally known as Centralia Cemetery up until 1921 and even though it has been in use since the 1860s, it was not officially established until 1877.
There is one popular ghost story connected to the cemetery which is characterized by the haunting strains of faint violin music! Witnesses claim to have heard the music in Elmwood Cemetery after dark and it has been attributed to a statue deep in the graveyard known to locals as ‘Violin Annie’.
The statue sits on top of a large monument that resembles a Greek temple. The statue depicts a young woman with long flowing hair, holding a violin. The statue represents Harriet Annie, the daughter of Dr. Winfield and Eoline Marshall.
She died of Diptheria in 1890 just after she turned eleven. The statue has been known to glow slightly in the night at times when violin music can be heard. Is Harriet Annie practicing her music lessons even in death?
6. Pulaski County Courthouse, Mound City
The reports of paranormal activity here have been coming in for more than three whole decades!
The courthouse was originally built in 1911 and the basement housed the county jail up until it was remodeled fairly recently. One of the earliest paranormal encounters saw students from the Lovejoy School opposite the courthouse seeing the apparition of a hanged man dangling from a tree on the courthouse’s lawn!
However, it has been many, many years since anybody was hanged in Pulaski County. This is just one of four ghosts that are supposed to haunt the property.
The hanged man is believed to be the last man hanged in the county. As well as being seen in the tree, he also haunts the basement where he likely would have been held prior to his execution.
The other ghosts include a former attorney who is accompanied by the smell of cigar smoke, a female spirit nicknamed ‘the taffeta woman’ who apparently died in an accident, and an elderly black woman.
7. Rose Hotel, Elizabethtown
At present, the hotel is owned by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency who operates it as a bed and breakfast.
The property was built around 1820 and it is currently the oldest active hotel in the entire state of Illinois. The hotel is apparently haunted by the spirit of its former owner, Sarah Rose.
Guests say that they have seen an apparition that resembles Sarah walking around the hallways on the second floor and also lingering on the staircase. She has also been blamed for moving items around during the night.
Some guests have even reported hearing a disembodied female voice in the hotel. It seems like Sarah is keen to keep an eye on the property even now that she has passed on!
8. Original Springs Hotel, Okawville
In the later part of the 19th century, Okawville was known for its mineral springs which were thought to have a positive impact on general health and wellbeing. In 1867 a local businessman decided to capitalize on the unique properties of the springs by establishing the first bathhouse and spa in the town.
It, unfortunately, burned down in 1891 and was replaced by the current building, The Original Springs Hotel in 1893. The hotel and spa have operated ever since although it has passed through a number of different owners.
One of those owners, Tim Rogers died in his room upstairs in 1962. However, it is not him the guests have reported seeing, but rather a lady in a white dress circa the early 1900s. She is regularly seen sitting on the second-floor balcony, but her face is always obscured by her hat.
On a handful of occasions, she has also been seen looking out of windows or even standing at the end of guests’ beds.
9. The Hundley House, Carbondale
The Hundley House in Carbondale is the site of an unsolved murder from 1928 when former Mayor J. Chas Hundley and his wife Luella were shot in their own home. The only suspect was Hundley’s son, but he was never charged.
Guests and residents have been reporting paranormal activity for several decades. It is said that the porch swing allegedly swings on its own even when there is no wind.
Pots and pans are also said to bang in the kitchen, lights turn on and off by themselves, and doors open and close on their own.
10. Choate Mental Health Center, Anna
When the Choate Mental Health Center first opened in 1875, it was known as the Southern Hospital for the Insane. The hospital had quite a run of bad luck over the years. A fire destroyed one wing of the main building in 1881, then another fire took out a large section of the hospital in 1895.
It is not clear if anyone died in these fires, but the property has been rumored to be haunted for a number of years now, even while the hospital was still in operation. Visitors and passersby have seen apparitions, shadowy figures, and ghostly faces in the windows.
There is one particular story of a patient being attacked by what he described as a ‘devil dog’ in his room. When the orderlies turned on the lights there was nothing there, but the man had scratches all over his body.
There are also reports of people being unseen hands while down in the tunnels that connect the various buildings.
11. Lebanon Road, Collinsville
Lebanon Road certainly does seem like a rather terrifying stretch of road! One of the most unique features of the road is that it has seven railway bridges passing over it which are locally referred to as the seven gates of hell. There is an urban legend that circulates in the local area stating that if someone passes underneath all seven bridges at midnight, they will pass into a portal leading to Hell itself! Each of the seven bridges is also supposed to be guarded by Hell hounds!
One of the scariest of the bridges is the one known as Acid Bridge. The legend is that some teenagers were high on Acid when they lost control of their car and flipped over the edge of the bridge into the shallow creek below where they all died instantly. People say that they feel particularly uneasy on this bridge and have strange feelings while there. There are also cold spots and weird unexplained noises. Although, to be fair none of the seven bridges looks particularly welcoming!
12. Robinson Woods, Chicago
Let’s be honest – forests have a tendency to be quite creepy anyway, especially after dark, so imagine just how spooky a bona fide haunted forest must be! Rumor has it that the land is actually cursed. The land was acquired by a Mr. Robinson following a treaty with three local Native American tribes. At first, Robinson seemed to have some decent luck on his side, but it wasn’t long before his luck seemed to run out leaving him plagued by misfortune. His home was destroyed by fire which ended his family’s claim to the property meaning that it reverted to being park district property. That’s when things got weird!
Three people were strangled and left lying naked in a ditch on the property. The crime remained unsolved until 1994. Around the same time, visitors to the area began to report various strange occurrences including weird lights, sounds, and smells. Reports were made from runners, kids playing out in the woods, and even police who had been called in to investigate. There are often reports of Tom-tom drums being played which fits with the property since there are Indian burial mounds in the woods. There have also been reports of a sound that resembles sawing wood!
13. Congress Plaza Hotel, ChicagoBOOK NOW
Located in one of the most haunted cities in the US, The Congress Plaza Hotel was built back in 1893 and has been dubbed the Landmark of Hospitality in Chicago. It has a long history with the paranormal and is said to be home to a classic poltergeist style haunting.
For almost as long as the hotel has been open, guests and staff alike have reported strange noises coming from the hotel ballroom when it is empty. The many hallways are also commonly the site of unexplained activity! Appliances all over the hotel are said to turn on and off of their own volition and guests have claimed to see an apparition of the hotel’s former owner – Mr. Al Capone!
However, although arguably the most famous ghost to inhabit the hotel, Al Capone is not the one who most of the sightings relate to. In fact, a much more common report is from a guest who sees a ghostly gloved hand sticking out of the wall. It has been dubbed ‘The Hand of Mystery’!
See also: Chicago’s Most Haunted Hotels
The story goes that a construction worker somehow managed to get trapped behind some drywall when the property was being built and ended up walled in. The hand is all that he has been able to free from his final resting place and he is doomed to wave for all eternity in an attempt to get some help.
Another commonly spotted ghost is known as Peg Leg Johnny. He is said to be the spirit of a hobo who was murder in the building several years ago!
14. Showmen's Rest, Chicago
Showmen’s Rest is an interesting spot within Woodlawn Cemetery in Illinois. In 1918, there was a horrific train wreck involving a circus train. A conductor on another train apparently fell asleep causing his train to plow into the circus train killing somewhere between 60 and 110 circus employees and some of the circus animals. The victims are buried in a mass grave in this corner of the cemetery which has come to be known as ‘Showmen’s Rest’. Since many of the circus performers’ names were not known the markers say things like ‘Baldy’, ‘Unidentified Male’, or ‘4 Horse Driver’. These days Showmen’s Rest is still used as a burial ground for the circus folk and showmen. There have been many reports of paranormal activity here, but one of the most common is the sound of phantom elephants being heard in the dead of night!
15. Hotel Baker, St CharlesBOOK NOW
Hotel Baker is a charming hotel that has been in business since approximately 1926.
Colonel Baker built the hotel on the site of an old mill and it was constructed with a working hydroelectric facility, a radio station, a rose garden and a parking garage since the Colonel had a dream of creating a luxurious hotel where guests could escape for some serious relaxation.
Today the hotel has much of the same ethos, and many of the original pieces of furniture are still in place. The furnishings are not the only things that have hung around – there are also plenty of ghosts as well!
The hauntings at Hotel Baker can perhaps be attributed to the fact that a former chambermaid committed suicide while working at the hotel by drowning herself in the nearby Fox River after being jilted at the altar.
Her quarters would have originally been on the 6th floor, although that part of the hotel has now been converted into the penthouse suite.
However, those who have stayed in the penthouse have reported hearing disembodied voices within the suite and have even felt some unseen force tugging on the bedding.
16. Bachelor's Grove Cemetery, Chicago
Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery is a small, abandoned burial ground in Bremen Township, Cook County – the southwest suburbs of Chicago. It is certainly not a place for the faint of heart.
There are several different ghost stories that are linked to the desecrated cemetery which is often said to be one of the most haunted cemeteries in the United States.
The headstones at Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery date back as far as the early part of the 17th century, although it was not officially consecrated as a burial ground until 1844.
There are persistent reports that Satanic rituals are conducted in the abandoned cemetery even to this day which of course just serves to add more fuel to the creepy stories that are linked to the place.
Orbs are a common occurrence not only in photographs and videos but also seen with the naked eye. People also describe seeing red streaks of light flitting between the headstones with no explanation as to what it could be!
There are also several spirits known to haunt the cemetery, but the two most well-known would be the white lady and a young boy. The young boy has been heard crying out about a lost silver coin.
Interestingly enough, in 2006 an investigation was conducted and a well-known psychic is said to have gone into a trance-like state and walked into a knee-deep muddy pond where he bent down and instantly retrieved a 1942 Walking Liberty half dollar from the bottom of the pond!
Since then it seems that the little boy ghost has not made any more appearances. Perhaps he just wanted to find his coin all along!
The white lady has actually been dubbed ‘ The Madonna of the Bachelor’s Grove’. She appears on top of one of the tombstones and looks out towards the thick woods close to the cemetery.
However, by far the strangest ghost story that has been linked to Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery is the tale of the ghost house. A large manor is said to appear from time to time and has even shown up in some photographs. However, whenever you get close to the house it vanishes into thin air!