My friend Amber was kind enough to join me on a very cold night!
Alton, IL is considered one of the most haunted small towns in America. I wouldn't say that I'm a believer or a non-believer when it comes to ghosts and the like. But I will tell you I find the topic quite fascinating. I'm always watching those shows on cable that talk about the nation's most haunted places, or chronicle real-life (supposed) hauntings, or document a paranormal investigation. I've never had an "experience." I hear some people are more susceptible or sensitive to this kind of thing. I guess I'm not. Maybe that's why I couldn't be hypnotized at a comedy show once. But I digress.
Troy Taylor has written a book called Haunted Alton, amongst lots of other ghostly writings. He has also created an Alton Hauntings tour that I attended Monday night. This is not a haunted house kind of thing. This is a walking tour of alleged haunted locations. No one is going to jump out at you and try to scare you. It's much more historical in nature. Lots of stories are told. Factual as well as local legend.
My friend Amber and I met up with the tour group at the History and Hauntings Bookstore where tour leader Len Adams gave an introduction.
Our first stop was the Enos Apartment Building. This former mansion was designed originally as part of the underground railroad. The tunnels underneath still exist and we were able to go inside. The building later became a tubercolis hospital where hundreds died. There have been numerous unexplained occurrences here. Things like doors opening and closing, lights behaving erratically and everyday objects disappearing and reappearing in different locations.
In the underground railroad tunnel. Note the white dot near Amber's shoulder. Paranormal orb or dust? Hmmmm.
There were numerous places we stopped along the way and were told stories about what happened there and the like. You can read about many of these locations and incidents on the tour website.
Another interesting stop was the old state penitentiary. It was also a Confederate prison for a time. Conditions were deporable and hundreds (maybe thousands) died, mostly from tuberculosis and smallpox.
All that remains is one corner of the prison wall and underneath my feet remain the bodies of hundreds of prisoners that died during their time here.
The area near the prison became a park for a while and eventually the abandoned prison was demolished for casino parking. There are numerous reports of hauntings here. Witnesses report seeing apparitions of men and soldiers just appear and then disappear.
Our final stop of the night was at the First Unitarian Church. In the 1930s the pastor apparently hung himself in the church. Many say he's still there.
The church sanctuary
In all, the tour lasted about 3 hours. While they are sold out for the Halloween season, tours are conducted at other times of the year as well. I found it all quite fascinating, although again, I had no "experiences". The group also offers overnight ghost hunts to haunted locations around the region and in some cases these overnights are actual investigations. I'm hoping to take part in one of these in the future. You know if I do, you can read all about it here!
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