It seems that every corner of the Land of Lincoln has a story to tell, so we made this list of the most haunted places in Illinois.
Many haunted stories involve the tragic demise of residents of the past who remain on this plane of existence still today. When you consider some of Illinois’ residents, though, it’s no surprise that it’s long been a favorite location for paranormal enthusiasts.
From Al Capone to H.H. Holmes, the residents have long shared state lines with some of history’s greatest murderers. John Wayne Gacy, who brutally ended the lives of thirty-three men, called Chicago his home.
Alongside these notoriously dangerous men, violent histories of war, massacres, cold cases, lost love, and slave kidnappings form the backdrop for a terrifying tapestry of terror right in the heartland of America.
- 1. Chesterville Witch’s Grave, Arcola, Illinois
- 2. Death Curve, Cambridge, Illinois
- 3. Acid Bridge, Collinsville, Illinois
- 4. H.H. Holmes Murder Castle, Chicago, Illinois
- 5. DeSoto House Hotel, Galena, Illinois
- 6. Devil’s Bake-Oven, Grand Tower, Illinois
- 7. Peoria State Hospital, Bartonville, Illinois
- 8. McPike Mansion, Alton, Illinois
- 9. Crenshaw Mansion, Equality, Illinois
- 10. Robinson Woods, Norridge, Illinois
- 11. Manteno State Mental Hospital, Manteno, Illinois
- 12. Congress Plaza Hotel, Chicago, Illinois
- Related Posts to the Most Haunted Places in Illinois
1. Chesterville Witch’s Grave, Arcola, Illinois
Address: N. Co Rd 425E, Chesterville, IL 61911
It turns out Salem isn’t the only place with a rather witchy history. Right in the middle of Amish Country lies a tiny hamlet called Chesterville. The entire village consists only of a few houses, a diner, and a small cemetery where a witch’s remains lie in an unmarked grave.
At the outskirts of the graveyard, a towering oak surrounded by a black, iron fence seems out of place in the otherwise normal final resting place for long-deceased residents of Chesterville. Among them, according to legend, is a woman who was accused of witchcraft around 1900.
While the exact story is unknown, there are several theories on why this site sees so much paranormal activity. The community lashed at a woman in each of these, accusing her of consorting with the devil and practicing black magic.
To keep her restless spirit at bay, the residents bound her soul to the oak tree and utilized the anti-spectral properties of iron to prevent her from escaping from her grave.
Visitors adamantly claim that the tactics do little to stop the woman from prowling the cemetery at night, waiting for the day when she can finally take revenge on those whose ancestors sentenced her to an early and gruesome death.
This is one unique location to make the list of the most haunted places in Illinois.
2. Death Curve, Cambridge, Illinois
Address: Timber Ridge Road, Cambridge, Illinois 61238
Timber Ridge Road seems unsuspecting enough, at least until motorists catch the fluttering of a white gown in their periphery as they angle their way through the so-called “Death Curve.”
This specter has a gruesome backstory that was once front-page news.
As reported in the Rock Island Argus on September 30, 1905, “Mrs. Clarence Markham While Insane Murders Seven Children With an Ax and Sets House Afire– Succeeds in Killing Herself.”
The story begins with Julia Johnson marrying Clarence B. Markham, a farmer, in 1896. Julia birthed seven children over the next nine years– four girls and three boys.
On the morning of the tragic crime, Julia sent her two oldest to fetch water from a local spring. During their absence, she wielded an ax against the youngest five, including a baby of only five months. Upon their return, the remaining two suffered the same fate.
Mrs. Markham attempted to slice her own throat with a blunt knife following her foul deeds. When she failed, she laid all of her children out on the bed, poured oil over their bodies, and lit the match that sealed her fate.
Neighbors found her horrifically burnt after she crawled out of the informal funeral pyre and died later that day.
Locals blame accidents on Timber Ridge road on her ghost, who is said to wander the fields with her hair billowing behind her like smoke.
3. Acid Bridge, Collinsville, Illinois
Address: Lebanon Road, Collinsville, IL 62234
Next up on the most haunted places in Illinois is Lebanon Road that is home to seven bridges collectively referred to as “The Seven Gates of Hell.” These bridges are said to be entrances to the underworld, with vicious hellhounds, jowls oozing with rabid fury, guarding each one.
The most haunted bridge on the route is Acid Bridge, where a car full of drug-addled teenagers met a cruel fate after losing control of their vehicle and summarily died in the shallow creek bed below.
Late-night travelers report feeling uneasy, hearing strange noises, and experiencing a sudden drop in temperature as they pass over the paranormal site.
4. H.H. Holmes Murder Castle, Chicago, Illinois
Address: 611 W. 63rd St., Chicago, IL 60621
If you drive past the empty lot flanked by a post office and train tracks on either side at 611 W. 63rd Street in downtown Chicago, you would never know that the location was once the home of America’s first known serial killer, H.H. Holmes.
This was no simple family residence, though. Instead, it was a “Murder Castle,” complete with trap doors, body chutes, and a basement crematorium where Holmes disposed of the evidence of his sick crimes.
Heading to Chicago? Book this ghost tour to see all the haunts, including H.H. Holmes murder castle.
He commissioned the building in 1889 and hired hands completed it just in time for thousands of visitors to pour into the Windy City for the World’s Fair in 1893. Holmes capitalized on the chaos to lure unsuspecting tourists to his hotel, where he played mad scientist with their bodies.
Some of the most notable features of the house included gas lines that piped poison into rooms and massive safes with floors covered in acid where he would lock his victims to suffer an excruciatingly long and painful death.
Holmes eventually confessed to 27 murders, though some estimate his death toll as closer to 200. It’s no wonder that the post office and grassy knoll where his “pet project” once stood is alight with paranormal activity.
It’s no wonder how H.H. Holmes murder house made it on the list of the most haunted places in Illinois.
5. DeSoto House Hotel, Galena, Illinois
Address: 230 S Main St, Galena, IL 61036
Once Galena’s hub of town social life, the DeSoto House Hotel has played host to illustrious guests in its 170-year history.
Abraham Lincoln delivered a speech from the balcony in 1856, Stephen A. Douglas did the same in 1968, and Ulysses S. Grant headed his presidential campaign from the comfort of rooms 209 and 211. So how did this upscale hotel make it on the list for the most haunted places in Illinois? Well…
There were misfortunes in equal measure for every celebrated politician and celebrity guest. Four years after the Galena opened, a raging fire destroyed twelve rooms. A decade later, in 1869, a basement boiler exploded.
By 1880, the Galena had lost its luster, and the city removed the top stories. Today, fifty-five rooms, three dining areas, shops, and a four-story atrium remain. But bellhops and housekeepers aren’t the only souls wandering the winding corridors of the DeSoto House Hotel.
The Lady in Black, a ghost of unknown origin, haunts the hotel, appearing as a dark shadow dressed in traditional 19th-century clothing and floating through a wall where a doorway once stood.
The third floor has the most reported activity, including phantom footsteps, eerie noises from empty rooms, and an ominous presence keeping guests company from the foot of their beds.
6. Devil’s Bake-Oven, Grand Tower, Illinois
Address: Grand Tower, IL 62942
Standing 100-feet tall and overlooking the Mississippi River, the Devil’s Bake-Oven is a cliff that has played host to its fair share of tragedy.
Local historians note that pirates hiding in the coves would attack frontiers navigating the area, stealing their cargo and lives. Algonquian tribes, who believed the river was home to the Manitou deity, would sacrifice travelers to appease the hungry monster.
The saddest story, though, is that of Esmerelda. She was the daughter of an iron mill supervisor who fell in love with a riverboat pilot. Her father, who didn’t want Esmerelda to marry, locked her away in her room. She ran away, throwing herself off the cliff into the craggy rocks below.
Locals claim that late-night explorers will hear the girl’s sobbing echo through the trees and see a misty presence appear in the inky night.
7. Peoria State Hospital, Bartonville, Illinois
Address: Ricketts Ave. and U.S. 24, Bartonville, Illinois 61607
Once called the Illinois Asylum for the Incurably Insane, little remains of the massive Peoria State Hospital. Today only twelve of the 63 original buildings on the campus remain standing, including Pollack Hospital, which once served as a tuberculosis ward.
This building hosts the most paranormal activity, along with the four on-site graveyards where thousands of patients were laid to rest. Among them is Old Book, a gravedigger known for crying under an elm tree each time someone died.
Dr. George Zeller wrote in his book Befriending the Bereft that on the day of Old Book’s funeral, hundreds of spectators witnessed a full-body apparition of the man standing under the “Crying Tree.”
Paranormal enthusiasts have experienced voices from beyond the veil as they wander the grounds, an echo of the patients and staff who once called Peoria State Hospital home.
8. McPike Mansion, Alton, Illinois
Address: 2018 Alby St, Alton, IL 62002
The McPike Mansion is a notorious supernatural site, consisting of an abandoned 16-acre mansion situated on a large, 15-acre swath of land that nature has reclaimed over the last 60 years. This was an obvious add to our most haunted places in Illinois list.
Despite its vacant status, the mansion seems to be blazing with unexplained energy. The past and current owners have all claimed to experience orbs, footsteps, strange mists, objects that move on their own, and chilling voices cut through the stale air of the dilapidated building.
Perhaps most haunting are the outlines of human figures that appear only in photos.
While there is some disagreement about who exactly it is roaming these grounds, a dozen different spirits have made themselves known to visitors, including Native Americans, the original owners, servants, and escaped slaves.
9. Crenshaw Mansion, Equality, Illinois
Address: Route 1, Equality, Illinois 62934
John Crenshaw, who made his living kidnapping freed African Americans and selling them back into slavery, built this family residence in the 1830s.
Its notoriety as a key stop along the Reverse Underground Railroad is only bolstered by the presence of a spirit of a slave named Big Jim. He was only one of the many African Americans who found themselves shackled in Crenshaw’s attic, outfitted as a dungeon of horrors.
There, tourists claim to have seen blood suddenly appear in rivulets down the walls and hear chains rattling amidst the haunting cacophony of the dying, moaning for salvation from their prison.
Historians believe that the rumors of the ghost began when townspeople would hear the cries of these prisoners, mistaking them for the laments of tortured souls from beyond the grave. The truth behind their assumptions was more horrifying than they could imagine.
10. Robinson Woods, Norridge, Illinois
Address: W Lawrence Ave, Chicago, IL 60706
After protecting several Americans and helping them escape from the Fort Dearborn Massacre during the War of 1812, Potawatomi chief Chee-chee-pin-quay, also known as Alexander Robinson, received 1,600 acres of land now known as the Robinson Woods.
As the site of several Native American burial mounds, this sylvan gathering place of spirits seems to haunt all five of the senses with reminders of the tribes who rest there.
Those brave enough to trek down the trails report smelling lavender, watching torches move near the gravesites, and hearing the sound of tom-tom drums reverberating through the groves of trees.
Adding to the creepiness factor, it’s also the location where three young boys were found dead in 1955. The case went cold for more than 40 years until forensic evidence from another disappearance revealed the culprit, a man named Silas Jayne.
11. Manteno State Mental Hospital, Manteno, Illinois
Address: 102 Diversatech Dr, Manteno, IL 60950
As other asylums overflowed with patients in desperate need of mental health services, Manteno State Mental Hospital opened in 1930, hoping that easing the patient load in other facilities would stop the terrible abuse the mentally ill faced in overcrowded sanitariums.
Unfortunately, that was not the case. Instead, Manteno soon found itself bursting at the seams, just as a wave of typhoid fever gripped the area.
In the name of science, these patients found themselves under the care of doctors who cared little for human decency.
Instead, so-called medical professionals delighted in their research into the effects of injecting people with malaria, performing oft-botched lobotomies, and any other “experiments” that caught their fancy.
Is it any surprise, then, that the humans who died violent, unnecessary deaths roam these halls, seeking peace in the afterlife that may never come?
When the hospital was open to tours, people found themselves suddenly under the grip of a chilling, imperceptible hand or experienced the overwhelming feeling of being watched by the strange entities that suffered there so long ago.
12. Congress Plaza Hotel, Chicago, Illinois
Address: 520 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605
Referred to as “Chicago’s Most Haunted Hotel” and another artifact of the World’s Fair, the Congress Plaza consists of a maze of hallways occupied by phantoms of times long since past.
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One such spook is Peg Leg Johnny, an associate of Al Capone who found himself on the wrong side of a lead bullet. The tiny ghosts of two children, whose mother threw them from a window, still delight in mischief, filling the empty labyrinth with bone-chilling laughter.
Those who dare to spend the night say that they feel as if they are constantly being watched by an unseen presence that follows them as they walk the halls. This feeling is powerful on the 12th floor, where the siblings suffered their terrifying death.
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