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The Best Southland Haunts You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

The Best Southland Haunts You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
Southtown Star - Chicago Sun-Times
October 28, 2011
Jason Freeman

If you’ve lived in the Southland for more than 10 minutes, chances are you can recite the ghost stories surrounding Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery and Resurrection Mary from memory.

Tales such as those have become an ingrained, almost essential part of what it means to be a Southlander, especially during Halloween. It’s one of the things that separates us from folks in, say, downstate Charleston.

But how many of us are familiar with the story of the floating torso in Lockport or the ghost of the axe-wielding maniac in Crete Township?

Probably not as many as you’d think. And those are only two of hundreds of Southland places that allege to be home to paranormal activity.

“I conservatively estimate there may be more than 200 locations that I know of in the Chicagoland area that I’ve investigated and that I’ve actually researched,” said Dale Kaczmarek, president of the Ghost Research Society.

Here are just a few.

Axeman’s Bridge

Address: Near Old Post Road, just east of Illinois 394 in Crete Township

Lore: A wood-dwelling hermit murders two kids with an axe after he finds them trespassing on his property. The kids had been dared by friends waiting safely on the road to run from one side of the hermit’s bridge to the other. In another version, a man kills his family with an axe and burns down his home to cover the crime. He’s then shot and killed by police on a nearby bridge while trying to escape.

Reported activity: The sounds of screams and of an axe hitting the metal frame of the bridge; cars stalling when driving near the bridge on Old Post Road; seeing the lights of a home in the woods that no longer exists.

Expert opinion: “I’ve never been able to trace down a specific, credible story to it,” Kaczmarek said. “I think it’s more of an urban legend than an actual, true ghost story.”

Location details: The bridge, which for years was collapsed and covered with graffiti, is gone. If there are the remains of a home somewhere near it, the woods have reclaimed it. If you want to find the place where the bridge once stood, you’ll need a bit of tenacity and a familiarity with the surrounding woods.

Worth a trip?: Nope. This story is probably complete fiction, so it’s not worth the trouble.


John Humphrey House

Address: 9830 W. 144th Place, Orland Park

History: The home was built in 1881 for Sen. John Humphrey. According to local lore, the ghosts of Humphrey’s wives and of his first child roam the home’s halls. Humphrey’s first wife was found dead in the house in 1898.

Reported activity: Apparitions that appear in reflective surfaces; strange lights; a general feeling of heaviness and oppression.

Expert opinion: “I understand there is some activity going on there, so that’s a valid haunting from what I’ve been able to determine,” Kaczmarek said.

Worth a trip?: Absolutely. The house is open to the public from 2 to 4 p.m., the second Sunday of the month. Admission is free.

Information: (708) 349-0065

Bruce Road

Address: Runs from Lockport Road/State Street to Cedar Road in Lockport and Homer townships

Lore: It’s unclear when the story of Bruce Road entered the world of the paranormal, but there are some who swear a small stretch of the street is haunted by a mysterious phantom.

Reported activity: A man’s torso has been seen floating toward vehicles shortly before the observer reaches a stop sign at an intersection along the road. The apparition lasts a few seconds before disappearing.

Expert opinion: Like Axeman’s Bridge, Kaczmarek said this one likely is just a tall tale.
Location details: The legend isn’t clear as to which direction you should travel along Bruce Road to see the ghost. It’s also unclear as to which intersection the legend refers.

Worth a trip?: Sure. Bruce Road is a public road, so there’s nothing keeping you from driving up and down it in hopes of catching a glimpse of the enigmatic torso.

Information: There is surprisingly little information on the ghost of Bruce Road, giving credence to it likely being just an urban legend.

Beverly Unitarian Church

Address: 10244 S. Longwood Drive, Chicago

Lore: The church was built in 1886 for Robert Givens. He asked that the structure resemble the ancient estates of his native Ireland, which is how it got its nickname, “The Irish Castle.” There are several tragedies linked to the building, including the death of Givens’ bride-to-be and the illness-related passing of a student when the church was known as Chicago Female College in the early 1930s.

Reported activity: The ghost of a young girl in a long dress; a ghostly light that passes by windows and floats up the staircase; unexplained jingling sounds.

Expert opinion: “That’s a very valid place,” Kaczmarek said. “In fact, it’s probably the most haunted church in Chicago.”

Worth a visit?: Not recommended. Kaczmarek said the present church administrators don’t embrace the alleged haunting as other places do, so your best bet is to respect the church’s privacy.


Memorial Park

Address: Burr Oak and Highland avenues in Blue Island

Lore: Memorial Park is located on what once was the city cemetery. Starting in 1898, the cemetery was redesignated, and most bodies were moved to another cemetery. Bodies that weren’t claimed were left there. According to Kaczmarek, some human remains still exist underneath the park.

Reported activity: Strange lights bobbing around the hills; ghostly goings-on in the administration building and in surrounding homes.

Expert opinion: Kaczmarek said there’s definitely some legitimacy to the paranormal claims.

Worth a trip?: Yes. In fact, the park is part of Kaczmarek’s “Excursions into the Unknown” bus tour. See the below link for details.