Grafton, Illinois, where the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers meet, is one of my favorite little river towns to visit when I’m in a ghost-hunting frame of mind. The drive is lovely, and Grafton is not far from where I currently make my home.
I have a friend, who as a child, lived in a small community located in the woods just west of Grafton, and he has certainly told me some very odd and fascinating stories about the area.
It is only recently that I learned of some ghostly tales regarding the beautiful lodge at Pere Marquette State Park, originally called the Piasa Bluffs State Park, outside of Grafton.
The park was named for one of the early explorers on the Mississippi River, Father Pere Jacques Marquette, a Jesuit priest.
The limestone and timber lodge in Pere Marquette State Park was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s on the former location of a Native American village.
A main feature of the lodge is an immense stone fireplace reaching fifty feet to the roof, and weighing 700 tons!
The apparitions appearing at the lodge do not seem to be causing any problems, and most of the staff members seem to take their manifestations in stride.
Employees at the Pere Marquette Lodge report seeing large images crossing through the lobby when no one is there.
The housekeepers working in the older part of the lodge have reported observing nightstands shaking “violently while everything else in the room remained calm.” For some reason, they felt inclined to call this entity “George.”
An old man is sometimes noticed “sitting by the fireplace,” although he disappears when anyone gets too close to him.
One of the park rangers has witnessed “a man wearing a Civil War uniform in the lobby.” Evidently at one point during the Civil War, a small detachment of Federal soldiers camped near the park to protect access to the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.
Sometimes employees feel that someone is brushing by them or that they are being touched by someone who isn’t visible. Usually these feelings occur in one of the rooms in the old part of the lodge, or in the lobby. One worker has reported seeing the two sets of heavy doors leading outside open and close by themselves.
The Pere Marquette Lodge is a peaceful and relaxing place to spend a weekend, and they actually do host “Haunted Hunts” occasionally. For more information, please check out their website: http://www.pmlodge.net/.
Kachuba, John B. Ghosthunting Illinois. Cincinnati, Ohio: Clerisy Press, 2005.