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In this Ghost Tour issue...
  • A look at the amazing American Ghost Walk Tour of Lake Geneva, WI.
  • The Galena (Illinois) Haunted Tour Company experience, plus video of a very remote, haunted site.
  • Upcoming public appearances!  I have lots of paranormal presentations are happening between now and Halloween at conferences and film festivals around America.
  • Special notes: I will soon be launching a paranormal storytelling podcast series!  More info on that in the future.
  • Next issue topic: A look at the mysterious life and death of Robert Johnson.
  • Instagram image of the month... with the Ghost Brothers!

Haunted Lake Geneva! American Ghost Walks

You don’t have to wait til autumn to take a historical, haunted tour, but there is something special about walking around outside among the crisp air with the leaves crunching under your feet.  In the last couple weeks, Wendy Lynn Staats from the “See You on the Other Side” podcast & I had the opportunity to visit a couple fun towns and get the grand, macabre treatment!

Lake Geneva is in southeastern Wisconsin, an easy destination whether you’re coming from Chicago or Milwaukee.  It is today as it’s always been, a resort town catering to out-of-towners looking for a beautiful, quaint and quiet destination.  The town’s modern history dates to the aftermath of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 when many wealthy Chicago families retreated to their Lake Geneva summer homes while the city lay in ruins.  However, the prehistory of native American habitation of the area dates back at least 3,000 years including mound builders who created effigy mounds in the shapes of a panther and lizard, which have unfortunately been destroyed in recent years.
 
The walking tour, one of several across the Midwest by operated by American Ghost Walks (click the banner to the left or click here to link directly to the Lake Geneva Tour) meets near downtown and takes place over the span of about 90 minutes where around a dozen sites are visited over the course of roughly one mile.  The hostess was fun and personable, decked out in a funky take on Victorian style, a fitting, colorful counterpart to Beetlejuice (minus the ghoulish makeup).
 
One off-location Lake Geneva site I would like to investigate further is the current Havenwood Apartment complex, which stands on the site of the former Oakwood Sanitarium.  The 1885 sanitarium boasted the latest techniques for treatment of the mentally ill, which, by today’s standards, was the dark ages.  It’s no wonder that the site began earning a reputation as a haunted location while it sat vacant in the 1950s.  Today, phantom footsteps and even screams are reported at the Havenwood Apartment complex.
 
Tempted as I may be, I will not talk about all of the locations on the Lake Geneva tour, but I will say that I was surprised to hear the tales of a frequently seen story of a 60-foot snakelike creature observed commonly by steamboat captains, the tale of a drown woman whose corpse is still sighted just under the water, generations later, and an exceptionally spooky spirit who... [keep reading here]

Upcoming Appearances:
  • Sept 27 & 28 - Mabel Tainter ParaNomicon, Menominee, WI - I'll be giving two presentations (event also features Grant Wilson & Sunspot)
  • October 6 - I'll be giving an all-day Lake County Illinois Bus tour through Chicago Hauntings.  BOOK HERE (lunch included).
  • Oct 11-13 - Imaginarium Convention  Louisville, KY - I'll be part of FIVE presentations on either the paranormal or storytelling in general (how to pitch your idea, navigating Hollywood, etc.
  • Oct 18-20 - Chicago Ghost Con, Chicago - I will be presenting and appearing at a vendor table all weekend.  Event also feautres Dave Schrader, Tim Dennis, Scott Gruenwald, Joshua P. Warren, Christoher Saint & Rachel Marie Booth & music from Sunspot.
  • Oct 24-Halloween - Austin Film Festival & Screenwriter's Conference, Austin, TX
Haunted Galena, IL - Haunted Galena Tour Co.

Switching from the resort town of Lake Geneva to Galena, Illinois, the former mining and steamboat town near the Mississippi River in northeastern Illinois.  It’s believed that Native Americans used this location to mine for lead for use in burial rituals two thousand years ago and the first European mining here took place during the French exploring/trading era of the late 1600s through the 1700s.  By the early 1800s shipping allowed the easy hauling of iron ore from the cite, leading to Galena becoming the first mining boom town in US history.
 
Today Galena is a beautiful, locked in time community… I mean literally locked in.  About 2.25 square miles of downtown is a preserved, historic district.  Of course, all that history, all that preservation helps those from the other side feel right at home here.
 
The Haunted Galena Tour Company, run by Ted Williams and Robyn Davis takes people through the downtown, occasionally even entering the historic sites, while pointing out favorable vantage points to try to capture paranormal photos while also showing some of the highlights of the best images caught on the tour.  I should also point out that they offer a “Spirits & Spirits Tour,” that is a haunted pub crawl that goes through three haunted watering holes.  Your $25 ticket nets you all of the history and hauntings at these places along with a specialty cocktail at EACH location.

 
That’s tough to beat, we imagine, but the history and hauntings walking tour was one of the best paranormal tours I’ve ever been on!  How could it beat a big city like Chicago or San Antonio?  Or a more exotic locale like Key West?  Easily, it turns out.  The key was in the presentation where Ted would go into a story for a more expected telling of the significance of the location and suddenly Robyn would appear and talk about a moment in history as if she were eye witness to the tragedy, giving way then for Ted to finish the tale by talking about the paranormal happenings that are observed to this day.  It is theatrical and there’s a million ways it could come off as cheesy or over-the-top, but the Ted/Robyn duo absolutely hit the right tone. Book your tickets by clicking here or the tour company logo above.
 
I know you’re saying, “Get to the damned ghost stories already!”  Well fine, pushy!  I’ll even reward your patience with a video clip.  It’s not uncommon for a walking tour to also feature a story about a location that’s too far to walk to.  In this case, it’s the Adly House, a site of an unknown number of murders.  Click on the video to hear the story directly from Ted & Robyn.
Ably House - Haunted Murder House Near Galena
In rapid fire teasing, the tour leads into the re-discovered room in the basement of the DeSoto Hotel where the lady in black, Galena’s most famous ghost, has been seen.  The tour swings by a former tombstone factory where the tour guides shared outdated (and seriously strange by today’s standards) funerary traditions.  A stop was also made at one of the more paranormal photo-friendly locations in town, the oldest structure in the city, the 1820s built Dowling House where the group was invited to try their best to capture something on camera.

 
One of my favorite reasons for taking a ghost tour in a new city is to find locations I can revisit.  One such location where people can do a little ghost hunting is... [click here to keep reading]
The Michigan ParaCon in Sault Ste Marie, MI is always one of the big highlights of the year for us.  On this installment, we were treated to watching the latest episode of "Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests" with the cast of the show.
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