The 10 Best Myths and Urban Legends in Illinois

Every state has its share of urban legends, and Illinois has many of its own. Hundreds of stories based on real events somehow got distorted throughout the years, leaving us with often creepy and disturbing tales that often leave us wondering how and if they’re true. Some of the following urban legends are more far-fetched than others, but they’re all interesting nonetheless. 

1. The Thunderbirds

Back in the 1940s, monsters bird were sighted around Alton, Illinois on several occasions. Numerous people including policemen and a former army colonel reported seeing these giant birds, which supposedly were the size of a house or small aircraft, flying around the area. One of these gigantic birds almost flew into an aircraft, but swerved out of the way at the last moment. 

2. Big Muddy Monster

In June 1973, numerous sightings of a tall, white-haired creature were reported to the local authorities. A couple in a parked car near a boat dock seen this creature caked with mud and running toward them, then a child spotted it at the edge of the woods. The police recall smelling the stench left by the monster, and their dog tracked the scent to the barn, but it refused to go inside. 

3. The Gooseville Bear

The tale of the Gooseville Bear originated in August 1949 around Bethalto. It first appeared around Indian Creek, leaving a poor calf mangled. Shortly after, townspeople began reporting hearing growls at night and seeing its eyes in the darkness. The town became frantic and soon a posse of 150 men set out to track down the beast. After several nights of unsuccessful bear-hunting, the posse disbanded. 

4. Vanishing Man

According to this urban legend, a man died at a bus stop in Egypt, Illinois, many years ago. However, he continues to board the bus and then vanishes once the bus crosses over the bridge on the route. 

5. The Seven Gates to Hell

This creepy legend has several variations, but they all basically emphasize the various tunnels and bridges along the back roads near Collinsville. If you drive through all the “gates,” specifically the seventh gate at midnight, you will be sent to hell. According to one story, a group of students on drugs were driving around one night trying to locate all seven gates and ended up missing the last entrance, crashing into the concrete supports. The car was demolished and they all died, but some people have reported seeing lights from their car drive around the area.

6. Stump Pond Serpent

From 1879 to 1968, fisherman experienced encounters with a water creature featuring a thick, green body and black fins. Known as the Stump Pond Serpent, it supposedly was large enough to rock fishing boats. Nobody ever caught the creature, and many assume it was just a giant catfish. 

7. Resurrection Mary

As one of Illinois’ most famous ghosts, Resurrection Mary is a girl dressed in a 1930s party dress who walks along Resurrection Cemetery, where she was buried decades ago. She was hit by a car while walking home from a party at a ballroom. Dozens of drivers have picked her up and offered her a ride, but she always disappears from their cars. Drivers have also reported accidentally hitting her and hearing a thud, while other times they drive right through her. 

8. Hull House Devil Baby

Jane Addams’ Hull House has been performing great works in the community for years, but it’s connected to an urban legend that won’t subside. According to the legend, a woman gave birth to a devil baby and then took him to the Hull House, where Jane Addams’ raised him in the attic until he died. People have claimed to see the little devil baby’s face throughout the house. 

9. Cohomo Monster

On the night of July 25, 1972, the East Peoria Police Department received over 200 calls from people claiming to witness a monster similar to Bigfoot in Tazewell County. He was said to have an awful smell, similar to rotten eggs. Many volunteers went out looking for the monster, but nobody ever found it. 

10. McPike Mansion

Considered one of the most haunted buildings in Illinois, the McPike Mansion is an Italianate-Victorian mansion looming over Alton. The current owners transformed the building into a bed and breakfast, but has claimed to have seen the ghosts of the previous owner and the servant girl around the property. 

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