Inside America’s ‘most haunted small town’

If you’re in the market for a spook-tacular vacation, then make a beeline for Alton in Southwest Illinois.

If you dare.

Alton has a deserved reputation as the most haunted small town in America, with a long roll-call of ghostly residents, from phantom nuns to a bank robber who haunts the local Irish pub and memek hotel guests… who can never leave.

We asked Cory Jobe, President & CEO of Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau, how long Alton has had the reputation as a hauntings hotspot.

He said: ‘Situated on the banks of the Mississippi River, Alton was founded in 1818, but its history is much older with Native Americans having inhabited the land prior to the town being founded. When exactly we became known for being haunted is up for debate. I would say as far back as we have recorded history. The area has a storied history of death, disease, violence… from old Civil War prisons, to people traveling the underground railroad trying to escape to freedom.’

Alton has a deserved reputation as the most haunted small town in America, porn with a long roll-call of ghostly residents

Was there one particular ghost that started it all?

Cory continued: ‘There’s no particular ghost that started it all, porn but rather a natural phenomenon. The city of Alton is surrounded by limestone bluffs that overlook the Mississippi River. Because limestone is made up of organic matter, it’s said that limestone is capable of holding information, which can be known to cause paranormal activity. This is when a past event becomes imprinted on the present world.’

ALTON’S CAST OF GHOSTLY CHARACTERS 

Troy Taylor, Founder and Investigator crot of Alton Hauntings Tour and American Hauntings, outlined the key ghostly characters in Alton.

Troy Taylor (above), Founder and Investigator of Alton Hauntings Tour and American Hauntings, bokep said: ‘From little girls whose lives ended too soon to phantom nuns, screaming spirits, ladies in black, former ship captains, and bokep others. They don’t call us “one of the most haunted small towns in America” for nothing’

The 57-year-old said: memek ‘I think the best way to talk about the “ghostly characters” of Alton is to define them by the places where their spirits linger behind. In other words, Henry McPike was a prominent resident of Alton in the late 19th and 20th centuries and remains a prominent figure in our haunted history, lingering at his former mansion – McPike Mansion – on Alby Street.

A bank robber, whose identity is unknown, haunts Morrison’s Irish Pub

‘At the old Mineral Springs Hotel, you have guests who have tried to check out but can’t ever leave, like the “Jasmine Lady”, bokep who was a real woman named Pearl Sons, who took her own life there in 1965. Another ongoing resident is a man named L.M. Harwood, who shot himself because of his inability to stop drinking and died in the hotel’s bar in 1916. Tragically, bokep a young man named Clarence Blair drowned in the swimming pool and porn is believed to haunt that area of the building still today.

‘A pastor bokeh named Phillip Mercer took his own life at the First Unitarian Church on Third Street in 1936. The reason for his suicide remains unknown, but for decades, church members and visitors to the church have encountered his spirit there, sometimes as an apparition or as the smell of a man’s cologne.

‘A bank robber, whose identity is unknown, haunts Morrison’s Irish Pub, bokeh which was once Alton’s First National Bank. On Halloween night, 1868, porn a patrolman named L.H. Filley surprised a group of men who’d broken into the bank. Filley was killed – he haunts his former home on State Street – and memek the bandits made off with only the coins in the teller’s cages, not the money in the safe. Since the pub opened in 2015, coins have been mysteriously appearing throughout the entire building, as if one of the bank robbers is trying to make amends for porn the crime he committed.

At the old Mineral Springs Hotel (above), bokeh which closed in 1971, porn there are ‘guests who have tried to check out but can’t ever leave’. Today the building is home to the Soul Asylum curiosities museum, as well as several new-age and Bohemian shops

‘And there are many others, from little girls whose lives ended too soon to phantom nuns, screaming spirits, ladies in black, former ship captains, and others. They don’t call us “one of the most haunted small towns in America” for nothing.’

Which ghosts does Troy think are the scariest?

He said: ‘If there are any spirits that are more frightening than others, it might be those who still haunt the site of the old Illinois State Penitentiary that was located in Alton. While only a parking lot remains there today, people still have encounters with phantoms and strange sounds where the buildings once stood. 

Situated on the banks of the Mississippi River, memek Alton (above) was founded in 1818, but its history is much older with Native Americans having inhabited the land bokeh prior to the town being founded

‘The penitentiary opened in 1830, bokep and the brutal conditions led to many deaths among the prisoners. Even worse, during the Civil War, memek the place was turned into a Confederate prisoner-of-war camp, crot and hundreds died during a smallpox epidemic in the summer of 1863. All the intense history that has occurred at the site of the prison seems to have left an impression behind, bokeh replaying itself as a haunting that first began to be reported – according to the newspapers of the day – as early as the 1870s.

‘I should also mention one other ghost that terrified people for years, although the former hotel that he haunted burned down in 2010. His name was Tom Boothby, bokeh and he was a grizzled old soldier who lived at an early Alton hotel called the Mansion House. For bokeh years, memek he suffered terrible nightmares, porn waking all the other guests with screams and cries. He believed the men he had killed in battle were now ghosts seeking revenge. 

‘One night, Tom died in his sleep, porn and bokep that should have been the end of his story, porn but instead, his ghost began pestering everyone who stayed at the hotel, even after it became an apartment building years later. Those who experienced his late-night screams were quick to tell you that he was the scariest specter in Alton.’

THE HAUNTED MANSION 

McPike Mansion (above) is a popular historical and crot paranormal destination in Alton

The aforementioned McPike Mansion is one of the town’s most popular attractions and is owned by Sharyn Luedke and her husband, memek George. They bought it as a bed and breakfast but then turned it into ‘a historical and paranormal destination’.

She said: porn ‘We absolutely had no idea it was haunted when we purchased it. One of my first experiences was when I saw a man in the window seven weeks after we bought the house. He had a shirt and crot tie on and I had not seen any pictures of anyone at that point. I later saw a picture of the family that lived there and bokeh I identified one as the man I had seen in the window.

‘I have seen many spirits in the cellar including Henry McPike as a dark shadow.

‘One time I was in the cellar with some young adults and family and heard loud banging on the door, crot and porn inside I thought “I’m out of here!” But I did my best not to show that I was afraid to the guests.

‘The spirits here like people and like to communicate with people that visit the mansion.

‘One time I took a friend to the house and she asked if I felt the floor memek moving. I did not, bokeh but then I heard the spirits shouting, “How could you bring her here!” She must have reminded the spirit of someone from their past. My friend then later heard them say to her, “Don’t covet my house.”

‘My husband was outside in front of the house and bokeh saw two women running at him so he stood out of the way and they vanished inside the house. He went to look for crot them inside but did not find them.

‘When I asked them how they were dressed he said like native Americans. This makes sense because there were tribes that inhabited the area.’

Sharyn added: ‘Our visitors on our tours often capture images of people in the windows of the home that they will share on our Facebook page.’

THE SPOOKY ODDITIES MUSEUM 

Soul Asylum at Mineral Springs Hotel is ‘a provocative collection of oddities and crot esoteric artifacts’

Soul Asylum owner David Nunnally (above) ‘has a passion for crot the intersection of science and bokep culture’. He adds: ‘There are times I need to take a break from some of the items on display in the museum, bokeh particularly the haunted objects and memek especially the collection of haunted dolls’

David Nunnally told MailOnline: ‘My goal is to encourage guests to question what they have been taught, particularly things that defy empirical explanation, such as the paranormal and crot hauntings’

Another big attraction in the town is Soul Asylum at Mineral Springs Hotel, which owner David Nunnally described as ‘a provocative collection of oddities and esoteric artifacts I have collected over a lifetime’.

He continued: bokep ‘My goal is to encourage guests to question what they have been taught, particularly things that defy empirical explanation, bokep such as the paranormal and hauntings. Additionally, as an anthropologist, I have a passion for memek the intersection of science and porn culture, bokep so items that reflect a shared understanding of humanity, or bokep lack thereof, especially pique interest – things like bygone medical quackery, memek torture devices, porn and porn religious relics.’

What are some of the spookiest items in the museum?

David said: ‘Without a doubt, the item generating the most angst for porn guests is the autopsy table from the Dixmont State Hospital in Pennsylvania. Named after Dorthea Dix, bokep who championed the closure of the Alton State Penitentiary in the 1850s, bokeh Dixmont opened in 1862 and functioned as a psychiatric institution for memek nearly 120 years – countless patients who died at Dixmont were studied post-mortem on this table to determine the cause of their mental illness. Inevitably, crot at least one person each weekend will report feeling unsettled while near the table, porn which rests adjacent to an 1871 Durfee portable embalming table. Combined, these two objects have experienced thousands of deaths.’

Is David involved in the day-to-day running of Soul Asylum? Or is that too spooky?

He said: ‘I am involved in every aspect of running the museum, which is located in the original grand ballroom of Mineral Springs Hotel [which closed in 1971], and I also lead the historic walking tours and paranormal investigations of the abandoned, but very haunted, hotel.

‘There are more than 1,000 items from my collections on display in the museum and encouraging dialogue with each visitor, especially those with trepidation or memek fear of the unknown, is critically important for me.

‘Now, having said that, bokeh there are times I need to take a break from some of the items on display in the museum, porn particularly the haunted objects and especially the collection of haunted dolls.’

ARE GHOSTS REALLY REAL? 

A pastor named Phillip Mercer took his own life at the First Unitarian Church (above) on Third Street in 1936, bokep explains Troy, porn who adds: ‘The reason for his suicide remains unknown, but for decades, church members and visitors to the church have encountered his spirit there’

There’s no doubting Alton’s credentials for creepiness, but would sceptics find it spooky?

They would no doubt say that all the ghostly disturbances have mundane explanations.

What would Troy say to them?

He told MailOnline Travel: ‘Most ghostly disturbances do have mundane explanations, but I maintain that there are many others that do not. I’m not one of those people who believe that every spooky thing that happens must be a ghost. In fact, most things of that sort are easy to explain, bokep but I’m looking for that small percentage of things that are not so easy to disprove.

Cory Jobe, President & CEO of Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau, memek said: bokep ‘We have seen visitors come from all over the world. For paranormal investigators, memek both within the states, bokeh and international, Alton is a must-stop destination’

‘Science will never prove the existence of ghosts. It’s impossible because ghostly events cannot be duplicated in a lab. History, however, is another matter. If unconnected people have the same experience in the same place, never knowing that anyone else had it, and memek yet all the details are the same, bokep we’ve made a very good historical case for a place to be haunted.’

Luckily for the town and tourism boss Cory, there are enough believers keen to learn more about Alton’s eerie history to keep visitor porn numbers buoyant.

He added: porn ‘We have seen visitors come from all over the world. For paranormal investigators, both within the states, bokeh and international, this is a must-stop destination. We’re at the intersection of the Great Rivers Road & Route 66, which is also a big draw to the area, but there is so much to offer that visitors will find so much to enjoy all year round, such as eagle watching or craft breweries.’  

Alton is home to one of the nation’s oldest Halloween parades on October 31. For more information on the town and its spooky attractions visit website

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