Why Alton is America's Most Haunted Small Town
It was a dark and stormy night ... well, maybe not so stormy but definitely dark ... as a group of fellow ghost hunting travelers walked through the Mississippi River town of Alton, IL seeking spirits, specters and spooks.
That isn't an unusual sight in downtown Alton. The city is considered "One of the Most Haunted Small Towns in America." So take your authentic ghost hunting adventure to the next level. Get a glimpse of the shades, shadows and souls that reportedly walk the historic streets and haunted the ancestral buildings of the region. Experience Haunted Alton for yourself!
A sordid past of murder, war, death and destruction has led to Alton’s haunted present. Through the years, many travelers have investigated and inquired about the unexplained happenings and psychic phenomena found throughout Alton. Several locations that are noted to be extremely haunted, including the infamous McPike Mansion, The First Unitarian Church, and Milton School, have been featured on television shows on the Travel Channel and Syfy Channel.Mark Twain once referred to Alton, IL as a "dismal little river town," but little did he know what more Alton was.
This small river town has now been named one of the most haunted small towns in America. Could this be because of the history of death, disease, violence, the Civil War, the Underground Railroad? Or has Alton simply been deemed one of the most haunted towns because of the ghosts and hauntings that occur regularly? That's for you to decide on one of our Haunted Tours.
The original owner of the Mansion was Henry Guest McPike. The McPike family owned 15 acres of land, which they called Mount Lookout Park. The house has not been occupied since the 1950s. Before weather and vandals brought extensive damage to the structure, it was a regal addition to the Illinois town of Alton.McPike Mansion today is owned by Sharyn and George Luedke who have been trying to nurture this great house back to its regal state. When they purchased the house, they had no idea that it was haunted. Now, people see orbs, balls of light, even figures of people in the background of pictures taken at the mansion. Some claim the haunts date back to the property before the mansion was even built with detections of Native American ghosts and a residue from a possible Underground Railroad stop. Other mysterious stories include servants of the building, a cook in the kitchen and the strange death of a woman in the bathtub. Some even believe that Eleanor and Henry McPike still roam the corridors of their former home.
The Cellar has been a focal point of many energies felt in the mansion. This Grand Ole House is thought to still house many of the spirits that once lived here.
First Unitarian Church
The First Unitarian Church was built in 1830 and called St. Matthew's Catholic Church. 20 years later, the church burned to the ground. The Unitarian Society purchased the land and rebuilt a church for themselves. Another fire occurred in 1901, burning the church down to its foundation yet again. The church that stands now was rebuilt in 1905.
Reverand Phillip Mercer became a well-respected preacher at the Unitarian Church at the young age of 18. Moving here from England, he had a way of speaking in his sermons that made people from all over come to hear him preach.
One night in November of 1934, he found himself ill. Shaking and unable to speak properly, he went to visit a friend, James McKinney. After a few days of not seeing Mercer, McKinney went to the church to check on him. Mercer was found hanging in the doorway of the minister's study.
Since the reverends death, there have been reports of voices and shadowy figures coming from the basement of the church. The piano seems to play itself sometimes and doors open and close with no explanation.
The Milton School House was built in 1904 and was up and running successfully until it's official close in 1986. This school served as the main school in Alton until it's close. After the school shut down, it became a factory for Intaglio Design. Since then, other businesses that have taken up residence in this building.
The story of its haunting came about when the story of a little girl, Mary, started circulating the area. One day after school, Mary was finishing up a seasonal bulletin in her classroom while everyone else in the building had left for the day. As the sun started to go down she realized that she ought to get home before her mother worried about her. As she was skipping down the stairs towards the gymnasium doors, she heard a noise behind her.
The next morning, Mary was found in the girl's locker room battered with blood all over her and her torn up clothes.
When Intaglio Design took over the building years ago, they noticed that there were weird happenings in the building. They heard footsteps, things started missing and then reappearing from the office, and one man even believes he saw the figure of a young girl. Was it Mary?
Find out for yourself on a tour of Alton's most haunted school.
Haunted Tour Providers
In order to truly experience Haunted Alton, we would invite you to contact our various haunted tour providers to take you in the trenches with stories and hunts for Alton's hauntings.
(These tours are currently unavailable.) Alton's Haunted Odyssey began in 1992 when Marlene Lewis and Antoinette created the area's first haunted tour. They now offer three different trolley tours that begin at My Just Desserts and takes you through the most haunted parts of Alton including the McPike Mansion, the Alton City Cemetery, Jacoby Arts Center and more. For more info or reservations, go to AltonHauntedTours.com or call (618) 462-3861.
Based on the book Haunted Alton by Troy Taylor, Alton Hauntings Tours offers an entertaining and spine-tingling trip into the unknown. Visitors will see sites that have become nationally known, like the old Alton penitentiary, First Unitarian Church, Enos Sanitarium and others. Nowhere else can you learn as much about the real, haunted history of Alton. Private tours are also available for groups of 20 or more. Reservations must be made in advance for all tours. For more info or reservations, go to AltonHauntings.com.
Monthly tours of the historically haunted mansion take place beginning in April and run through early November. During Alton's "Haunted Season" tours are held weekly. Tours include a history of McPike Mansion and its paranormal happenings along with a tour of the surrounding grounds and crypts. Talk with the spirits in the authentically haunted wine cellar with the help of Dowsing rods. Tours are approximately 90 minutes. Group tours are available by appointment only. For more information or to sign up for a tour go to McPikemansion.com.
Other Haunted Locations in Alton
Take a haunted cemetery tour and walk inside an empty crypt.
The remains of 1,400 Confederate soldiers are buried here in one of the northernmost monuments to the Confederate soldier.
During the Civil War, the facility imprisoned thousands of Confederate soldiers and over 1,400 died due to a smallpox outbreak.
This monument is dedicated to the man who was murdered by a pro-slavery mob in 1837.
One of its former pastors is known to haunt this historic church and is also the beginning site of haunted tours by Alton Haunted Tours company.
This building is said to be haunted since the basement used to be a mortuary.
Known as one of the country’s most haunted homes, more than 11 different spirits have been experienced from the wine cellar all the way to the second floor of this building.
The tragic tale of the school involved the unsolved mystery of a young girl brutally murdered and a janitor who committed suicide at this building.
Once an elegant hotel and spa its history is filled with tragedy, murders, suicides, natural and accidental deaths.
This dragon-like bird is known to have terrorized and devoured the native inhabitants of the area.
Piasa Masonic Lodge
The spirit of a Confederate soldier haunted that basement as he is believed to be have been a fellow Mason who died in the nearby prison.
There have been stories of a mysterious person who drags chairs and tables on the first floor of the restaurant while workers are in the basement preparing the day’s meals.
This site was where the Confederate soldiers who died from smallpox were originally buried.