Top 5 Scariest Places to Visit This Halloween

Now that it is the month of October and with Halloween approaching, haunted houses filled with fake zombies and dropping skeletons are opening to the public. But what about the all year-round locations that have claims of hauntings? Considering the local clown outbreaks in Chicago, the normal, everyday parks may seem the most terrifying to some people. But here are a few examples of some of the most noteworthy real-life horror locations in Illinois.

1 Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery in Midlothian, IL —> Among the Rubio Woods lies one of the most haunted cemeteries in Illinois; maybe even one of the most haunted cemeteries in the United States as argued by history lovers and ghost fanatics. Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery first burial was Eliza Scott in November of 1844, before the Civil War. Newspaper reports have also stated earlier burials held at Bachelor’s Grove. In 1935, the Blue Island Sun Standard published that William B. Nobles was buried in Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery in 1835. However, Bachelor’s Grove wasn’t legally considered a graveyard until records of the cemetery came to light, after the property was taken over by Frederick Schmidt in 1864. 

Since the 1960s, Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery has been closed to car traffic; making it even more terrifying that the only way to roam around this graveyard is by foot. Locals over many generations report sitings of phantom cars, ghosts, glowing floating orbs; and more notably, legends of a ghost known as Madonna of Bachelor’s Grove, the Caretaker who supposedly lived on the grounds killed his family; the Hook Man, the farmer and the horse who supposedly drowned in the Bachelor’s Grove pond, the phantom dog, etc. There has also been factual evidence present of satanic rituals and grave openings/robbings at Batchelor’s Grove since the 1960s. 

2 Peoria State Hospital in Bartonville, IL —> Peoria State Hospital, formerly known as the Illinois Asylum for the Incurable Insane, was active between 1902 to 1973. Because the hospital shut down in the early 70s, there isn’t too much factual information accessible online about the history of the establishment. Many reports, including the leading Doctor Dr. George A. Zeller of Peoria State Hospital, speaks of strange occurrences inside the hospital during its time of operation. One of the incidents being in 1910, when a patient by the name of Manual Bookbinder passed away. At Bookbinder’s funeral, numerous witnesses in the crowd, including Dr. Zeller, reported seeing Bookbinder’s ghost standing near a tree. According to Dr. Zeller, the funeral procession had to open the casket to verify that Manual Bookbinder, or Old Book as they called him, was in fact still inside his coffin.

3 Benedictine University in Lisle, IL —> Benedictine University, formerly known as St. Procopius College, was established by the Benedictine monks in 1887. The University’s nearby wooded area, along with Lake Saint Benedict and the college’s local cemetery emphasize the creepy feel of the campus. Ursula Bielski is a former Benedictine University student, historian, author, and founder of Chicago Hauntings Inc.; Bielski has strong credibility as the leading figure in the Chicagoland’s folk lore. According to Bielski, numerous students even tried to contact a ghost/spirit through the use of a ouija board. Reports of rumored exorcisms, alleged deaths on campus, and other supposedly strange occurrences have led some to believe that ghosts roam the campus of Benedictine University. 

4 Joliet Correctional Center in Joliet, IL —> For nearly 150 years, Joliet Correction Center was home for small-scale criminals to noteworthy killers; including the infamous serial killer John Wayne Gacy. Gacy was sent to Joliet Correctional Center before being transferred to Stateville Correctional Center. The prison first originated in 1858 as a replacement for Alton, Illinois’ first ever state prison. Over time, Joliet Correctional Center became one of the nation’s largest prisons. The prison closed from needed cut backs in the corrections budget. But is the abandoned prison really haunted by supposed stories of ghosts; or is it the fact that it is an abandoned prison that people create these folklores? 

5 Iroquois Theater and Death Alley in Chicago, IL —> On December 30th, 1903,  the Iroquois Theater burned to the ground after a lighting issue turned out of control. During the night of the fire, about 2,000 people sat inside to watch the musical “Mr. Blue Beard.” That December night, over 600 people died as the fire continued to blaze. The new building that stands in the Iroquois Theater’s place is the Oriental Theater. Some people have claimed to hear screaming and other strange noises inside the theater; others have told stories that exist in the alley behind the theater, which is known as Death Alley. Some have said to have seen the ghosts of those who died in the Iroquois Theater fire over 100 years ago, lingering in the alley. 

Do you agree with our list? Are strange, supernatural elements lurking in these supposedly haunted hotspots, or are these just stories of legend and folklore? Many of us might just have to visit these places to decide for ourselves what horror lies behind these stories. 

Lauren Peterson