Most Haunted Places in Southern Illinois


The southern Illinois region is rich with history, and with that history also comes chilling tales of haunting ghosts and unexplained phenomena. With stories of slave traders and deadly river pirates, the tales associated with these haunted locales in southern Illinois are sure to send chills down your spine.

The Old Slave House
Located in Equality, Ill., the Old Slave House (also known as the Crenshaw House by locals) was an infamous stop on the Reverse Underground Railroad. The home earned distinction as a historical marker by the National Parks Service because its original owner, John Crenshaw, used his dwelling as a waystation for the southern slave trade.

While the stately home looks peaceful from the outside, the torture chamber and cells constructed in its attic demonstrate the horror that took place there many years ago. The home served as a tourist attraction for decades before closing in 2002.

Hundreds of ghost hunters have toured the historic home. In addition to reports of ghostly sounds, hunters have professed to seeing shadowy shapes and feeling areas of extreme cold.

Devil's Bake Oven
Legends of paranormal activity in the area of Devil's Bake Oven and nearby Devil's Backbone have been circulating since Native Americans called the area home. The rocky ridge along the Mississippi River near Grand Tower, Ill., has been a deadly spot in the waterway for decades.

The most infamous ghost to haunt the area is known as Esmerelda, who is said to have leaped to her death from the rocky cliff after her lover was killed. Passersby have reported hearing moans and wails, as well as viewing a mist in the form of a young woman.

DCI Biologicals
Housed in the former Carbondale, Ill., post office, staff members at DCI Biologicals have reported numerous ghostly encounters while working in the old building.

In addition to noticing doors opening by themselves and radios turning on and off, employees have reported seeing a white form appearing inside the building. A janitor was said to have been trapped in a closet when the door shut and locked on its own, and employees have reported hearing a phone ringing in the basement, where no phones are currently connected.

Choate Mental Health Center
Originally named the Southern Illinois Hospital for the Insane, Choate Mental Health Center has been the subject of many haunted tales in the region. Since the hospital opened in 1875, it has been plagued by two devastating fires.

Patients and guests have reported seeing apparitions in the windows of the large facility. And tales of haunting continue to the tunnels beneath the hospital where an employee reportedly felt a presence in the tunnel with him while he was alone.

Cave-in-Rock
This ancient cave on the banks of the Ohio River was once a hotbed of illegal activity. The deep, dark cave was a notorious hiding spot for river pirates and counterfeiters in the late 1700s. During that time, pirates were said to have lured travelers into Cave-in-Rock, only to murder them and steal their belongings.

Local lore also says that the Harpe Brothers, who were rumored to have killed almost 40 people, took refuge in the cave while fleeing execution. And the infamous Mason gang reportedly stashed a large cache of gold inside the rock formation.

This torrid history makes haunting tales a common occurrence. Travelers have reported hearing moans and cries coming from inside the dark cavern.

Emily Hunsaker is a native of southern Illinois and attended Southern Illinois University.