Of all of the regions in the state of Illinois, Southern Illinois is the one that stands out because it is so geographically distinct. It was one of the earliest parts of the state to be settled, so it does have a very long and rich history. It is really no surprise that the region has so many haunted locations.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most haunted places in Southern Illinois.
10 - 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?
9 - 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 backwards and forwards 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!
8 - 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.
7 - 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. Rumours 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 blood stains appear and disappear on the walls.
6 - 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 which 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 the violin music can be heard. Is Harriet Annie practising her music lessons even in death?
5 - Pulaski County Courthouse, Mound City
One of the most haunted places in Southern Illinois is Mound City’s Pulaski County Courthouse. 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 which 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.
4 - Rose Hotel, ElizabethtownStay at rose hotel
The Rose Hotel in Elizabeth has long been considered one of the most haunted places in Southern Illinois. At present, the hotel is owned by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency who operate 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. Se 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!
3 - 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 has 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.
2 - 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.
1 - 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 rumoured 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. Without a doubt this is one of the most haunted places in Southern Illinois.
Ghost Hunts in Illinois
Other Haunted Hotels in Illinois
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