Monthly Archives: October 2014

Eerie Haunts in Alton, Illinois

If you read my last post, I mentioned I was going to recount my spine-tingling journey through the streets of Alton, Illinois, so here I go.  Even though Alton is not the largest town, they sure had their fair share of ghostly haunts.  So, in keeping with the spirit of Halloween, I’ll post a ghost story per day, until All Hallows’ Eve.

Now, I wouldn’t say I’m a believer or non-believer in ghosts or spirits, but sometimes it just feels like there is someone there that isn’t. Like when you are downstairs and see a shadow pass along the top of the staircase, or you pass by a bedroom, and out of the corner of your eye, you swear you see a shadow or movement.  It’s sometimes just an eerie presence when you walk into an old house. I’m not saying those are ghosts, but maybe just weird energy.

I felt a lot of this strange energy while on the Alton Haunted Odyssey Tour. The tour began on the second floor of My Just Desserts, the restaurant we had had lunch at earlier in the day. The building is quite historical itself; it was once a law firm for which Abe Lincoln was an attorney.

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The upstairs reminded me of a dusty old attic. It was almost pitch black, except for the faint moonlight shining in, and the one light hanging from the ceiling. We joined the group by sitting in the empty chairs, forming a circle around a single table. I kept thinking, when is the séance going to begin?

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After briefing us on what we might experience during the tour, our ghost guide passed out EMF (electromagnetic field) meters and dowsing rods to a handful of people in the group.  They say when the dowsing rods cross, there is a spirit in front of you. Seeing the meters light up and the rods cross, in certain spots, was beginning to spook me. Then again, I am that person who is afraid of her own shadow sometimes.

Once everyone was ready, we made our way down to the trolley. Before making our first stop, we rode along the streets of town, as our ghost guide told us stories of the area.

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Then the time came…time to get up close and personal with ghosts. First stop, Jacoby Arts Center. Nothing too scary when we first walked in, just an everyday art gallery, but the fun part began when we went upstairs.  This building was once used as a mortuary, so of course it is haunted.

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Why does it always have to be so dark? I’m afraid of the dark…I am, and I’m not afraid to admit that. I stayed pretty close to the group and didn’t wander too far from the people I knew (even if they were trying to scare me).  After walking around a bit, with my eyes slightly closed, we all huddled in a corner.  We were told to turn off any lights we may have.  This is the moment my eyes closed.  I go on ghost tours, but then I am the person who closes their eyes the moment the lights go out.  Our ghost guide told us he could feel a spirit next to him, and asked volunteers to come feel the space around him.

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“Oh, it feels cold” I heard one woman say.  I was perfectly content staying back and letting others experience the cold sensation.  I get enough cold air in my office.

On to the next ghostly experience…the pendulum.  We gathered on the opposite side of the large upstairs space, as our ghost guide sat at a table and began to “speak” to a spirit.  He would ask the “spirit” questions, causing the pendulum to swing.  The direction it swung would signify “yes” or “no” responses.  I was a little skeptical.  He could have easily been moving the pendulum back and forth, but then he asked for someone from our group to hold the stone and ask questions.  At one point, when the death of a child and a pregnancy were mentioned, the pendulum began to swing with such force.  I could tell by the volunteer’s face that she herself was freaking out.  There was that eerie feeling.

Final stop at the Jacoby Arts Center was the basement.  Basements always freak me out.  Maybe it is because we don’t have them in Florida. Again, it was an empty space, currently being used for storage. To be honest, I was more afraid of stumbling over old boxes than the actual dark.  The only spooky thing about the basement was the creepy elevator light that seemed to go on and off when I would take photos.

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That wasn’t the end of the adventure…not even close.  When was the last time you were lost in a cemetery in the middle of the night.  Yeah, that was a fun experience.  Stay tuned…

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Hakuna Matata, Not so Worry Free

Just in time for the Halloween season, I thought I would share my ghostly experiences in Alton, Illinois.

During this time of year, there are a variety of ghost tour options. I was able to experience two different tours; a river cruise down the Mississippi River and a Trolley Tour through the historic city streets.

I would recommend either of these options for those history buffs out there.  The river cruise is a relaxing way to learn about the history of Alton, mixed with some scary tales from years past.  While, the river cruise does recount some terrifying events through history, it is a little less spooky than the trolley tour.

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Our journey on the Hakuna Matata began shortly after nightfall. Normally, Hakuna Matata means ‘no worries’ but this was a ghost tour, so obviously I was worried about the spirits.

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We passed beneath the Clark Bridge and the stories began.

We sailed by the spot where Elijah Lovejoy, a newspaper editor, was murdered by a pro-slavery mob.  The mob attacked his warehouse to destroy his press and abolitionist materials.  A monument was dedicated in his honor; it is the tallest manmade monument in the state of Illinois.

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We then passed the mural of the Piasa.

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The mural was said to be painted on the limestone bluffs by Native Americans, and is a local legend in the Alton area.  The Piasa is a haunting bird-like, monster that is hard to miss as you drive down Great River Road.

It was interesting to hear of the Native American history in the area and along the bluffs.

Centuries later, Alton became haunted by the Civil War.  In 1830, the first Illinois State Penitentiary was built and housed confederate soldiers.  The prison was said to be plagued by overcrowding and disease.

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Smallpox infected many of the prisoners, so to prevent the spread, many prisoners were taken across the river to ‘smallpox island,’ where many of them died.

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This is the same island where Abraham Lincoln was challenged to a duel by James Shields.  Shields eventually backed out when he realized Lincoln had the better advantage, due to his height.

The river cruise provided a nice overview of the area’s history.  Join me on my next adventure, a spine-tingling ghost hunt through Alton.

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National Pumpkin Day

Halloween is right around the corner, so you know what that means…

IMG_2251Time to carve pumpkins.

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Keep in mind, this is only my second time carving pumpkins, so I was pretty excited 🙂

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