Haunted Road Trip Pt 2: Cadillac Ranch to Stull Cemetery

Let’s pick up where we left off on our weird and spooky Tucson to Madison road trip. In part one we covered ghost and UFO-related locations across Arizona and New Mexico, visiting haunted hotels and eating at haunted restaurants. I’m a sucker for classic Hollywood, so I’ll take a moment to again, point out how cool the El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, NM is. If you haven’t had a change to read that article, check out part 1.

Our departure from lunch in Santa Fe’s haunted High Noon Restaurant, sent us east towards the Texas panhandle. In true form, everything really is bigger in Texas… even the Holiday Inn, which boasted rooms as big as convention halls. Exaggeration, yes, but it was some serious bang for the buck.

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Cadillac Ranch

The next morning, waking up in Amarillo, there was one way to start the day… by hanging out in the middle of a farm field. Cadillac Ranch has been standing for over 40 years just south of Route 66. The 10 cars, arranged chronologically from a ’49 model to a ’64 show the progression of the iconic Caddy tail fin. The original location was a wheat field 2 miles closer to the city, but was moved in 1997 to keep it further from the growing metropolis.

Perhaps most amazingly, the location is still completely free and unmonitored. Curiosity seekers are welcome to visit and explore the oddity as they wish. The original plan wasn’t to provide a canvas for people across the country to leave their mark, but that’s what it’s become. Half used spray cans litter the area, allowing anyone to grab the contraband-turned-art supply and add their own little flair to Cadillac Ranch. After 40 years, I think there’s more paint than metal here. For a great gallery of photographs of the ranch over the years, including the unthinkable – graffiti-free pictures of the cars, visit this site: The Story of Cadillac Ranch.

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We didn’t have to go far to visit our first haunted location of the day as Amarillo also houses “The Nat,” a haunted castle from 1922. Well, a castle-style building anyway. It was built to house an indoor swimming pool (“Nat” being short for natatorium), but within four years of opening, the venue was completely repurposed. A dance floor was built over top of the pool and a stage was added. The ghosts that still reside seem to come from this incarnation of the building.

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Two-page ad announcing the opening of The Nat in July 1922.

The next 70 years witnessed an evolution of music, hosting big band groups, classic rock groups including Buddy Holly and continuing to book acts all the way to the much more contemporary Dixie Chicks.

Today, however, the building is wall-to-wall antique mall. The upstairs loft, previously a gambling hall (unconfirmed), is the site of frequent cold spots and where a women in white is seen. This woman has a red mark on her front. Amazingly, this has not lead to legends of a woman being stabbed to death here, but rather the victim of a ruthless wine stain.

People have seen a couple still dancing the night away on the dance floor. The room is also the site of easily the most rockin’ residual haunting I’ve ever heard of: a phantom drum solo! The opportunity was too rich, so I had our award-winning drummer in residence, Wendy Lynn Staats of the paranormal rock band Sunspot, take the stage and hang out where the drum kit would be set up. Unfortunately, our phantom performers were not enticed to show off in front of a fellow drummer.

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Wendy in her natural environment – on a haunted stage.

Talking with the clerk, he conveyed a story to us about seeing a woman and young girl walking through one of the aisles around closing time. When he approached to let them know they were closing soon, the two vanished.

This sounds like an active site that possibly got much more active with the addition of thousands of antiques. It’s always possible that cherished objects still have attachments associated with their previous owners. This would be an amazing, but impractical location for a ghost hunt. I only hope the Nat has a good security system with sound; essentially a nightly paranormal stakeout.

WizardOfOzLiberal2Our journey took us to Kansas, which meant one thing: odd attempts to capitalize on the “Wizard of Oz.” Liberal, KS contains a replica of Dorothy’s house and in my opinion that’s a liberal use of the word “replica.” In fairness, we didn’t give the place a fair shot as we arrived at closing time and could only explore the exterior. The kitsch and oddity factor is exactly what you’re looking for in a roadside attraction.

CoronadoLiberalJust across the street, however, was some serious history. It was the estimated location where Francisco Vasquez de Coronado at least temporarily set up shop during an expedition in 1541. He spent more than a month exploring central Kansas looking for a fabled kingdom of gold. Clearly Coronado returned without riches, but also without his guide, who he killed in anger.

Stories of frustration turned to those of inspiration when we drove through the nearby town of Greensburg, KS. The town captured our attention as it was evident from tree damage that a tornado was in its recent past. In 2007 95% of the down was decimated by an F5 tornado (the most extreme on the Fujita-Pearson scale). The tornado itself was wider than the entire city. However, rather than rebuild as quickly and cheaply as possible, the town became the first in the nation to build all of it’s structures at platinum levels according to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Greensbug is now known as the “greenest town in America.”

We rolled into Pratt, KS in time for an amazing Midwestern meal at Club D’Est, but unfortunately too late to buy a drink (travel tip: BYOB, box wine travels well).

Starting our final day in central Kansas, we were in great position to visit one of the most famously haunted sites in all of America… but not before one more roadside oddity.

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The name “Truckhenge” might make you think you’ll be seeing a replica of Stonehenge created with trucks. However, that would be attributing way too much organizational credit to this site. I hope that doesn’t sound too snarky and judgmental, because this is a “must see” location. As much as this place is an explosion of folkart, it’s also a constant protest against the bureaucracy who wanted owner Ron Leesman to clean up his property, citing that a flood could wash his collection of antique, immobile trucks down the nearby river. Rather than clear them out, he embedded them, turning them into political billboards, none more iconic than the nose-up pick-up truck declaring “Rise up!”

TruckHenge2TruckHenge3However, the trucks are just a small percentage of the overall experience. Ron himself greeted us when we showed up unannounced. Beer in hand at 11am, he showed us his collection of carvings: dozens of faces he carved into logs. It was clear he had a joke for each and every piece. Peacocks roamed the grounds as we were invited to take a drive. You literally drive through this guy’s backyard along a track, viewing the art he’s created with found items and empty beer bottles and cans. He’s also become something of an amateur archeologist too, having located ice age-era fossils of camels and mammoths in the neighboring quarry. There is no admission fee, nor is there even a donation box.

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Within 20 minutes we transport ourselves from an anti-establishment art exhibit to the mouth of Hell itself (well, according to legend anyway). Where do you start when you discuss Stull Cemetery? The rural, out of the way location is one legend heaped upon the next. The church and cemetery date to the mid 1850s, but we don’t know when the first reports of the supernatural started surrounding this area. A 1974 article in the University of Kansas newspaper serves as some of the first hard evidence when it comes to a folklore timeline and the advent of the internet really helped spread stories.

Legend has it that the location is visited twice a year by none other than Satan himself, on the spring equinox and on Halloween night. When the roof caved in on the aged stone church, witnesses there on rainy days observed that no rain would land within the now unprotected church. As of 2002 the church was fully bulldozed, making it impossible to confirm or deny these claims.

StullCemeteryChurchThere’s the legend of a stairway, always described vaguely as as being behind and to the right of the church. This is a magical portal of some sort. If you toss an item into the the stairwell, you’ll never hear it hit bottom. The few people that have attempted going down the stairs have never returned. If “Eleven” goes missing during season three of “Stranger Things,” this would be a good place to start looking as it’s believed this is the literal doorway to the other side.

Wendy and I spent at least an hour investigating this site with no luck in locating such a staircase or anything in the ground that might indicate a filled-in staircase or foundations. While that sounds like a sure “case closed,” it actually feeds into the well-constructed legend that the staircase only reveals itself on rare occasions. There doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason to this story as I haven’t found legends to decipher if it relates to a time of day, anniversary, etc. or if it’s the witness themselves who are the key to the stairs revealing themselves. Of course, the likelihood that it’s all manufactured storytelling, is also possible.

However, I’ve come to the conclusion that while stories may get blown up and exaggerated over time, they come from some element of truth. So, where is that truth?

Did early settlers practice séances or other occult practices here? Was a tree on this land used to hang witches? Yes, these are even more of the claims related to this site.

New friends and fellow road tripping paranormal nerds, Greg & Dana Newkirk of Planet Weird made a visit to the site in 2016 and were shocked to see the Stull Cemetery grounds randomly on fire with no obvious cause. It was almost as if Satan had emerged up that mythic staircase and just forgot to wipe his feet before exploring our earthly realm.  Feel free to check out their video below, but note that they misidentify the location of the church.

When Wendy and I visited Stull in 2017 is was a rainy day, so there were no flames or smoke. However, fresh scorch marks were apparent and scattered around the grounds. There’s no obvious culprit for this.  Note the black marks on the ground in the image below.  We will have our own video about this site that shows the burn marks in the future.

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Interestingly, one of the few real life documented tragedies to take place in the small town (Stull’s peak population only hit 50 and has since been absorbed by the town of Lecompton) involves a young boy wandering into a field was was on fire and burning to death. When trying to explain a documented paranormal phenomena, one has to cast a pretty wide net based on historical facts. I, myself, have a lot of work to do when it comes to research here. For one, is that boy buried at Stull Cemetery? If so, the connection between his death and the random fires is somewhat compelling. Also, skeptics claim the 1974 article was a hoax that has since gotten out of hand. If that’s the case, locating paranormal allegations in the ‘60s or earlier will be able to debunk the skeptic claims. It may seem funny to debunk the debunkers, but the lack of detail in those claims is exactly what a skeptic would point to, to discredit a paranormal claim. Either way you cut it, facts have to be backed up by documentation.

We love the more recent story too that talks about a local news crew that got permission to stay overnight at Stull Cemetery. Their goal: To debunk the Satan visitation story (or to grab the interview of a lifetime if he shows up). Despite having consent from the property owners and doing work that would ultimately demystify the cemetery, police kicked them out at 11:30. “What are the police covering up?” has been the understandable reaction of the ghost-believing public. Perhaps one day we will start to put some pieces together, whether it’s debunking the claims or understanding the paranormal truths of this area.

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Thank you for joining us on our paranormal road trip! We hope the insight from this post and the previous one give you some fun, spooky & weird options when visiting Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Kansas. One last tip – if you find yourself in Kansas City, don’t pass up the BBQ!

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The Haunted Great Escape in Schiller Park, IL

I recently took part in what must be my 5th or 6th Chicago Ghost Conference, hosted by the fantastic Ursula Bielski.  Our Saturday night party (which was a ridiculous bash that featured not only some awesome costumes, but also an enthusiastic conga line) was held in the Great Escape, an historic restaurant that I featured in a profile video and intervew way back in 2010.  I’m not sure how many conference-goers were even aware that the party was at a haunted venue.  Here is that video:


Haunted Road Trip: Tucson to Madison (Part 1)

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One of my personal favorite videos I’ve ever put out involved how to take a haunted road trip from LA to Vegas.  This year, I set my sights a little bigger and covered a lot more distance, this time taking a trip from Tucson, AZ to Madison, WI, with Wendy Lynn Staats, drummer and violin player for the rock band, Sunspot.  They’re a group that features a lot of songs with paranormal or geek culture themes.  If interested, check out some drone footage I shot of the band here:

Tucson, AZ itself has some great haunted sites, but perhaps, as a Chicagoan, none stand out more than the place that lead to the (temporary) downfall of John Dillinger’s crew.  The Congress Hotel had to serve as a temporary landing spot for the gang of outlaws as the house they rented was not yet ready for them.

Hotel Congress 1934One early morning, fire broke out and the gang, like everyone else, was forced to stand on the street to watch fire envelop the hotel.  Knowing they had some precious cargo inside, a firefighter was convinced to go retrieve their luggage.  In appreciation, the firefighter was given a significant tip.  The following day, the firefighter in question happened to see a photo in True Detective Magazine of the generous tippers.  Within two days the entire crew was arrested, setting the stage for one of the most famous and clever prison breaks in history, that being the escape in the warden’s car in Crowne Point, IN that is described in detail in “Voices from the Chicago Grave.”  (further reading on John Dillinger’s time in Tucson here)

The Hotel Congress boasts many old time amenities and a whole slew of ghosts who continue to make their presence known.  There’s a maid in one of the halls, a cowboy in the basement, a war vet barfly who continues to tell stories to anyone within earshot and the second floor offers a variety of haunted rooms including the positive (room 220, long time resident still hanging around) and the very negative (suicide deaths leading to hauntings in rooms 214 & 242).

No time to stop for the night this time around, so we headed due north toward the tiny, remote town of Snowflake, Arizona.  Snowflake is famous for one thing and one thing only – this is the site of the most famous UFO abduction case in history.  It was here at the in 1975 that Travis Walton and six fellow loggers encountered a UFO.  Walton ventured from their truck and ended up getting abducted.  He was gone for five days.  The story may be familiar as it’s the basis for the feature film “Fire in the Sky” (trailer below).

The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, where Walton was working, is enormous.  We drove in total darkness for a disorientingly long amount of time.  I had designs on finding the exact location where the UFO encounter happened to try to take some readings, as I’ve heard that there’s still a radioactive signature here.  However, I did not plan for the forest being nearly 3 million acres.  The next best option, which is really a goldmine when getting to the bottom of local lore, was finding a local bar to talk to the regulars.  We passed one or two small dives that appeared to be closed for the night before finally locating a restaurant/bar that was open.

Sadly, this venue didn’t quite have the local flavor I was hoping for as it appeared to cater to time share ‘owners.’  Still, the place had to be staffed by locals who knew all about the tales, right?  I mean, after the most famous UFO story since Roswell, have there been other sightings?  Do other UFOlogists swing through often to see the place for themselves?  What about Bigfoot sightings?  There tends to be a correlation between places with a lot of sasquatch sightings and UFO activity.  With so much woodlands, I can imagine all sorts of cryptid sightings!

“So, do you know about the UFO history of this area?” I asked our bartender.

“You mean, like Area 51?” She responded.

“Um, no,” the smile leaving my face.  “Just down the road from here was the most famous UFO abduction case in the world.  There was a big Hollywood film made about it.”

“Oh,” she said before turning around to dry glasses.

ElRancho“Oh?”  Just “oh?”  I will never understand how there wasn’t a string of follow-up questions to my statement.  I guess I’m a researcher and others are not.   ….but still!  A Hollywood movie was made based on events in your town and you have zero interest?  A UFO plucked a dude off of your sleepy street and you’re not interested?

Clearly, we were barking up the wrong tree and we had a lot of miles left to drive.  Our camp for the night was just over the border in the beautiful town of Gallup, New Mexico.

Gallup’s picturesque landscapes made the town a natural fit for countless movies over the years, particularly westerns.  However, it’s here that one of my favorite movies of all time, Kirk Douglas’s “Ace in the Hole” was filmed.

All of those crew members and movie stars had to sleep somewhere while in town and where better than a hotel opened by Roy Griffith, the brother of the legendary director DW (“Birth of a Nation,” “Intolerance”)?  Today, the El Rancho Hotel is considered one of the most haunted locations along Route 66.

ElRancho3The two-floor lobby with the wrap-around balcony proudly displays vintage, signed black and white photos of the stars of yester-year who once stayed there.  Some rooms even display names on them, presumably honoring past residents.  It’s in this upper lobby where people have heard phantom conversations, singular voices, footsteps and laughter.

Among individual rooms, the bridal suite claims the most activity, but neighboring rooms also report objects moving on their own, doors opening by unseen hands and the unwelcome wake up call of the curtains flying open on their own at the crack of dawn.  Apparently a long gone crew member doesn’t want to miss their call time.

A glance around different travel or review sites also recounts tales of unexplainable phenomena in the John Wayne room and the Susan Hayward room.

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By lunchtime we had made it to another location that is intimately associated with a Hollywood production…..and meth.  Yep, Albuquerque!  Perhaps no law enforcement agency takes stopping the spread of meth more seriously than the town where the movie “Breaking Bad” is set.  For the 18+ crowd, ya gotta check out the Candy Lady, a candy store that sells X-rated sweets.  No haunting here, but this is one of the ‘weird’ trip highlights.

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HighNoon2We, however, had our sights set on margaritas and the High Noon Restaurant and Saloon and they delivered!  The building itself has to be one of the oldest still existing structures in the United States as it was first built in the 1750s.  The building has long reported the presence of a woman in white in the Santos room (pictured to the right, note the saint statues in the alcoves), but the current owners have been feeling more and more unsettled.  Something isn’t right here.  That’s what led them to reach out for help in the form of Travel Channel’s “The Dead Files.” (read more on that here). Clever marketing ploy or legit paranormal drama, we had a lunch that more than hit the spot.

Bellies full of great food, we took a little walk before jumping back on the road.  In the process, we got a look at the Covered Wagon, a store that contains a ridiculous amount of Chile Ristras (bunches of hanging chili peppers, picture below) and the legend of a ghost named Scarlett, a prostitute who was murdered on the site when the building was a brothel.  She was allegedly stabbed by a fellow ‘working girl’ and died of blood loss before help could arrive.  Due to the clandestine nature of the building, there are no official records to confirm or deny that this crime took place.  Whatever the origin, the building and the immediate surrounding area seems to be visited by a female presence, who is not always clothed.  You heard me.

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In the same square is the La Placita Dining Rooms (picture below).  The business itself has been in operation since 1935 while the building itself went up sometime prior to 1880 (some sites claim 1706 as the building date).  We talked with one member of the wait staff who confirmed that he had coworkers with paranormal stories but he himself had yet to experience anything of note.

LaPlacita

According to various web sites, there are four known ghosts here, but only two or three are ever identified.  One is the ghost of a little girl who appears as a reflection in the women’s room mirrors while the other is a visage of a woman in full bridal gown seen descending the stairs.  The most unique and perhaps common visual anomaly is a fog or a mist that appears hovering over tables and lingers for a time before again vanishing.  Is this another specter attempting to form?  Perhaps time will tell.

Tune in next month for the next installment of the weird and haunted road trip, which will include infamous and ya-gotta-see-it-to-believe-it sites in Texas and Kansas!

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Midsummer Scream w/ DJ MacHale, Creator of “Are You Afraid of The Dark”

I run down what I’ve got coming up, notably moderating a panel at Midsummer Scream (midsummerscream.org) about the CLASSIC nickelodeon horror anthology show “Are You Afraid of the Dark,” with friend and show creator DJ MacHale. Also, I’ll be taking in the largest music festival in the world, Summerfest, with the “paranormal rock” band Sunspot (sunspotuniverse.com). Recently, I’ve been to a ton of haunted sites coast-to-coast including The Nat in Amarillo, TX and Stull Cemetery in Kansas. Subscribe to this YouTube channel and my newsletter at WhatsYourGhostStory.com to stay in the “know!”


Haunted Glendale, CA – Brand Park & Cemetery

BrandParkCemetery4You’ve gotta love a mountain hike that leads to a mostly hidden cemetery! Glendale, CA’s “first family,” the Brands, started a pet cemetery that they themselves began laying themselves to rest in. The nearby family home, library and this cemetery all claim some level of paranormal activity. There are reports of occult activity at the cemetery, though that’s always a red flag for urban legends to me.

Oddly enough, the modern history of this area dates back to the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago where Missouri realtor Leslie Brand and his wife visited and were immediately taken by the East India Pavilion.

BrandParkCemetery9Just a year later he purchased the small community of Glendale (click on the map image to the right to open the GoogleMap of the location) with hopes of further developing the community and also crafting his perfect, East India-inspired family home.  The home, situated at the base of the Verdugo Mountains was named “The Lookout” in Indian, or Miradero.  Interestingly, the land he purchased is still outlined and named “Miradero” on GoogleMaps.

The East Indian style home, nicknamed “The Castle,” built in 1904 quickly became the social hot spot of Glendale.  When Leslie died in 1925, he donated much of the Miradero land to the city of Glendale, specifically to be used as a library and park.  This library was finally opened some 31 years later and continues to operate to this day.  The park, with baseball diamonds, is in heavy use.

Sadly, like all too many possibly haunted cemeteries, this one has a history of desecration.  Single graves were unearthed on separate occasions with bones of the deceased being scattered about the grounds and skulls stolen.  One of the skulls belonged to Miradero architect Nathaniel Dryden.

BrandParkCemeteryParking in one of the main parking lots, walking up the paved Brand Park Drive, keeping Miradero on your right, gaining altitude as you reach the Verdugo Mountain range, you’ll eventually reach a T intersection.  In front of you, you’ll find decaying stars to nowhere (pictured left).  It’s eerily similar to the present date site of Altadena’s Cobb Estate.

Bear left at the t-intersection and you will soon find the fenced-off Brand Family cemetery, which contains several conventional graves as well as the remarkable pyramid-shaped grave of Leslie Brand.

The trails into the mountains behind the estate still boast scores of ruins from a bygone time.  The photo below shows  Brand Cemetery as seen from a nearby mountain ridge (note the pyramid in the lower right corner), along with

BrandParkCemetery8 Below is another stairway to nowhere, deeper within the mountains.  While there seems to be a large amount of infrastructure, including old, decaying roads, power line supports and building foundations, researching historical topographical maps to not show any buildings whatsoever.  Perhaps these buildings were not built with any official permitting as Brand kept these grounds private, even hidden from civic meddling, as he was a powerful force in Glendale.  Unfortunately, this makes dating and identifying buildings in this area quite difficult.  Event the cemetery, which has to have started in the early 1920s or earlier doesn’t appear on these maps until 1967.

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The most concrete paranormal activity takes place in the library itself where Leslie Brand understandably continues to spend time in his dream home.  If that’s a conscious haunting or that of the residual variety remains to be seem as encounters seem to be too fleeting to gleam much information from.

Due to the terrible grave desecration that happened at the family cemetery, one would understand the place being under close surveillance as much as you would understand if there is some amount of unrest here.  I do believe that paranormal investigation at this site is important as much as I feel that it’s important to do this investigation the “right way.”  Respect the land, the rules and honor the family that helped build Glendale.BrandParkCemetery6

For continued, much more in-depth reading into the history of this site & the brand family themselves, check out a great KCET article here.


Haunted Glendora – Bennett House

Bennett House Ghosts of haunted Glendora

Bennett House Ghosts of haunted GlendoraGlendora’s Bennett House, built in 1905, was purchased by the Daughters of the American Revolution and they found out quickly (during their very first monthly tea party meeting) that they weren’t alone in the home. The visage of a phantom man crashed the party before vanishing.  Occupants also talked about hearing sounds of objects moving, but not seeing anything out of the ordinary happening; this seems to be a common residual-type haunting.

Bennett House Ghosts of haunted GlendoraIt’s unclear if much activity has taken place in the house since that first encounter with the vanishing man in 1982.  It’s not uncommon for paranormal activity to spike when a building undergoes a change (renovations, new inhabitants, etc.). Maybe once the new owners settled in, the spirits settled back down as well.

This is not the only haunted residence in Glendora as John Zaffis, founder of the Paranormal and Demonology Research Society of New England (not to mention that he’s the nephew of famed demonologists Ed & Lorraine Warren) investigated another affected home in Glendora on his show, Haunted Collector.  Read more about that story at Glendora Patch.

Do you know of other haunted sites in Glendora?  Have you experienced anything yourself at the Bennett House?  Were you there at that famed 1982 tea party?  As always we wanna hear about it?


The Mineola Resort and the Dead of Winter Paranormal Conference

woodstockoperahouseAt the end of January I was honored to be invited to take part in Chicago Haunting’s 6th annual Dead of Winter event.  The weekend-long paranormal & psychic conference was held in the northern rural town of Harvard, Illinois, a stone’s throw from the Wisconsin border and from the iconic Woodstock square, home of the haunted Woodstock Opera House (featured in the book “Voices from the Chicago Grave” and pictured at right) and the backdrop for the classic comedy “Groundhog Day.”

The festivities kicked off with an evening tour of some of the more historic and haunted sites around northern Illinois, which I was invited to co-host along with author Ursula Bielski and archeologist Dan Melone.

(Pictures, clockwise from top, left: Scott Markus speaking at the Dead of Winter Event, Dan Melone & Ursula Bielski speaking during the tour, Melone and Allison Jornlin of Milwaukee Ghosts attempting a psychic experiment, Markus with Wendy Lynn Staats of the “See You on the Other Side” podcast).

Highlights from the tour have to include going to the Mineola Resort and the Stickney House (which we covered in our first newsletter, viewable here).  It’s always fun to take people to haunted place to be able to tell the history and legends of a place while on site.  It’s even more important to take people to places like this when they are endangered.

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There is perhaps no historic location in the US more endangered than the Minneola.  The building, constructed in 1884 is the largest surviving wood frame structure in Illinois.  While the site is constantly associated with Al Capone as he visited the site on numerous occasions in the ‘20s, it was already an uproarious location decades earlier, around the turn of the century.

As Chicago was trying to clean up the vice-riddled levee district, Fox Lake became the lawless frontier.  Nearly all of the resorts were stocked with slot machines and you just know there was little to no enforcement of prohibition laws.  In fact, the last of the slot machines didn’t leave the building until a raid in 1952.  According to a Chicago Tribune article (cited here), the Mineola was the “most vicious resort” in this burg of depravity.  One can only imagine the stories and characters surrounding the long past of this site.

MineolaHotel3.jpgCan you imagine the residual energy left behind from a place like this?  What phantom sounds and echoes through time are continuing to clutter up the massive structure?

1930 saw the Fox Lake massacre unfold at Manning’s Hotel, likely a retaliatory attack after the St. Valentine’s Day massacre that resulted in five mobsters shot and three dead.  Interestingly enough both Al Capone and his rival, Bugs Moran, had homes on Bluff Lake, a mere seven miles from the Mineola.

There are legends of a ghost boy seen at the Mineola, reported by staff.  However, possible activity throughout the building has been largely unobserved.  Over the years more and more of the building became off limits as demand waned.  The 100 hotel rooms have been closed off to the public since 1963.  After 50 years of neglect, the elements took their toll. The domed ballroom collapsed in the ‘80s.  By 2012 the restaurant/bar and banquet hall was the only corner of the building still in operation when the building was abruptly condemned.

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(Images like the one above are pulled from a drone shoot I conducted in 2015.  I will be posting the full video shortly.)

A 2013 survey of the building showed the the core structure was still strong and therefore salvageable.  However, each passing storm inches this structure closer to obscurity.  There is an organization in place that’s trying to save the site, which is on the National Register of Historic places.  To lend your support and offer to get involved, check out their Facebook here.

As is the case with most visits to the site, we were quickly approached by police officers.  While we weren’t trespassing (we were walking around the building, staying on the road, as opposed to walking on the porch or attempting to enter the building), we were told to kindly be on our way and there was no further incident. Be advised, if you are to visit this site, do so respectfully and get ready to have someone checking in on you in short order.  If you’re not doing anything wrong, you won’t have anything to hide.  If you are thinking of breaking in, you will be stopped.

mineolahotel6The building itself if condemned after all, meaning it’s unsafe to enter.  Of course, damage to the building itself is also a real concern as we all hold out hope that this structure will live long enough for there to be a chance for a comeback with a new, well-funded owner.

Additional recommended reading, including a couple pictures of the interior can be found here at the NW Herald Website.