Ill Illinois


Justified & Ancient
Jan 28, 2002
Mobster Ghost

Hello to anyone reading this. This took place in the house I am currently writing this.
This house was built back in 1902 in a southwest suburb of Chicago, and apparently about 20 years after that a man and his
wife moved in here. He was one of Dillingers men. The neighbors spoke about early every
morning he would would walk out to his model t in a nice suit with his tommy gun at side.
One morning after he took off another car pulled up and two men got out and ran around
to the back door. They kicked in the door and promptly machine gunned down the mans

My Aunt bought the house about 25 years ago, and rents out an apartment on the
second floor. When she would be at work the upstairs neighbors would tell her how
they heard someone down there walking around and moving things, which really freaked
them out. My Aunt does have six cats, but I believe it would be hard for them to replicate
a humans footsteps, but they could be the answer for knocking things around. I have always
felt weird up here even when I was a kid. Just last week I was sitting here on the computer
when I looked up and saw something peeking at me from behind a pillar that is less than two
feet to the northwest. It was a bluish shadow that quickly disappeared around the corner
as I looked up and saw it/her. I have a constant feeling of being watched, which really
doesn't bother me because I welcome any ghost or weird creatures with open arms.
My Aunt had some guys she know come over a couple of years and they spread salt all
around the perimeter of the property and she couldn't give me further details of the
cleansing ritual. She believes it worked and that the ghost(s) left the house. I still see strange
shadows at night and still get that weird feeling here, so maybe there is some kind of
remnants or residue that clings to the house. Well that pretty much ends my story, but does
anyone have any information pertaining to the cleansing ritual that was performed???
Thanx for your time.
Last edited:


the only clensing ritual I know is not realy one I supose...

when you move into a knew house sprinkle salt over the erm what-do-you-call-them door jambs (?) ie. the floor outside the door anyway. This stops spitits entering just as a rowen tree will.

If you sprinkle it within an aria that already has a presence then you contain the spirit.

I think it's irish.


Gone But Not Forgotten
Aug 18, 2002
Shpooky Chicago

The Haunted City

By Jeff Danna & Alicia Dorr
City Beat Editors

Nearly three million people live in Chicago, and that’s with emphasis on the word “live.”

To some, Chicago is not just another city saturated with people—the spirits of the deceased also inhabit it. Or, simply put, Chicago is haunted.

“Chicago is definitely one of the most haunted cities, if not in the world, in the country,” said C.T. Thieme, researcher of the paranormal and guide for the Chicago Hauntings ghost tour.

From wandering apparitions to aggravating poltergeists, Chicago is believed to be home to an assortment of otherworldly forces hiding out in theaters, restaurants, cemeteries and every other location imaginable.

City residents are willing to listen to the haunting tales out of curiosity of the unknown and the thrill of a good scare during the Halloween season.

“I think the excitement that comes with our uncertainty of the unknown and the fear we all have inside us of what else is out there [brings us here],” said Chicago resident Michael Mead on a trip to the allegedly haunted Hull House on the city’s Near West Side.

Mead said ghost lore is so fascinating because of good storytelling.

Angela Whitlow, a Prospect Heights resident captivated by Chicago’s ghostly history, agreed.

“If a story has a factual element, that makes it all the more intriguing,” Whitlow said.

In the spirit of Halloween, The Chronicle visited and researched some of Chicago’s most famous haunted sites to gain an understanding of the supernatural forces that supposedly live among us.

The Iroquois Theater

While most people believe the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 was the city’s greatest tragedy, a more concentrated fire in a downtown theater in 1903 surpassed that disaster’s death toll by more than 300 casualties and has left behind a gruesome tale.

Built on the location now occupied by the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St., the Iroquois Theater was a ritzy performance venue designed to rival Broadway’s theaters in New York. A few weeks after the Iroquois opened in December 1903, the musical “Mr. Blue Beard Jr.” was at the theater, and the place was packed with about 800 people.

The show was going smoothly until the second act, when the drapery hiding the stage caught fire from a footlight. Soon, the set was ablaze and panic ensued.

When patrons rushed to the fire exits, they found the doors chained off. The Iroquois’ owners had paid off the fire department to ignore fire code violations so the owners could keep people from sneaking into shows through the fire exits. As a result, more than 600 people died from the inferno, and the floor was 7 feet deep with bodies.

Those who sat in the balcony that down the fire escape, but when the door was opened, the people found no fire escape—just a five-story drop into the alley behind the theater. As the crowd pushed out the door, 150 people fell to their deaths.

While the Ford Center has replaced the Iroquois Theater, legend has it that the location is inhabited by the victims’ spirits. Inside, disembodied footsteps can be heard, and lights turn off and on during productions. In the alley, people have reported seeing a woman dressed in white meandering between the buildings. And some have felt the touch of a hand while no one is around.

Lincoln Park

Going for a stroll through Lincoln Park, even at night, does not seem like a scary endeavor for most people. However, those who decide to might have some interesting company. Lincoln Park ghost stories range from groups of people in early 1900s period dress to post-World War II soldiers complaining of apparitions.

Policemen on night checks when the park closes talk about catching someone in their headlights and, after chasing them, watching them disappear in the air.

Resurrection Mary

One of Chicago’s most famous ghosts technically does not reside in Chicago, but her story begins downtown at Lake Street and Wacker Drive.

“Resurrection Mary,” as she is known, is believed by some researchers to be Mary Bregovy, a young woman who died in 1934 and was buried in Resurrection Cemetery in Justice, Ill.

After spending the night dancing at the O’Henry Ballroom, now the Willowbrook Ballroom, near Resurrection Cemetery, Mary left with several others in a car headed to Chicago. But Mary was killed when the car struck a post supporting the el tracks above Lake and Wacker.

Legend has it that in 1936, a man spent an evening dancing with a woman he met at the O’Henry Ballroom. When he drove her home down Archer Avenue, she asked to be dropped off in front of Resurrection Cemetery, where she vanished.

Since then, there have been numerous reports of people encountering Mary dressed in a white evening gown as they pass the cemetery where she is believed to be buried.

Harpo Studios

Before 110 N. Carpenter St. was home to Harpo Studios and the Oprah Winfrey Show, it was the Second Regiment Armory in Chicago. After the infamous Eastland disaster, many of the dead and dying were taken to this spot. When Winfrey bought the building in 1988 she had heard stories that the former armory was haunted, but went on with renovations anyway. Though Oprah does not grant interviews on the subject and does not discuss her own experiences, during the 16 years Harpo has been in the building, some employees’ stories have leaked. Corroborated stories of light switches physically being turned back on with no one around and people being locked inside their own offices after claiming to see apparitions are just some of the things employees have confessed.

The most remarkable story: A security guard walking through the halls suddenly smelled the scent of perfume, but after he looked around and saw nothing, he thought little of it. When the guard got back to the security center, the other guards asked him why he didn’t stop the woman. Though he had not seen any woman in the hall with his eyes, the other security guards had, and so had the security cameras.

Abraham Lincoln’s Train[/]b

On May 1, 1865, Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train made a final stop in Chicago before reaching its destination, Springfield, Ill. Union soldiers, townspeople, officials—everyone came out to the tracks near Roosevelt Road to meet the train and pay their respects. Chicago residents camped out on May 1 every year at this site to see Lincoln’s ghostly funeral train arrive. People went to see the Union soldiers and their 1860s counterparts until sometime in the 1970s, when the train disappeared into thin air for the last time.

The Red Lion Pub

No one drinks alone at the Red Lion Pub in Lincoln Park.

The pub at 2446 N. Lincoln Ave. is the home of several spirits, including a bearded man in black cowboy attire who wanders around the bar.

One of the most famous stories of Red Lion’s hauntings involves a woman who was killed in one of the upstairs rooms. The ghost now locks people in the women’s restroom, according to witnesses.

The other well-known ghost of the Red Lion is the deceased father of owner John Cordwell . The owner paid tribute to his father by installing a stained glass window on the staircase and hanging a plaque below the window.

When passing the memorial, visitors have reported a person’s touch on their shoulders and occasional dizzy spells.

It is stories like these that suggest when closing time comes at the Red Lion Pub, not everyone—or everything—leaves.

Hull House

When Jane Addams opened the Hull House, 800 S. Halsted St., in 1889 to help integrate immigrants into society, she strongly discouraged legends and stories from the old world being shared among the immigrants living there. She felt that these old tales kept the immigrants from letting go of old ties. This policy backfired, however, as the Hull House is now one of Chicago’s most haunted places.

Windows shatter out onto the garden late at night, shutters open and close when the building is empty, lights turn on and off and motion detectors sense movement where there is none. Some even say they have seen a woman in white, descending the staircase in front hall, leaving some to wonder if Jane Addams is still there.

The Eastland

Seeing a body floating in the Chicago River would probably be a bit shocking. Seeing a body floating in the Chicago River that disappears without a trace would be downright frightening.

That’s what some people have seen as they look down the Chicago River from the Clark Street bridge in the River North neighborhood, and researchers of paranormal activity believe it’s because of a boating disaster that occurred almost 90 years ago.

At 7 a.m. on July 24, 1915, a group of nearly 2,000 Western Electric employees and their families were gathered aboard the S.S. Eastland on the Chicago River to head across Lake Michigan to Michigan City, Ind., for an employee picnic.

What the passengers did not know was that the Eastland was top-heavy and the crew failed to compensate for this. When a fireboat came up alongside the Eastland and attempted to pass, it created a wave that caused the Eastland to tip over. Passengers on the upper deck fell overboard into the shallow water in one big heap.

The passengers on the lower deck were no better off. They were pinned against the Eastland’s wall with the boat’s furniture piled on top of them.

The disaster claimed about 800 lives.

Today, pedestrians crossing the Clark Street Bridge have said they feel drawn to the rail to look over the edge. Sometimes when they look over, they see bodies floating in the water, and when police respond to the reports, the bodies are gone.

Information for this report was acquired through C.T. Thieme of Chicago Hauntings ghost tours and ‘Chicago Haunts’ by Ursula Bielski.

Ghost Glossary

Get your details straight about the supernatural beings that may drift around you in Chicago

* Poltergeists are not necessarily the angry ghosts they’re often depicted to be. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, poltergeists are merely mischievous ghosts. Many paranormal researchers go so far as to say that self-aware ghosts have a sense of humor.

* Some ghosts are like a Tape Loop, said C.T. Thieme, tour guide for Chicago Hauntings. They repeat the same experience over and over, often on the anniversary of a tragic event.

* Imprints are different than tape looped ghosts. Sometimes when a tragic event takes place, it impacts so many at the same time that it causes a thin veil between the past and the present, Thieme said.

* Graveyards often have a No Ghosts Policy, according to Thieme. Employees of these graveyards are under the threat of being fired if they tell of strange occurrences of ghosts in the graveyard. Some Chicago ghost hunters say that Rosehill Cemetery, 5800 N. Ravenswood Ave., is one of them.

* Cold spots are measurable phenomena that paranormal researchers say happen when a ghost is in an area and the temperature drops considerably.

* Paranormal activity is often associated with places near water. Because Chicago sits on Lake Michigan, researchers believe this is why ghosts are especially attached to Chicago.

* Ghosts give off an electromagnetic pulse that can be picked up by electromagnetic field detectors.

—Compiled by Alicia Dorr

FEAR Tales form UCI and Beyond

by: Jillianne Salaver
Staff Writer

Like many other UCI students before you, you may consider this place to be pretty boring and devoid of anything worth talking about. Well, here are some spooky, parallel-universe-type stories that UCI students have found to talk about throughout the years. Yes, UCI has its own share of ghost stories. Now, light up that flashlight, stick it in front of your face and say “muahaha.”

UCI Urban Legends

If you’ve ever driven down Campus Drive, you know that the area between University Drive and Jamboree Road is pretty dark, empty and downright chilling. And if you’ve ever driven through that section very late at night or in the wee hours of the morning, you know that a white mist blankets the road and makes the already dark and winding street look a little creepier. So if this isn’t a good place to set up a ghost story, I don’t know what is.

There are a few different interpretations of this story, so maybe you have your own version.

“They say that if you’re by yourself or with several other guys and you pass a certain section, a girl will appear in your passenger seat and the only way to get rid of her is to drive out of that area,” said Tina Kim, a fifth-year psychology and social behavior major. According to Kim, this ghostly jogger targets males because of the way she died—sexual assault.

Another version of this story is that the girl was a star cross country runner and was hit by a car while doing her usual midnight run.

Maybe you’ve seen her, maybe you haven’t. Or maybe you’ve seen something floating around your dorm instead.

If you lived in the dorms duirng your first year at UCI, you might have heard some stories about haunted halls. One such story in both Middle Earth and Mesa Court is about a girl who hanged herself.

“Someone could see into her room and [noticed] that the girl’s curtains were always closed and that you could see the shadow of her dancing all night long,” Kim said. “A week later they found out the girl hung herself.”

Different versions of the story claimed that the girl wasn’t dancing, but spinning in the noose or bobbing her head to some music. The location of this story is one that changes quite frequently with each storyteller. Some say the story’s roots are in Prado Hall at Mesa Court. Others say it all started in The Shire at Middle Earth.

According to Leigh Poirier, a complex coordinator for Mesa Court, the story of Prado Hall’s haunting isn’t as interesting or ghoulish as some think it is.

“There is no foundation for it. It was a haunt-the-halls decoration contest,” Poirier said. “I talked to the director who has been here for the past 14 years and to her knowledge, no one has died at Mesa Court.”

Maybe right now you’re thinking along the lines of the gory and gruesome. But the supernatural isn’t limited to grisly murders of ghosts with unfinished business. There are also some less gruesome but equally strange stories. One of these stories floats through the halls of Evenstar in Middle Earth.

According to fourth-year international studies major Aditya Luthra, if you go up to the second story of Evenstar and make your way toward one of the suites, you might see a little boy that you haven’t seen before.

“Out of the corner of your eye you’ll see a little boy that was hiding run up the stairs to the third floor, but when you look no one is there,” Luthra said.

And in our very own Aldrich Park, there lies a story about not ghosts, but strange balls of light.

“These two guys were studying late for finals in the Science Library and on their way home, one guy saw these floating balls of light,” Luthra said. Apparently, the friend who had seen these balls of light had stopped to tie his shoe, and when his friend came back to look for him, he found a knife through his friend’s back and the floating balls of light around his body.

Mommy, Mommy!

So, other than the stories that haunt college students today, there have always been those stories that made us pee in our pants when we were little. Here are what some fellow Anteaters were afraid of back in the old days.

Some students found fear in tales passed on through generations that became only scarier through many translations.

“Bloody Mary scared me,” said third-year studio arts major Rohmel Reynoso. “My friend and his cousin ran out of the bathroom screaming and for a week I made sure the lights were on and the door was open when I went into the bathroom.”

“After I heard the Bloody Mary story I started being afraid of mirrors,” said third-year biological sciences major Elysse Espiritu.

Clowns are a common fear among both young and old, and UCI students are no exception.

“Ronald McDonald was doing some kind of show and it totally freaked me out,” said third-year economics major Jeff Balao. “The night before Halloween my dad painted my face as a clown while I was sleeping. I woke up, looked in the mirror and cried.”

“Once I got chased by a clown, and they used to scare me because of the movie ‘IT,”’ said Jen Ho, fourth-year East Asian languages and literature major.

Finally, cheesy horror movies may be funny for us now, but as children, they gave us nightmares.

“I watched the movie ‘Gremlins,’” said third-year political science major Pamela Le. “ They’re cute little furry things, but seeing them transform into those crazy creatures freaked me out,”

“‘Chuckie’ scared me so much,” said third-year biological sciences major Cesar Aranguri. “Shoot, a little doll running around killing things with no batteries? I had stuffed animals in my room. I couldn’t walk upstairs if no one was there. I had to run up and run back.”


Gone But Not Forgotten
Aug 18, 2002

[Sat Oct 30 2004]

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS -- The ghost stories of a region are the remnants of an oral tradition, a chronicle of persons and events that are chillingly recounted for generations.

Our history books only tell part of the story; our wild imaginations fill in the blanks. Or is it imagination? Humanity has been wrestling with that question for centuries.

What we do know is that our own tales of rattling chains, of strange forest creatures, of visitors from beyond the grave, are as deeply ingrained in Southern Illinois culture as the historic sites from which many of the tales emanate. The sheer expanse of Southern Illinois' phantasmic folklore has been the subject of several books such as "Haunted Illinois," "Weird Illinois" and "Weird Egypt: History, Haunts & Lore of Southern Illinois."

Several ghost stories from Southern Illinois reach back to and beyond the area's settlement. The region's eerie tales -- like those of the Old Slave House in Equality -- are still used by native Southern Illinoisans to spook their children on stormy Halloween nights, some 150 years after the first ghost story about the plantation appeared.

Others, like the spirits at Carbondale's DCI Biologicals, are newly told here and will likely be added to the campfire compendium entertaining the next generation.

Here are some of the area's finest, sure to send the proverbial chills up your spine and leave you to wonder, "Was that knock just now really the house settling?" Maybe it is a new tale to add to the repertoire of spirited stories that tell us as much about our history as they do of the paranormal.

DCI Biologicals, Carbondale

This historic building that once served as Carbondale's stately cement post office is a place where "weird things happen all the time," according to Michelle Kell, the center manager who did not believe in ghosts before working at the building on Main Street.

Now Kell admits she's afraid to be alone there at night, and she recently lost the employ of a night janitor who could not handle the intensity and frequency of poltergeist activity.

According to Kell, one of the janitor's scarier nights on the job included becoming locked in a closet when the door shut behind him and a chair flew behind the door. This has been known to happen to other employees, sometimes in broad daylight.

Kell has been alone in the building when doors of the nearly century-old edifice open and shut by themselves.

"I've heard a phone ringing downstairs. We don't have any phones downstairs," said Kell, who also reports the radio routinely turns on and off by itself at night. "That's the reason I don't want be here by myself."

The huge chandelier in the lobby also takes to swinging back and forth of its own volition and a recent photograph snapped in the lobby revealed a ghostly figure posing for the camera behind an employee.

"It looked like somebody white standing behind her. You could see it perfectly, like a white form," Kell said.

The white feminine outline, wearing a long dress, has been spotted at other times floating through the lobby.

Kell said the old post office, where a postmaster reportedly died, was also used to house other government offices like that of the FBI.

Old Slave House, rural Equality

This home, originally named Hickory Hill, is considered not only one of the most haunted places in Southern Illinois, but in the nation.

It was once used in the reverse underground railroad to capture free blacks and sell them into slavery for hefty profits. Some slaves were kept in Illinois for the excruciating work in the salt tracts owned by the home's owner, John Hart Crenshaw.

The attic of the beautiful white home was fashioned into a torture chamber where the blacks were shackled to small make-shift cells. The whipping post, bars on the two tiny windows that allowed practically no airflow into the slave holding cells, a ball and chain and the secret passage leading directly from the attic to a carriage door are grim reminders of the horrors endured here.

Jon Musgrave, a researcher of the home's history, says rumors of ghosts in the attic actually started appearing in the 1800s when townspeople weren't hearing Hickory Hill ghosts. They were hearing the all-too-real moans of live people.

When the house re-opened for tourism in the 1920s under new ownership, the ghost story revived as inhabitants and visitors alike told of strange noises throughout the house, most noticeably from the attic where, reportedly, blood stains appear on the walls and where chains still rattle and cries still echo at night.

The building, which closed to tourism eight years ago on Halloween, has hosted some 150 ghost hunters who tried to spend the night in the home. Only one made it through an entire night, departing with tales of ghostly sounds, according to "Haunted Illinois" author Troy Taylor, as recounted on his Web site

Reports of ghostly shapes and areas of extreme cold in the house, even on the hottest August days, continue through this day.

The Murphysboro Mud Monster

He has been called Bigfoot in the United States, the Abominable Snowman in the Himalayas, Mapinguari in the Amazon, Sasquatch in Canada, Yowie in Australia and Yeti in Asia.

In Jackson County, where a string of sightings occurred in the late '70s and early '80s, he's known as the Big Muddy Monster, named after the river he reportedly used as a main thoroughfare.

According to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Association, which has an extensive on line database of all sightings in the United States, the Murphysboro Mud Monster earns a class C in credibility, the lowest ranking.

However, many of the people reportedly saw the beast (often smelling a foul odor beforehand) still talk of the rare sightings of a creature most often described as looking like a big-boned and hair-covered 7-foot-tall biped. The hair was usually matted with mud and plant material, and recounts of the color vary from white to brown with silver streaks.

The monster never hurt anybody but spooked local hunters, children, lovebirds and once a troupe of carnies that said the beast stopped in to inspect the Shetland ponies one night while the group was setting up for a Riverside Park carnival.

The slew of sightings drew headlines from newspapers across the United States, including The New York Times.

It has been a decade since the last sighting of the mud monster, or Mongo as he is sometimes dubbed. But locals in the community still trade stories of the piercing cries made by the creature and large footprints left in the mud.

The Bigfoot Field Researchers Association reports a dozen other Bigfoot sightings in Southern Illinois over the last 50 years. The agency contends that Native Americans in the area first documented "non-human peoples of the wild," and for 400 years the wilderness of North America has been entertaining similar tales.

Devil's Bake Oven, Grand Tower

Historians surmise that places with names like Devil's Bake Oven often earn such monikers because of a belief by early inhabitants that such lands are cursed or somehow connected to the paranormal.

The once-booming iron town of Grand Tower, along the Mississippi River on Illinois 3, is no exception.

According to Taylor, legends of ghostly activity were first circulated by the Native Americans who called this area home. Powerful rapids slap the base of the rock, which caused numerous deaths at nearby Devil's Backbone, a rocky ridge about a mile-and-a-half long at Grand Tower's northern edge. Devil's Backbone continued to thwart the most experienced riverboat captains, resulting in many tragedies.

Ghost stories continued throughout the ages, including the story of a drowned wedding party that resurfaced from the river and foretold the coming of the Civil War to their descendants.

The most famous spirit in Grand Tower is that of Esmerelda, the daughter of a prominent citizen in the mid-1800s who lived atop Devil's Bake Oven. Esmerelda was said to have fallen in love with the handsome rogue pilot of a riverboat appropriately named "Spectre."

After a boiler explosion claimed her lover's life, according to legend Esmerelda leaped to her death from the high cliff. While her home that sat above the cliff is long gone, some believe Esmerelda remains.

Locals have said the dead girl appears as a fine mist. According to Taylor, she walks along the pathway and vanishes among rocks near the old house. The moaning and wailing that still echo from the area are said to be most acute during thunderstorms.

The Hundley House, Carbondale

This historic brick home on Main Street with accents such as an original Art Nouveau stained-glass window was the site of an unsolved murder in 1928 of the former mayor J. Chas Hundley and his philanthropist wife, Luella.

Speculation on the killing abounds with tales of shady connections the family may have had in the heyday of prohibition and mobsters. The only suspect was Hundley's son, who was allegedly involved in a bootlegging ring. He was never charged.

The hole from the 45-caliber bullet that ended Luella's life still remains by the private back staircase leading up from the kitchen of the current gift and wine shop to private rental quarters.

Guests and residents have reported ghostly activity continuously for the last seven decades. The porch swing starts swinging by itself on windless nights, pots and pans bang in the kitchen, doors open and close, and lights turn on and off by themselves.

Tenants who live in the upper level of the house also have reported creaking on the steps where Luella was slain.


Gone But Not Forgotten
Aug 18, 2002
Illinois, land of the weird

June 5, 2005


The Superdawg weenies -- their glowing red eyes a beacon for anyone with a hankering for a late-night Whoopskidawg -- stand tall in Chicago's cultural landscape.

For outsiders, however -- travelers perhaps -- the weenies are weird.

For author Troy Taylor, who grew up downstate, Superdawg Drive-In is a favorite city haunt.

"I just ate there a week ago," Taylor says via telephone, calling to chat about his new book, Weird Illinois: Your Travel Guide to Illinois' Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets (Barnes & Noble Books, $19.95).

Taylor has put together a colorful little tome in Weird Illinois. Consider some of the entries: Devil Baby of Hull House, The Demon Butcher of Palos Park, Perplexing Petroglyphs in Fountain Bluff, The Norway Nosedive, The Legend of the Devil's Bake Oven, The Freaky Farmer City Monster, The Mad Gasser of Mattoon.

Wherever you hail from, there's bound to be a story to which you can relate. Say, for instance, you grew up in northwest suburban Crystal Lake, where nighttime excitement was often hard to come by. You and your friends would scare yourselves silly, driving around nearby Bull Valley at night looking for the "devil worshippers' house" -- only you never found it, which was part of the fun.

Well, there it is on Page 124: The House With No Square Corners, an English-style country house built by George and Sylvia Stickney in the mid-1800s.

"As devout practitioners of spiritualism, the Stickneys insisted that the architect design no square corners in the house, since, as they explained it, spirits have a tendency to get stuck in these corners, which could have dire results," the book tells us.

Apparently one corner of a room ended up with a 90-degree angle, which supposedly drove the Stickneys out after seven of their children died within a short period of time.

The "devil worshippers" most likely referred to a group of hippies who lived in the house in the '60s, painted the rooms dark colors, had wild parties and built open fires on the floors.

Today, the house serves as the Bull Valley Village Hall.

Several other ghost stories, mysteries, legends and unexplained phenomena can be found in Taylor's book -- and who better to tell these tales than a guy who has written more than 30 books about ghosts and hauntings in Illinois and beyond?

"One of the things people always ask me is do I ever get scared," Taylor says. "Of course I do!"

Sometimes in the name of research.

"I went to an abandoned sanitarium with a friend and we were walking down a hallway, and about 25 feet away someone walked across the hall into a room. We knew no one was supposed to be in the building so we went to check it out. The room had no exit door or window -- and it was empty. We got out of there."

Obviously Taylor believes in ghosts, but there are degrees.

"I don't believe every story I hear," he says. "There's great folklore and great legends all over the place, and I've been around enough very strange stuff to know there's something to it, but some of it is just legend."

In paging through Weird Illinois, it might strike you that the people are weirder than any place or roadside object. There's the story of the late Robert Wadlow, the Gentle Giant from Alton, who has gained lasting fame as the tallest man in history, as well as entries on Chicago villains H.H. Holmes and John Wayne Gacy. But the most peculiar is a guy named Steve Jenne from Springfield, whose opening sentence in his self-written entry says it all: "I have become an involuntary collector of partially eaten sandwiches that were bitten into by celebrities."

The sandwiches are not on display for all to see, however, which normally would preclude it from a mention in a travel guide. (Taylor is reasonably sure that if you tracked down Jenne and asked to see the collection, he would oblige.)

But then Weird Illinois is not your average travel guide. It's really more coffee table book than anything. With its non-standard shape (square) and eye-catching cover, it's a book most browsers would immediately pick up and and give a look. Go ahead and bring it with you if you're taking a road trip and want to check out something in it, but don't look to it for directions or maps -- there aren't any.

"My goal is not to encourage people to trespass on private property or to go into a situation that might be dangerous," Taylor writes in the book's introduction. "That being said, for sites that are accessible to visitors, you need to get out there and see them before they disappear."

Here are a few things you can check out on your own during your next road trip -- or right in your own neighborhood.

Seven Gates of Hell: Along the backroads east of Collinsville, there are a series of bridges and tunnels. One of many legends states that if you drive through all the gates, you will be swept into the depths of hell.

Perplexing Petroglyphs in Fountain Bluff: More than 400 feet above the town of Gorham, these authentic petroglyphs (rock carvings) are not easily accessible (and can be hazardous), but if you make it up there, you'll find carvings believed to be symbols of a shaman's religious experience: handprints, animals, encircled crosses, moons, stars, etc.

The Circus Train Tragedy of Showmen's Rest: In 1918, en route to Hammond, Ind., the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus trains were slammed from behind by a speeding troop train. There were 80-plus deaths, and since no official records were ever kept in the traveling circus, identifying the dead was almost impossible. Many circus folks were drifters and only known to others as "4 Horse Driver" or "Baldy" -- and so it is reflected on their headstones in Forest Park's Woodlawn Cemetery.

Jubilee Rock Garden: Nestled a few miles outside Brimfield in central Illinois, a dairy farmer began creating a rock garden in the 1930s and finished it in the '60s when his wife died. The farmer welcomed visitors, but these days the current owners request that visitors view the white and rose quartz archway and garden from the highway.

Leaning Tower of Niles: Like the Superdawg weenies, this Touhy Avenue sight may not seem weird to Chicagoans, but you know what? It is weird. It's a half-scale replica of Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa, with a park built around the base and a European-style phone booth.

The Lincoln Watermelon Monument: The only city ever named for Abraham Lincoln constructed the monument -- not Lincoln's likeness but a slice of watermelon -- after the future 16th president poured out the juice from a watermelon to christen the ground in 1853.

Double-deck Outhouse: The Gays, Ill., oddity dates back to 1869 and still stands proudly for tourists to ponder: Who would ever use the first floor of such a thing?

Ghost Hollow Road: Just south of Quincy, this secluded drive winds through woods and bluffs, and passes near an abandoned rail line. Along the road supposedly sits an eerie, walled-off graveyard, though Weird Illinois could not find it. Also nearby are ancient Native American burial grounds, where some say they've heard different languages being chanted in the wind.

Eternal Silence: The eerie monument built for Chicago hotelier Dexter Graves is more commonly known as the Statue of Death, and sits in Graceland Cemetery, final resting place of many historic names of Chicago. It is said that if you look directly at the partially cloaked face, you will get a glimpse of your own death.

Vishnu Springs: Taylor's favorite spot in Weird Illinois sits hidden away in a valley along the La Moine River in McDonough County. Considered a place of peace and healing, the grounds became a health resort, complete with hotel, stores, a restaurant, a livery stable, blacksmith and photo gallery. One summer night in 1903, when the carousel's supervisor became tangled in the gears, children's cries of delight turned into screams of terror. It never ran again, and a series of other unfortunate events led to the demise of Vishnu Springs. By the 1920s, it was a ghost town. After several attempts to revitalize the property, it remains abandoned and the land's status a mystery. To find it, be prepared to walk a couple of miles through dense forest.

It gets weirder when the dress comes off


Vanna Whitewall didn't make the book, to author Troy Taylor's great disappointment, but she made this story.

"There was this great Uniroyal gal. She had a detachable dress; a miniskirt," said Taylor, speaking of a giant statue at a nondescript tire joint in downtown Peoria. "In the summer they take off her dress and she's wearing a bikini underneath."

That gal is Vanna Whitewall and I think I found her -- by accident, which, if you've been paying attention, is the whole point behind Taylor's "travel guide," Weird Illinois.

My 12-hour road trip, starting in downtown Chicago, began with a specific objective. The story of the Woodland Palace, which merits four pages in Weird Illinois, fascinated me to the point that I wanted to check it out for myself.

"The house is not at all what you expect," Taylor told me before my trip. "It's called Woodland Palace, you know? You expect some huge, grand thing and it's just this little house. It was so far ahead of its time. It really is the neatest place."

He wasn't kidding. Built on the outskirts of Kewanee in the late 1800s by an eccentric named Fred Francis, the house is a modern marvel in terms of engineering and technology.

The kindly caretaker, Cliff Furnald, a retired Kewanee cop, gave me my own private tour.

"Fred was an artist, a poet, inventor, builder, musician, engineer, vegetarian, physical culturist and nudist," Furnald explained.

The practice of physical culture steered Francis to such eccentricities as taking a hot bath once every winter, then going outside and rolling around on the ground so that the earth's minerals could be absorbed by his body. The only mode of transportation for Francis and his wife, Jeanie, was a bicycle, which you can see, and even touch, during the tour.

Furnald not only explained Francis' engineering wonders in great detail -- the fresh air cooling system, water purification system, ventilation system, the shower and sauna -- but also points out the small details. There are pieces of loose trim all over the house that when pulled out reveal little drawer-like hiding places. Etchings in the tin ceilings, cuttings in the limestone, delicately carved furniture and paintings on display all were the work of this onetime mechanical engineer for the Elgin Watch Company.

Weird Illinois does a good job of explaining the story of Fred Francis, but the live experience is worth the drive and worth loads more than the $2 admission fee.

When I asked Furnald to point me toward Peoria, he sent me through deep farm country, where there are no road signs.

"Go left, then right, across the road and past the railroad tracks. Then turn left and keep going until you run into the windmill farms," he said. "Now there's something weird for you."

"Weird" isn't quite the word I would use. "Otherworldly" is more like it. These "windmills" are straight out of a sci-fi film. With no traveling companion, no cars going by, no farmers, no sign of life anywhere, I started to reconsider my status as the only living human who doesn't own a cell phone.

After zigzagging my way out of the space-age farmisphere, I made it to Peoria, where, truth be told, I only wanted to visit to get my hands on a half-gondola (sub sandwich) from Avanti's.

Gondola in hand, I was heading out of town toward Decatur when a detour sent me a couple of miles out of the way through a desolate, industrial part of downtown, whereupon the gargantuan Vanna Whitewall, sans miniskirt, appeared before me as if Troy Taylor telepathically steered me there himself.

Again, I found myself alone -- no employees, no cars, no passersby to find out if it was really her. Just a camera to document my accidental find.

A weird but happy accident, indeed.


Aside from Weird Illinois, Taylor has written nearly three dozen books about ghosts, hauntings and Illinois history. He is also the editor of the unsolved mysteries magazine Ghosts of the Prairie. His Web site,, will direct you to these things, as well as provide a link to Taylor's Bump In the Night Tour Co., which sets up ghost tours all over the state.


# 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Barnes & Noble at DePaul, 1 E. Jackson.

# Noon Saturday, Barnes & Noble, 1701 E. Empire, Bloomington.

# 7 p.m. Saturday, Barnes & Noble, 6685 E. State St., Rockford.

# 7 p.m. June 17, Barnes & Noble, 65 E. Market View Dr., Champaign.

Troy Taylor has written loads of books - I have left out the more general ghost hunting books but you can dig around for more):

Haunted Illinois
by Troy A Taylor (1999) ... enantmc-20 ... ntmagaz-21

Haunted Chicago
by Troy Taylor ... enantmc-20

Haunted Decatur Revisited: Ghostly Tales from the Haunted Heart of Illinois
by Troy Taylor ... enantmc-20 ... ntmagaz-21

Haunted St. Louis: History & Hauntings Along the Mississippi
by Troy Taylor ... enantmc-20

Haunted Alton: History and Hauntings of the Riverbend Region
by Troy Taylor ... enantmc-20

Ghosts of Millikin: The History & Hauntings of Millikin University
by Troy Taylor ... enantmc-20

Ghosts Of Little Egypt : Ghosts and Hauntings in Southern Illinois
by Troy A Taylor ... enantmc-20

And some other books:

Oddball Illinois: A Guide to Some Really Strange Places
by Jerome Pohlen (2000) ... enantmc-20

Ghost Stories of Illinois
by Jo-Anne Christensen ... enantmc-20

I've also changed the Praire Ghosts URL in the article as it is wrong - the Weird Illinois book can be order (autographed) from:

They alos have a Haunted Illinois guide:


Gone But Not Forgotten
Sep 25, 2004
i live about 3 miles away from vishnu springs and have always heard about it but never gone there. My friend and i will probably take a hike there tomorrow, weather permitting. I will fill you in on any details in a short while.


Gone But Not Forgotten
Aug 18, 2002
sandlegs said:
i live about 3 miles away from vishnu springs and have always heard about it but never gone there. My friend and i will probably take a hike there tomorrow, weather permitting. I will fill you in on any details in a short while.
Excellent - I look forward to it :yeay:


Gone But Not Forgotten
Aug 18, 2002
'UFO Sightings of Illinois'

Tuesday, December 27, 2005 3:09 PM CST

Managing Editor

An Indiana man has published his own magazine entitled "UFO Sightings of Illinois" and is offering it for sale.

In a telephone interview last week, Phillip Dean said he has sent a copy of the 24-page, 8 1/2 by 11-inch magazine to every newspaper editor in the state.

"I've had a few answers back and I'll be starting on similar magazine covering Indiana, and from there I'll begin magazines focusing on UFOs in Kansas, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Florida, New York and the nation's capital, Washington D.C."

Dean said his fascination with unexplained flying objects started 45 years ago, when he saw an article in the Paris Beacon News.

"It was about something that happened out West - a sighting of some objects - and that started me collecting articles," Dean said. "A friend and I talked about UFOs for years, but I never took them seriously, though I always took it for granted that they existed.

"Of course, that led to ordering books and magazines from all over the country," he added. "As years go by, the material becomes almost like an addiction. My magazine came out this year. Getting started is the hard part, as anyone in this business can tell you. You got to first pay your dues. I've had some responses from newspaper editors south of here and north of here and in East St. Louis."

Dean said he has sold about 15 copies of his magazine so far. He said most of the articles reprinted in his magazine are from magazines and books printed 15 to 30 years ago.

Among the articles that interest him the most, one regards a sighting west of Paris, Ill., in which a jet plane is reportedly taken by bell-shaped object.

"The person that saw it was a down-to-earth person. His son was on the police force," Dean said. "It happened right on his farm and not all that far away. Then two Air Force men showed up and admitted they had lost a jet in that area but saw to it that nothing about it showed up in the newspapers. The same thing happened on south edge of Paris too, over an area called 'the Y' when a bell-shaped object took a small private plane right there."

Both of these incidents occurred in the late 1950s, Dean said.

He conducts almost all his own research by mail, Dean said, adding that he has also talked with several "actual eye witnesses."

The following are excerpts from the magazine:

Aledo, Illinois, July 24, 1978

"Mary and Robert Berglund and their 12-year-old granddaughter were driving home from Rock Island when they saw a big ball of fire in the western sky. Mrs. Berglund said that it kept getting bigger and redder. They said it appeared to land and seemed to be on fire."

Franklin Park, Illinois

June 17, 1979

"Fear of being ridiculed made the campers hesitate to immediately reveal the terrifying incident.

On May 28th, 24-year-old Camp Delaware counselor Ira Leifer led 13 boys on a hike up Blueberry Hill. The boys averaged in age from 13 to 15.

At 3:45, the group reached the top of the hill. Few trees obscured the sky. The day was sunny and hot.

Suddenly, a high-pitched whine was heard coming from above.

Startled, the campers looked up. A pulsating, metallic saucer, about 20 feet in diameter, was hovering 50 to 60 feet above the ground.

The UFO had a flat, shiny, reflective bottom, and its half-dome shape was topped by a smaller dome giving off a reddish glow.

The entire saucer was surrounded by a purplish mist, and the glowing red dome was revolving.

The total observation time was about 30 seconds. During this time, the saucer was completely silent. The campers stood in awe.

When the high-pitched sound was heard again, the saucer began to move. The boys screamed and ran for their lives, realizing the UFO was after them!

Then, just as it was about to grab them, it suddenly took off straight up.

Ira found it impossible to control the panic-stricken group. They all raced to the safety of the camp.

Afraid of being called crazy and irresponsible, the campers decided to keep the close encounter a secret. But after being assured by friends that UFO sightings should be reported to aid in their study, the campers bravely stepped forward and told the startling truth."

Moline, Illinois, March 9, 1967

"William Fisher, a patrolman of Moline police force, sighted and filmed a UFO, about 1:30 p.m. On the film it shows a glowing oval against a dark background."

Elmwood Park, Illinois Nov. 4, 1957

"Patrolman Joseph Lusasek, Patrolman Clifford Scahu and Fireman Robert Volt at 3:12 a.m. spotted an object about 250 feet in the air. They turned on the spotlight of their squad car on the object that was over Elmwood Cemetery and radioed Officer Daniel DeGiovanni who was on duty at Elmwood Park police station.

"The object was a bright red-orange color and appeared to be folding into itself. It shot up about 200 feet when the spotlight hit it. Also when the spotlight hit it the object puffed out. The object took off and was last seen at 3:22 a.m. DeGiovanni saw it before it disappeared. Before sight of it was lost, it appeared to fold inward from the bottom."

Near Havana, Ill. March 14, 1946

"Paul Cummings Jr. was driving from Canton to Lincoln, Illinois and was about 10 miles east of Havana when he saw a bright ball of orange in color. It appeared in the middle of the road about 1 mile ahead. Douglas Gowdy was with him. The object came toward them about one foot above pavement. It occupied the whole roadbed. Paul drove off the road and both men jumped out. No sound of heat."

Crop Circle

MILAN, Ill. (UPI) - Farmer James Lawson doesn't know what made the perfect 40 to 50 -foot circle in his cornfield and he isn't ready to accept it was a UFO.

"I was just making my first trip (on a combine) through the field," Lawson said. "The first thing I thought of was a UFO.

"I thought 'holy smokes, what is this?' "The corn stalks are flattened in neat rows and clockwise swirl, hidden from the nearest intersection but visible from inside the field.

"It feels weird. There's no road coming in, " said Lawson, 70. "It could've been here quite a while but the ears are still on the stalks. Maybe it's been a month or so."

Since 1980, more than 600 similar circles have been reported in Britain with 250 recorded in 1989. Crop circle reports have also come in from the Soviet Union, Japan and New England..."

Carbondale, Illinois Southern Illinoisan October 18, 1973

"It didn't make any noise," Downs said.

Interested persons may reach Dean by mail at Phil's Catalogue, P.O. Box 177 West Terre Haute, IN 47885. ... /news6.txt

Earlier reports:

Published on Thursday, June 2, 2005 10:14 PM CDT

Area man brings to light ‘UFO Sightings of Illinois'

By ROB STROUD, Staff Writer

PARIS -- Phillip Dean has researched sightings of unidentified flying objects ever since he glimpsed a long, luminescent object in the night sky south of his Paris hometown in 1960.

Dean has gathered reports of UFO sightings from throughout the country and is now sharing them with the general public. He recently published a UFO Sightings of Illinois booklet that includes sightings in Coles, Clark, Cumberland and Edgar counties.

Most of the sightings are recounted through newspaper articles, such as a United Press International article titled "Mattoon UFO" that was published on July 14, 1969, in the Paris Beacon News. This story includes eyewitness reports of a "bobbling star-like object" in the sky northwest of Mattoon.

Other sightings are recorded by Dean through personal interviews or through letters written to him, many of which are anonymous. These include a letter about a 1963 sighting of a flashing flying disc near Marshall and a recent sighting of a fast-moving object that glowed with white light above Charleston.

Dean said he hopes his mail-order booklet will get the the attention of others who have seen flying objects that they cannot easily explain. He said the reports of UFO sightings in various Illinois communities should be of interest to people who live in or near these areas.

"It's a good way to meet people who know a lot about the subject," Dean said. "When people are interested in something that happened in their area they are more likely to get in contact with you."

Dean, who describes himself as a laborer with a thirst for knowledge, ultimately hopes to publish booklets about sightings in other states.

Besides his 1960 sighting, Dean said he also saw a bright flying object that was emanating flames above Paris. Dean said he has been interested in such phenomena ever since, even making room in his current booklet for an article on The Mad Gasser of Mattoon.

In regard to UFOs, Dean said he has no doubt they exist. He said among the billions of planets there is bound to be intelligent life in the universe that can travel through space.

"We are just like a speck of sand here on Earth compared to that," Dean said of the universe.

James Conwell, a physics professor at Eastern Illinois University, said the odds are that there is other life in the universe. After all, he said there are an estimated 100 billion stars per galaxy and an estimated 100 billion galaxies in the universe.

"I think it's probably almost impossible not to have other life in the universe," Conwell said.

However, Conwell said the question of whether or not there is intelligent life out there that could travel across the universe is almost a sociological question. He speculated any alien race would have to survive the development of nuclear energy or other dangerous technologies before it could ever progress to the level of interstellar travel.

For more information on UFO Sightings of Illinois, write Phillip Dean at P. O. Box 177, West Terre Haute, Ind. 47885.


Gone But Not Forgotten
Aug 18, 2002
The Weird Illinois book is out and hrer is an article on it:

'Weird Illinois'

By William Lamb

Why spend cash on a trip to Italy when you can drive to Niles, Ill., home to a half-scale replica of the Tower of Pisa? Or plan a day trip to Gays, Ill., home of the state's only two-story outhouse?

Sure, a trip to the top of the Sears Tower is fun and a visit to the new Abraham Lincoln library in Springfield, Ill., can be an educational treat. But for off-the-beaten-path thrills in the Prairie State, there may be no better source than a new book by a former Alton resident appropriately titled "Weird Illinois."

The ersatz leaning tower and multitiered outhouse are among dozens of oddball attractions and strange tales collected by Troy Taylor, 38, in the 249-page book, which was released in April and sells for $19.95. Taylor, who moved to Decatur, Ill., from Alton in 1998, is the author of 37 books, most of them about ghosts, published through his own imprint, Whitechapel Press.

"Weird Illinois" evolved from "Weird New Jersey," which began in 1990 as a twice-yearly magazine published by Mark Moran and Mark Sceurman, former musicians from West Orange, N.J. A coffee table compendium of weird New Jersey attractions was published in 2003. "Weird U.S." followed in 2004.

"Weird Illinois" was the third book in a series that since has grown to include volumes on Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida and Wisconsin. "Weird California" and "Weird Georgia" are in the works, Moran said.

Taylor said he was first exposed to the "Weird New Jersey" newsletter several years ago during a visit to Philadelphia. He contacted Moran and Sceurman, who saw in Taylor a kindred spirit. They hired Taylor as a contributor to "Weird U.S." Later, when the pair began planning a series of "Weird" books about other states, their first phone call was to Taylor.

"He has such a vast wealth of knowledge and material under his belt," Moran said. "He has a wonderful Web site ( and he's such a great storyteller. He was just an obvious choice. He's like an encyclopedia."

Taylor's company, History and Hauntings, offers guided ghost tours in Decatur, Alton and Chicago. He said that Illinois was the logical second stop on the "Weird" tour of the United States.

"You can find weird stuff everywhere," he said, "but Illinois definitely has a lot of strange stuff."

His favorite story is the legend of the Mad Gasser of Mattoon, the mysterious figure responsible for a series of bizarre and unsolved gas attacks in that city in the summer and early fall of 1944.

Closer to home, the book makes obligatory pit stops at Cahokia Mounds and the Collinsville Catsup Bottle. Less predictably, Taylor offers a chapter on the giant rock painting of a menacing winged creature - the Piasa Bird - that adorns a bluff along the Great River Road north of Alton.

Of course Popeye makes a cameo, thanks to the 900-pound bronze statue of the famous cartoon sailor in Chester, Ill., the hometown of his creator, Elzie Crisler Segar.

Finally there are the so-called Seven Gates to Hell. Located along Lebanon Road east of downtown Collinsville, the gates actually are a series of aging railroad trestles that according to lore were once used by members of the Ku Klux Klan for lynchings. Legend has it that it is possible to reach hell by driving through all seven gates. Taylor says he tried.

"As you can surmise by the fact that this book has been written," Taylor writes, "we did not get sucked into the pit of hell from the back roads of Illinois that night."

The book:

Weird Illinois: Your Travel Guide to Illinois' Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets
by Troy Taylor ... ntmagaz-21 ... enantmc-20


Gone But Not Forgotten
Jun 26, 2005
Just some extra detail in the Piasa legend/ accounts...

From the dark recesses of history comes a legend so amazing and terrifying, it’s astonishing that more people don’t know of its existence.

If you live in the St. Louis area, chances are you are familiar with the legend; or may have heard bits and pieces of it here and there. As historians and scientists dig deeper into this legend, more becomes known about a monster from the past that called the St. Louis region its home, and may still call it home today.

Upon exploring the Mississippi River in 1673, Louis Joliet and Father Jacques Marquette noticed the strange likeness of a creature painted and sculpted on the side of the bluffs. The creature was described as “a large creature with horns like a deer, red eyes, a beard like a tiger, a face like a man, body covered with green, red, and black scales and a tail so long it passed around the body, over the head, and between the legs.” The painting depicted a dark secret that, up until now, only the Illinois Indians had known.

The Illini lived on the banks of the confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, surrounded by forests and tall bluffs. The location is now home to the city of Alton, IL. The Chief of this village met with Joliet and Marquette and, when asked, reluctantly told the explorers the two hundred year old tale of the beast they now called the “Piasa Bird” which meant “bird that devours men”.

One night, several braves had returned to the village with a terrifying tale of a monstrous beast that had attacked their scouting party. They explained that the flying monster had swooped from the sky and picked up men and carried them off into the night. Their arrows had merely deflected off of its tough scales as they tried to defend themselves.

For several weeks the village suffered as the creature they were now calling “Piasa” attacked at night, carrying off a victim each time to an unseen fate. The Illini turned to their chief, Ouatoga, to rid them of this menace. After conversing with the Great Spirits, Ouatoga devised a plan. He believed that the creature would be vulnerable under its wings, where the scales did not protect. He had his warriors hide in the forest with poison-tipped arrows, while he offered himself as bait. The Piasa Bird appeared and went directly for the chief. He threw himself to the ground and held on to a tree root as the Piasa Bird tried to carry him off. Immediately, his warriors emerged and shot their arrows into the soft underbelly of the creature. In a scream of agony, it tumbled over the side of the bluffs and disappeared into the river.

In honor of this great victory, they painted the image of the Piasa Bird on the face of the bluffs. Believing that the Piasa Bird had lived in a large cave that was nearby, they warned all villagers to stay away from the cave, as they did not want to awaken any more of these evil spirits. In two hundred years, they had not encountered another menace like this.

Joliet and Marquette scoffed at this tale, attributing it to silly Indian folklore. However, they were both explorers who had spent a great deal of time discovering and documenting new species they encountered in their journeys west. Despite the chief’s warnings, they decided to explore the cave and see if they could find some evidence of this strange species.

They amassed a party of white settlers and an Illini scout named Pow-Ka-Ha-Toh (Sees in the Darkness) who was well known to the villagers as being able to see in the night as if it were daylight. They entered the cave and, armed with torches and muskets, began to work their way into the bluffs. As they explored deeper into the cave, they began to feel the crunch of bones underneath their feet. Further examination revealed them to be the bones of many different animals, some they even believed to be human remains.

Suddenly, a mist and wind swept through the cave, extinguishing their torches. In the darkness they began to hear loud shrieks and screams. Pow-Ka-Ha-Toh told Joliet that he saw many reptilian creatures, about the size of eagles, swarming towards them. Behind these creatures, he saw an enormous reptilian monster and declared it to be the “Piasa Bird”. The party fired a volley into the darkness from their muskets, and then fled towards the mouth of the cave. There was panic and confusion as the men struggled to reach the cave opening; meanwhile screams of men filled the air and were abruptly silenced. Joliet, Marquette, Pow-Ka-Ha-Toh, and one other settler were the only ones to make it out of the cave.

They returned to the village and Pow-Ka-Ha-Toh told the chief what had happened. The chief, angered that they had awakened the evil spirits, forced them to leave the village. Joliet and Marquette returned to the nearby French outpost of St. Louis and amassed an army of traders, soldiers, and able bodies to help them eliminate what they saw as a threat to trade and settlement opportunities in the region. When they returned to the village, they found it destroyed and deserted. They heard cries and screams in the distance.

A few minutes later, they noticed a dark mass approaching in the northern sky. Hundreds of winged creatures, followed by the enormous Piasa Bird, were descending upon them. The soldiers began firing their muskets, cannons, and ship-mounted artillery into the mass. The creatures began to fall from the sky as they were struck by the ordinance, but still on the mass of creatures came. The solders, with Joliet and Marquette at the lead, fought a pitched battle with the creatures as men and equipment were picked up and thrown about. Bodies were torn apart as the Piasa Bird and its minions swarmed the soldiers.

Slowly the soldiers began to drive the creatures back towards the bluff using torches and bonfires. The creatures appeared to fear the heat of the flames. Several other boats had arrived with more soldiers and weapons to reinforce the makeshift army and join the battle. Under Joliet’s direction, the soldiers fought to force the monsters towards the bluffs and back into the cave where they had discovered them. Joliet figured that he could trap the creatures inside the cave and then seal it shut. Once the creatures were driven back into the cave, fires were set all around the mouth of the cave to keep them at bay. Cannoneers came forward and blasted the cliff face with a volley of cannonballs, creating an avalanche of rock and debris, effectively sealing the cave.

Upon their return to St. Louis, Joliet and Marquette reported to the governor what had transpired. They agreed that the menace had surely been destroyed and, in the interest of protecting their profits and interests in this new land, decided to keep the story of the Piasa Bird and its kin quiet. Naturally, the story did not stay a secret long. Survivors of the battle spun their tales, and even Marquette’s own journal sported some illustrations of the beast he had first seen painted on the bluffs. Most settlers, however, believed it to be a tall tale, concocted by glory seeking soldiers and crazy Indians and felt no fear in venturing into the region. As years passed, settlers built settlements and outposts all along the river and built the city of Alton where the old Illini village had been. The Piasa Bird and its kin were never seen or reported again. The original painting on the rocks of the Piasa Bird was left there as an amusement for travelers, until it was destroyed during excavation of the bluffs.

Today, historians and scientists seek to unravel the mysteries surrounding these great and terrible creatures. They search to find the line of what is myth and what is reality. Were these creatures dinosaur-like leftovers from a prehistoric time? Were they a new species altogether? Were they large birds given incredible powers by the imaginations of the Indians and early settlers?

Historians find new clues and evidence all of the time, and soon we may know the truth. They have fought to keep the legend alive and have continued to keep a large painting of the Piasa Bird on the bluffs, as an homage to the brave warriors of the past, and in the hopes of new found evidence for the future. But as people turn up missing in the bluffs, and mysterious disappearances on the river mount every year; more people are beginning to believe that the “Piasa Bird”, or its descendants, still dwell in The Great River Bend.

Article Written By: Kevin DuCommun ... ird_legend


Justified & Ancient
Jan 28, 2002
i live about 3 miles away from vishnu springs and have always heard about it but never gone there. My friend and i will probably take a hike there tomorrow, weather permitting. I will fill you in on any details in a short while.
......and he was never heard from again. :eek:

I posted this in the wrong place way back. Should have been in ghosts but it works as a general weird Illinois thread.