Ghoulish Stories From The Illinois Backcountry
We all enjoy a good unsolved mystery. You know our website for its rich historical information coupled with advice on where to go and what to do — especially if you’re a frequent traveler. But every once in a while we can’t help but contradict ourselves by reliving those unsolved mysteries, and giving people a good reason not to come! Here are the creepiest ghost stories and paranormal legends in our fine state.
Those familiar with the Devil’s Backbone near Grand Tower might know of the ghostly activity. The legends actually arose from Native American storytellings, but they continued even after the indigenous tribes were pushed from their homes — albeit with a somewhat altered narrative. According to the story, a wedding party was drowned in the nearby river. But a woman named Esmerelda lived there when a terrible accident resulted in her lover’s death. She committed suicide. The stories say she now materializes frequently as mist. Keep a watch during thunderstorms and you just might hear her screams.
Dead Man’s Hollow in Pittsburgh doesn’t have anything on Crenshaw House. First named Hickory Hill, but called the Old Slave House, there were rumors that it was a “dark” underground railroad. Students of American history will know the original Underground Railroad was responsible for freeing slaves. But this one was used to capture free Black men and put them up for sale to the highest bidder. How many people were killed during this illegal, immoral trade? We don’t know, but we do know this: visitors to the Crenshaw House routinely hear moaning from the attic.
Ever hear of the Big Muddy Monster? Police investigated the scene of a monster scare near Big Muddy River on June 26, 1973 — only to hear screaming. Two teens reported another sighting one night later in Westwood Hills. A K9 was tasked with finding the source, but refused to enter the barn where the scent trails originated. Sightings frequently occurred until 1988, when they suddenly came to a stop.
The Rose Hotel is the oldest in the state of Illinois, and remains open as a B&B. The ghost of Sarah Rose — the original owner — is said to wander the halls of the hotel at night, whispering. Guests say that items in the hallways have mysteriously moved overnight. Guests have been witnessing Rose for decades.
Ever been to Cave-In-Rock State Park? The cave was originally home to outlaws from the late 1700s to the late 1800s. According to the oral history of the park, those using the river during this time would often be killed by the scum. Legend also suggests that there might be buried treasure somewhere on site — but surely someone would have found it by now, right?