On Halloween night in 2011, a group of my girlfriends and I went on the Haunted Alton tour in Alton, Illinois given by the folks at Mineral Springs Mall. All of us grew up in Alton so we were familiar in general with some of the history on the tour. Yet, we were not disappointed. We learned new details about the local legends surrounding the McPike Mansion, historic facts about the beautiful buildings along Broadway, and crawled through a slave tunnel.
I love taking pictures with my Canon Rebel XS and brought it along in hopes of catching something mysterious. However, I was disappointed throughout the evening because the camera kept acting up.
Normally, during an event like this that spans multiple hours, I easily take upward of 500 photos. Instead, I ended with 54. I should have had more – that was my plan – take photos en mass and increase my chances of catching something ghostly. Nothing ever goes to plan…especially when there are ghosts around.
To be fair, it was rainy out and dark – not the best conditions for photo taking. However, even in the buildings where the light should not have caused problems – I’d press the button and nothing would happen. Then, if it did happen to take a photo, it wouldn’t focus. Twenty-three photos are out of focus because the auto focus wouldn’t work. Then, the other half of the time, when it took a photo, the flash went off and blinded everyone. Fourteen of my photos are so flash blasted that any paranormal activity couldn’t be seen. Four of my photos are completely black.
Despite all of this – I still got some really, freaking creepy photos. The settings are a mix of automatic, no flash and manual settings. Honestly, I started the night using manual. However, the camera seemed to work the worst when in manual so I set it to automatic and prayed for the best.
The tour started at the Mineral Springs Mall in a large meeting room. There the tour guide explained about the various equipment they’d be using throughout the tour to record proof of paranormal activity. He did an initial demonstration of the EMF meter that detects magnetic fields and outlined what a normal level of activity looked like.
Then, we left the building and were off to the walking part of the tour. We crossed the street and walked up to the Enos Apartment Buildings on Third Street. This building is the most well-known remaining stop in Alton on the Under Ground Railroad. The Guide gave us a brief run down about the history of the building and then in we went.
When we got downstairs, I decided to set my camera to the automatic flash off setting. Doing so, created some pretty cool photo effects with the creepy, single electric light bulb.
In the first photo, we were just walking up to where the tour guide – guy in orange shirt named Wayne – had stopped. I snapped a quick photo and let a few people walk ahead of me and then snapped the second photo over their shoulders.
It was until much, much later that I realized I’d caught an unidentified glowing object toward the bottom of this photo. I don’t think it’s an orb. I also believe what most people call “orbs” are more often dust or droplets of moisture than signs of paranormal activity. Point and shoot digital cameras are really good at finding those kind of “ghosts.”
So I was skeptical. At first, I thought it might have been the LCD screen of a point and shoot camera that you can see the girl with the white long-sleeves using in the first photo. However, on closer inspection you can see her holding the camera further above the strange orb. Also, I thought maybe the older woman was holding something – maybe a flash light? However, in the first photo you can clearly see she doesn’t have anything in her hands. Anyone else got any ideas?
Regardless, it doesn’t look like a regular orb and is pretty creepy! And this was only the beginning of the tour. Next Monday I’ll post more photos including a sequence of a clear orb I caught moving in a window reflection of a room where an artist committed suicide and a second orb (probably dust, but still a cool photo) next to a teddy bear in the men’s pool which is haunted by the ghost of a little girl named Cassandra.
In the meantime, if you’re looking to do this Halloween season, I highly recommend Mineral Springs Mall tours, which are offered year round. Lasting 3-4 hours, it was well worth the $35-40 admission price which includes a mini-Tarot card reading. By the end of the evening, you will understand why Alton is considered the most haunted small town in America.