October is the perfect time to visit haunted houses, watch scary movies and listen to ghost stories.
But if you want an arguably spookier experience, one that might just make the hairs on your arms stand up, we have a suggestion for a road trip.
Alton, Illinois, a city of around 26,000 residents along the Mississippi River in southern Illinois, has made The Travel’s list of ghostly towns to tour this October. Situated 18 miles or so north of St. Louis, Alton is home to McPike Mansion, one of the most notoriously haunted houses in the Midwest, according to the website.
Built in 1869 by Henry Guest McPike, the mansion was a “regal addition” to Alton and served as the family’s home for decades before being vacated in the 1950s, according to the mansion’s website. People have reported seeing orbs, balls of light and figures appearing in windows when looking at photos taken inside the home.
“This Grand Ole House is thought to still house many of the spirits that once lived here,” a description on the website stated. “Many Psychics and Mediums have felt the presence of what they believe to be McPike family, servants, as well as some of those who resided in and owned the house since 1936.”
Now owned by a couple that is trying to restore the mansion to its “regal state,” McPike Mansion remains closed to the public, though visitors are allowed on its grounds.
The home is far from the only place in Alton rumored to be haunted.
At the city’s First Unitarian Church, doors sometimes open and close without explanation, and the piano even plays itself at times, according to the local Great Rivers and Routes Tourism Bureau.
The church was once home to Rev. Phillip Mercer, a well-respected preacher from England “who had a way of speaking in his sermons that made people from all over come to hear him preach,” according to the website. On one night, the preacher became ill – he was shaking and unable to speak properly – and decided to visit a friend.
After not seeing Mercer for days, the friend went to the church to check on him. There, the pastor was found hanging in the doorway of the minister’s study. According to the tourism bureau, there have been reports of voices and shadowy figures coming from the basement of the church since the reverend’s death.
Odd sights and sounds have surfaced at another building in town, the former Milton School House, which was in operation from 1904 to 1986. One day after school, a little girl named Mary was finishing up a seasonal bulletin in her classroom while everyone else in the building had left for the day, according to the tourism bureau.
As the sun started to go down, she realized that she needed to get home, so her mom didn’t worry. As the story goes, while skipping down the stairs toward the gymnasium doors, Mary heard a noise behind her.
The following morning, Mary was found in the girl’s locker room, battered with blood all over her, and her torn up clothes, according to the story. Decades later, employees of a design company that took over the building reported hearing footsteps.
Then, things started missing at the office and then later reappeared. One man even reported seeing the figure of a young girl, the tourism bureau stated.
If you’re wanting to visit the spooky town, but don’t want to venture out on your own, multiple haunted tours are offered. You can find information on tour companies and other potentially haunted locations throughout the city at the Great Rivers and Routes Tourism Bureau’s website.