“Vishnu springs isn’t a ghost town”¦ It’s a corpse,” the man said melodramatically from behind the counter. Offering only his first name, Al, he recalls the story of Vishnu Springs in Northern Illinois where many avoid to stay away from the eerie history of this once quaint resort town with mysterious healing properties that was prematurely abandoned. And after it was abandoned, it’s said, ghosts roam the area.
Al looks grizzled beyond his years. After serving two tours of duty overseas he has clearly seen his fair share of action. And the fact that he’s missing three fingers on his right hand that he feels no need to replace with prosthetics only serves to embellish his cantankerous spirit. Juxtaposed with his hard exterior is his tone. It quickly turns from grizzled general anger to fear as the town of Vishnu Springs comes into conversation.
It all started in the 1870’s when a group of travelers were led to a small spring and told to drink by a mysterious figure, or so one legend goes. As they drank from the waters they found their ailments mysteriously vanish less than a week later. In addition to healing traditional ailments, the water was said to be good for the spirits and heal mental disturbances as well.
Soon after a town was to be founded, and dubbed Vishnu Springs after the Hindu god. Hailed as a place of miracles, the small town, built by Darius Hicks soon bloomed into a small resort as people would stop in by the thousands to partake of the miraculous healing waters.
Vishnu Springs quickly became a healing boom town. But like the boom towns of those days, it met its share of problems as well. It was soon apparent that the city wasn’t doing well when people started leaving for unexplained reasons. People would just vanish into the night, so the story goes, leaving behind them no trace aside from their empty houses that they had ever been there in the first place. Soon visitors stopped coming for whatever reason. Perhaps it was the stories of bizarre rituals that went on in the town.
Perhaps it had something to do with the mysterious figures and ghostly apparitions that were spotted in the surrounding area. No one knows for sure, or if these stories are anything more than folklore of the area coming back to haunt a once thriving community that is now dead.
One thing is for certain, those I interviewed about the surrounding area were most definitely averted to the idea of ever visiting. They told stories of mysterious lights spotted around the area. There apparently are still thriving rumors of religious rites performed under the cover of darkness and by torchlight in the area. It’s curious to note that such religious practitioners would find it necessary to keep their practices secret when acceptance of religious freedom is thriving.
So is the legend surrounding the mysterious ghost town of Vishnu Springs reality? Or is it merely an abandoned town that has earned some notoriety for its strange history and occasional reports of mysterious entities spotted in the area? It’s hard to say.