Murder, beheadings, mad monks, and communion with the dead. While this may sound like a Satanist's calendar appointments, it's actually just some of what lurks on the most haunted road in America. Originally an old Indian trail, Chicago's Archer Avenue is considered one of the most powerful spirit lines on the planet.
Paved into an actual road in 1830, a stretch of Archer Avenue is saturated in paranormal occurrences that have terrified many and spawned tales passed among Chicago residents for decades. Tales that include vanishing hitchhikers, black magic rituals, and blood-drenched ghouls. Some attribute the intense energy connected to the street with surrounding bodies of water, some with magnetic lines in the earth, some with Native American remains found along the route.
Regardless of what lures such darkness to the area, time has proven the creepiest stories from Archer Avenue endure. The real question is whether this haunted trail will continue to produce further horrors.
The most famous ghost in Chicago is Resurrection Mary. This ethereal specter has haunted the strip of Archer Avenue between Resurrection Cemetery and the Willowbrook Ballroom - formerly the O'Henry Ballroom - since the 1930s.
No one is quite sure of the young lady's identity but a widely accepted origin story conjectures that Mary, after dancing the night away, left the ballroom in a huff after a fight with her date. Tired and angry, Mary may have been struck by a vehicle and killed while walking down the pitch-black, wooded stretch of Archer Avenue. What makes Mary unique from other hitchhiker tales is that witnesses claim when offered a ride, she accepts and then directs drivers up Archer Avenue only to disappear when the car reaches Resurrection Cemetery.
Mary appears as a young, pale, blonde dressed in a white party dress and further witnesses claim to have seen Mary roaming around Resurrection Cemetery at night. On August 10, 1976, a passerby noticed a girl grasping the bars of the cemetery and, fearing she was locked in, alerted the Justice police. When the police arrived, they combed the cemetery but found no one. They did, however, find that the rails of the fence bent at sharp angles with two blackened scorch marks indicating where they had been pulled apart. The marks were in the shape of hand prints and appeared to have the texture of human skin.
"Monk's Castle" acquired it's local moniker after numerous sightings of phantom monks in the woods dressed in brown robes, carrying lanterns, and chanting in Latin. The site is actually named St. James of the Sag Church and it is most notorious for rumors that a group of rambunctious teens were once caught there by evil monks who tortured them in hideous ways.
These monks supposedly haunt the church and its cemetery. Legend has it they will go after teenaged trespassers and, once caught, will shave their prey's heads like those of a Franciscan monk. Other supposed threats are that the monks will force captives to kneel on uncooked rice for hours. No monks have ever been stationed at the church, but parish priests at the church have been known to chase trespassing teens off of the ground with bullhorns and flashlights. Just further fuel for the stories, not to mention encouragement for daring teenagers to attempt "Monk's Castle Run," a challenge to run from one end of the cemetery to the next without being caught.
Along Archer Avenue, in the Bridgeport section of Chicago, lies the infamous Kaiser Hall. Back in its heyday, Kaiser Hall was a popular ballroom that not only catered to the immigrants of the neighborhood, but supposedly to the devil himself.
According to legend, a young woman was swept off of her feet by a handsome, dashing man at one of the hall's dances. After hours of dancing with the young man, the woman happened to look down at her partner's feet and screamed at what she saw. Men in the vicinity assumed the man had made an unwelcome advance on the woman and chased him up to the second floor of the Kaiser. Once cornered, the man jumped out of a second story window, landed with ease on the ground, and walked away. The stranger got away but in the cement where he landed was the imprint of cloven hooves.
Right across from Resurrection Mary's infamous ballroom, O'Henry's, is a restaurant said to have been one of Al Capone's speakeasies during his reign. Known as O'Henry's Roadhouse, it served as an alcohol-fueled gambling den and brothel with a basement used for interrogations and the slaughter of Capone's enemies. Abortions were performed in a small room on the second floor for prostitutes working in the establishment, the walls contained hidden compartments to hide gangsters, and their were underground tunnels for escape routes.
While the building itself showcases shadowy specters and strange noises, the most jarring manifestation reported is the pulverized face of a prostitute that is sometimes seen in a bathroom mirror. This same woman once appeared in front of the building's owner and informed him of how much she appreciated the renovations that were taking place. Sightings surrounding the establishment include men fleeing through the woods, corpses being carried off, and the sounds of gunshots and screams. Some visitors claim to feel as though they are being intently watched by something just beyond the trees.