Urban Explorer - Dale Kaczmarek
Urban Explorer - Medill School Of Journalism - Northwestern University - Chicago, IL USA
From across the street and in the middle of the day, the way to Bachelors Grove Cemetery looks cheery. The stone path next to the Midlothian Turnpike looks small and harmless as it leads into the Rubio Woods forest preserve and I can barely make out the words, "Closed at sunset" on a red and white sign. The sense of dread doesn't come until I cross the street, walk around the two wooden posts with a chain hanging between them, and start my journey. Bachelor's Grove Cemetery, the most haunted place in the Chicago area, waits for me a quarter-mile down the path. It is only one of the chilling places Ghost Hunter Dale Kaczmarek takes an eager bus-full of people to on his haunted tour of Chicagoland.
Tiny pieces of broken glass on the ground sparkle in the sunlight as I head toward Bachelors Grove. Dark branches reach out into the middle of the path and the wind rocks them back and forth. I'm surrounded by bushes and trees. Although I can hear the traffic from the turnpike, I can't see it and so it seems miles away. Soon I come upon a fallen tree that bars my path. I consider turning back, but instead duck under a low limb and continue.
My eyes dart from one place in the woods to another. I'm suspicious that someone is watching me. I imagine what I look like from a few feet away, winding down the path in a red jacket. I hear something move a few feet to my left. I stop, look and decide it's a small animal that I can't see because it's hidden by the thick brush.
Bachelors Grove Cemetery appears on my right surrounded by a chain link fence. Although there is a gaping hole in the fence near the entrance, the gate is wide open, and I enter.
The large gravestones are set up in a circular pattern. Many have fallen over. Wheeler Chancy B. and Ella Fulton have lain next to each other since the late 1920s. The graves lie between tall trees that have a light brown textured bark with what looks like veins winding up the narrow trunks. A quick walk around the cemetery tells me that the most recent burial took place here in 1989, but many of the stones are marked with dates as early as the 1920s.
More than 100 sightings have been reported in the cemetery, from shooting lights to phantom houses. "There are probably over 30 different sightings out here. The phenomena are constantly changing," Dale says when he stops his bus tour, Excursions into the Unknown, just outside the forest preserve. He is president of the Chicago-based Ghost Research Society, which has members from around the world, and has been studying paranormal phenomena in the Chicago area since 1975.
Dale explains to the 50 of us taking the tour that several people have and still see a white farm house with white pillars in the distance at Bachelors Grove. When they walk toward the house, it disappears. In the 1970s, several people saw balls of blue light grow as big as basketballs and disappear, he says. Others saw a phantom car drive down the stone path and at other times a red light shoot up and down the path. Dale took a picture of a female ghost sitting on a gravestone in 1991, and it was published in the Chicago Sun-Times and National Examiner. Another woman ghost in white carries a baby through the cemetery. In the past year, some visitors reported seeing a black dog wandering through the area that vanished when it was approached.