For those who don't know anything about Alton, IL, its on the Mississippi River across from St. Louis MI. Its a really cool college town with nice restaurants and friendly bars.
On the haunted side of things, the entire town is said to be haunted. This is due to the fact that it housed the first Illinois State Penitentiary. The prison was built in 1833 with only 24 cells. As the years went by the prison had to add more cells, by 1855 they were up to 296 cells and it was known as "bluff Castle." Due to where the prison was built, on the side of the bluff, conditions started to deteriorate and was closed in 1860.
The prison was re-opened in 1862, but this time it's prisoners were Military for the Civil War. The problems from the first time it was closed had not been dealt with and running down even quicker. The prison was severely over-crowded and disease ran rampant though the prisoners. Again, due to the prison built in the middle of the bluffs, when it rained, all the mud, sewage, water and garbage would flood the prison. Prisoners started dying quickly from dysentery, pneumonia and measles. Then in 1862 the first case of small pox hit and even though the prison did their best to immunize the soldiers, it spread too fast. It spread so fast in fact that they shipped all the small pox victims to a quarantine hospital that was on an island of the Missouri shore. The real name of the island was Sunflower Island, but it quickly became known as Smallpox Island. The smallpox outbreak took more than 260 prisoners to their grave, while the other diseases affected the rest the 1,200 prisoners.
Men were dying so fast and in such large groups that the city decided that they would bury the confederate soldiers in a mass grave. The Confederate Cemetery has all confederate soldiers but the 260 that were buried on Smallpox Island. When the soldiers would die, they wouldn't go to the cemetery right away. The route to the cemetery was very steep and rough on the horses and carts so they made sure that they had enough bodies to "make the trip worth it." Legend is that they would put so many bodies on the cart that when they would get to the very steep parts of the road, bodies would fall off and roll into the woods. When this happened, the drivers would not take the time to put the bodies back on. Well, in the 1980's there was man and his dog walking near the road in the woods and the dog found human remains.
The prison was permanently closed in 1865 and the remaining prisoners were sent to St. Louis. During the war, 1,354 Confederate soldiers, 215 civilians and 240 Union Soldiers and guards died at the prison.
In good faith, in 1907, the government erected a monument at the mass grave with all the names of the soldiers who perished at the prison on bronze tablets. Also, you can see the monument dedicated to the 260 men who died from smallpox on the island.
Today, only a very small portion of a cell block still stands.Here's where the haunting come into play. When the prison was torn down, it was torn down delicately so that the stone could be used to build new buildings and homes throughout the town.
Haunted Spots in Alton:
McPike Manson- One of the most famous haunted houses in the town
The Mineral Springs Hotel- The best spot to get info on all the best haunts in Alton
The Cracker Factory- One of the best kept secrets
The Enos Sanatorium- Former tuberculosis sanatorium and underground railroad station. Might be the most haunted spots in Alton
The First Unitarian Church- Will you see the spirit of the suicidal minister?
Spirits of the Civil War & Alton's Confederate Prison- The cause of the whole town being haunted
Milton School- Lots of legends surround this school
The Hartford Castle- Mansion turned speakeasy serves 2 kinds ofspirits
Hop Hollow Road- Forgotten roadway once used to transport the dead to the graves
Lewis & Clark College- You might get detention for all eternity form the dead headmistress.
The Ghost of August Mayford- Will you see the vanishing police officer?
The Franklin House- First luxury hotel where you can check in but you might not check out!
Alton National Cemetery- You might just get a glimpse of proud Union soldeir