The 7 Most Haunted Places In Illinois
There is no doubt that many people love a spooky story. Whether it’s the thrill of the unknown or the adrenaline rush of a scare, haunted tales can be a real treat. And the state of Illinois has no lack of uncanny accounts of the paranormal. What are the most haunted places in Illinois? Read on to find out.
Is Illinois a Haunted State?
Illinois is known for its vast farmlands of cornfields, the bustling city of Chicago, and for being the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln. From the metropolis of Chicago to quaint small towns dotting southern Illinois, the state enjoys a rich history, diverse culture, and iconic cuisine.
However, there is a darker side to Illinois. Illinois boasts a surprising amount of ghost stories and supernatural tales. There are so many spooky Illinois stories that it’s hard to choose which tales to tell. But that’s just what we did. Read on to learn all about some of the scariest places in Illinois.
Congress Plaza Hotel — Chicago
First on our list is perhaps the most haunted place in all of Illinois. The Congress Plaza Hotel has a long history dating back to its construction in 1893. The 871-room hotel was originally built for guests coming to town for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Designed by architect, Clinton J. Warren, the hotel was meant to blend in with the Auditorium Theater next door. The hotel is sometimes called “Home of the Presidents” because a number of U.S. presidents have stayed in the hotel.
The Most Haunted Hotel in Illinois
However, today the hotel is often said to be one of the most haunted places in Chicago. It’s the subject of many ghost-hunting adventures and tours. In fact, the notorious Chicago gangster Al Capone is rumored to have stayed there. His ghostly figure is said to roam the halls still, wearing his iconic fedora. Aside from Capone, there are dozens of tales of ghost sightings and uncanny happenings in the building, including lights flickering and elevators mysteriously stopping on haunted floors.
Some of the most well-known ghost stories include the following:
- Peg Leg Johnny is a famous ghost who haunts the hallways. His spirit causes lights to flicker and appliances to malfunction.
- It’s said the sixth floor is haunted by a little boy who was murdered by his mother. She allegedly threw him and his sister out of a window before killing herself.
- Room 441 is supposed to be the most haunted room in the hotel. Guests have reported spooky happenings including a dark figure of a woman that kicks them awake.
The hotel is still operating today, and guests can book a room to see for themselves if the stories are true. The Congress Plaza Hotel is located at 520 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago.
Resurrection Cemetery — Justice, IL
If the Congress Hotel is Chicago’s most famous haunted hotel, Resurrection Mary is the city’s most famous ghost. Legend has it that in the 1920s, a young woman killed by a hit-and-run driver began haunting the stretch of Archer Road near Resurrection Cemetery. Mary was coming home from a ball, and her spirit has been said to haunt dance halls and nightclubs in the area ever since. Today, her ghost still wanders the road at night, searching for a ride home.
The story goes that a young woman wearing a white gown can be spotted walking along the side of the road at night. For the kind-hearted person nice enough to pick her up, Mary asks for a ride to the nearby Resurrection Cemetery, where she is said to be buried. However, upon reaching the cemetery, the young woman vanishes into thin air. Resurrection Cemetery is located at 7201 Archer Avenue in Justice, IL.
McPike Mansion — Alton, IL
So far, we’ve discussed Illinois’ most haunted hotel and most famous ghost. This next entry delves into the state’s most haunted mansion. Built in 1869 by Henry Guest McPike, the McPike Manion is said to be one of the most haunted places in the United States.
On the National Register of Historic Places, it’s speculated the home may have been a stop on Illinois’ Underground Railroad. Today it’s a popular spot for paranormal investigators. The house is reportedly haunted by former owner, Paul Laichnger and a former employee, Sarah Wells. Some of the spooky sightings reported by visitors include shadow figures, orbs of light, and mysterious figures seen peering out the windows.
Located at 2018 Alby Street in Alton, IL, the mansion is open for daily tours. If you happen to see the house in person, be sure to take plenty of photos. The stories say that when you look back at your photos of the mansion, you may spot something that wasn’t there when you snapped the picture. Some people have seen orbs of light or even ghostly apparitions appearing in photos when they look at them afterward.
Old Joliet Prison — Joliet, IL
The gothic-like castle known as Old Joliet Prison opened in 1858 to help with the overcrowding of a nearby prison. However, by 1878, the Joliet prison was also severely overcrowded with deplorable conditions for inmates. The public called for its closure beginning in 1905. But the prison was to remain open for nearly another 100 years. After it closed in 2002, until the Joliet Historical Museum purchased the building in 2017, the site sat abandoned.
With its Gothic architecture, limestone interior, and gruesome past, the prison is the perfect backdrop for haunted stories. Further, the building was the site of hundreds of deaths (by executions and prison violence). Legend has it that people visiting the building have experienced uneasy feelings and seen apparitions.
The Old Joliet Prison holds the distinction of being one of the very few haunted attractions housed in an actual haunted place. The abandoned Joliet Correctional Center opened in 2021 as a seasonal Halloween attraction inside the annex of the main building (401 Woodruff Road in Joliet). Or, year-round, outdoor tours are held at the main site at 1125 Collins Street, operated by the Joliet Historical Museum.
Oak Ridge Cemetery — Springfield, IL
The capital of Illinois, and President Lincoln’s hometown of Springfield, is full of not only history but also ghost stories. Legend has it that the former president is sometimes spotted walking around his tomb. He and many of his immediate family are laid to rest in the cemetery. The Lincoln Monument, a 117-foot obelisk on top of a base, marks his grave. Lincoln’s ghost has allegedly been seen not only in the cemetery but all around Springfield. One of the eeriest tales told about Lincoln’s spirit is that his funeral train haunts the railroad tracks of the United States. The story goes that a phantom funeral procession train is occasionally seen on railroad tracks across the country, as it follows the same route his funeral procession took in 1865, from Washington, D.C. to Springfield, IL.
Visitors and employees have reported feeling uneasy and hearing whispers, footsteps, and crying in the cemetery around the tomb. Lincoln’s spirit isn’t the only ghost to haunt the cemetery. Sightings of a little boy and a woman in a red cape have been reported. Located at 1500 Monument Avenue in Springfield, tours of Lincoln’s tomb are available daily.
Rialto Square Theater — Joliet, IL
We’re heading back to Joliet for this entry, but this one is in a decidedly more cheerful place than an abandoned prison. The historic Rialto Square Theatre is a stunning example of Neo-Baroque-style architecture. It opened in 1926 as a vaudeville movie palace, and today is open for plays, musicals, and concerts. The interior is gorgeous with French influences. In fact, the inner lobby is designed after the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles, and the arch in the rotunda area is modeled after the Arc de Triomphe.
Despite all this beauty, the theatre has a spooky side. Employees of the theater told the Patch several well-known spirits frequent the place including:
- Vivian, a former vaudeville performer haunts the theatre.
- The Woman in White or The Bride, who haunts the theater’s back staircase.
- The spirit of a four-year-old boy named Colin likes to mischievously pull guests’ hair or tug on clothing.
Other than the named spirits, there have been reports of shadow figures, voices, and doors opening and closing by themselves.
The Rialto Square Theater is located at 102 North Chicago Street in Joliet. Guests interested in the paranormal, or seeing a show, can go on the website to buy tickets for upcoming performances.
Cave-In-Rock State Park — Harden County, IL
Finally, we end our list with a scenic rock formation located in far southern Illinois. Cave-In-Rock is located at 1 New State Park Road, Cave-In-Rock, IL. The cave is on a bluff overlooking the scenic Ohio River in a city that shares its name and is within Hardin County. A beautiful and remote location, the park is on the border with Kentucky, and also about two and a half hours from St. Louis, MO. Wildlife enthusiasts can keep an eye out for red-shouldered hawks, bald eagles, raccoons, white-tail deer, and opossums.
While the park offers many amenities, such as camping, fishing, and hiking, the cave is rumored to be extraordinarily haunted. A scenic hike takes visitors to the entrance of the cave. The cave is a former hideout for river pirates that plundered ferries along the Ohio River, robbing and killing their victims. The sad story is that the unfortunate souls of the victims remain restless. Today, at times their sad cries can still be heard coming from the mouth of the cave.