On October 6, 2006, my husband and I took a short but much needed vacation to the wonderful old spa hotel in Okawville, the Original Mineral Springs Hotel. When making arrangements for our "spa weekend," which would include a couple of massages, a steam bath, and trips to their Jacuzzi hot tubs in the original 1860's era mineral bath area, I read through their nicely presented website. I noticed there was a ghost story posted on one of the information pages. Since I LOVE real ghost stories, I read through the long history of the hotel and Troy Taylor's fabulous ghost hunting story at the very end, which discussed the several suicides in the hotel. What a great weekend this was going to be... An atmospheric hotel with an indoor heated pool, a full-service health spa, and an old-fashioned family style restaurant, all with a long history of ghosts reaching back almost 150 years! I had no idea what I was in for!
My husband drove us to Okawville on Friday afternoon, arriving close to sundown and with just enough time to check in, look around the hotel and eat a delicious leisurely late dinner. I have to say, although I like ghost stories, I really did not want to actually sleep in a haunted room! So I nervously asked the clerk if our room was one of the "haunted ones." She paused. A little too long of a pause! Then she tersely said, "You're okay." Oh, great! Our room, in fact, would turn out to be the location of one of the first of several paranormal experiences we would have over the 2½ day weekend!
Our Friday evening was fine. Aside from a suspiciously cold area near the doorway to our quaint room, which stayed cold even though the air conditioner wasn't working very well in the hot "Indian Summer," the room didn't feel as cold as the steep stairway leading up to the "old section" of the hotel. And it didn't have the feeling of spookiness that one of the corner rooms emanated at the top of the stairway, and not too far from our room. (I later found out that spooky room across from us is one of the most haunted bedrooms in the hotel.)
Maybe it was just fatigue from a very busy day, but I had a hard time getting to sleep. I kept feeling like someone was drifting up and down the hallway outside our locked door. (My husband heard footsteps following him on the carpeted hallway later that weekend, and it turns out others have had the same experience.) However, my paranormal experiences didn't really get started until late Saturday afternoon.
I was in the bathroom... I won't go into a too much information story! The afternoon was sunny, light was streaming into the bath and bedroom windows, and the bathroom door was open. I could see my husband sitting on the edge of the bed. Out of nowhere, we both heard a loud "clunk" over our heads that sounded like someone had dropped a heavy wooden box and immediately afterward, "Stomp stomp stomp," that sounded like three footsteps from a man's heavy leather boots... Right over our bedroom. The problem was the large room over us was a sealed and locked attic. And we would have heard the man's footsteps continue across the floor of the very large space. You can read the interesting history of the attic on their website. (We later found out from the manager that she is the only one with a key to the storage attic, she keeps it locked, and no one was in there that day.)
About half an hour later, my husband returned from the pool area. He told me he had the distinct feeling of someone breathing down his neck and following right behind him on one of the back stairways leading to the spa. On Saturday evening with a full moon high over the hotel, I had a truly unique couple of events occur in the mineral bath and massage areas. My husband and I were in the individual hot tubs with our little wooden cubicle doors closed. I was sitting and soaking, drinking the delicious ice water from the Original Mineral Springs Hotel's underground stream, which they provide in large pitchers for the customers. I turned my head and looked up at the ceiling, quite a few feet above the hot tub where I was lounging, just in time to see a white "something" fly past my cubicle. It was too high off the ground to be a person walking by, and it looked like the proverbial "white sheet" kind of ghost. It might have been the Lady in White, the fiancée of the first suicide in the hotel, which occurred in the 1800's. (If you go to the hotel, be sure to ask the clerk at the front desk to show you the creepy digital photo of the lady, taken during a Christmas season several years ago!)
My husband finished in his hot tub and went up the old wooden staircase, past the haunted balcony where many people have seen the Lady in White. He was in a closed cubicle with the masseur when I trailed after him upstairs a while later. I sat on one of the wooden lounge chairs, waiting for him to finish getting his massage. Even though he was only a few yards away from me, the waiting area was VERY creepy. I turned my head when I saw a movement, and there, about three yards away from my head, were two black "orbs," which looked like smoky grey large olives. One went quickly floating down and around a hallway toward an old men's room and the other floated past my head and into a cubicle with a cash register... And up into the ceiling tiles! I got up and looked where it had disappeared, and it was solid tile, no cracks or holes in the ceiling! (I later read on some paranormal websites that "dark orbs" are considered evil. I believe it. These clearly were not bugs, since they had no wings or heads, and they had a sinister atmosphere to them.)
On Sunday morning, I got a facial in one of the front rooms in the massage area. I kept feeling like a little hand was creeping up on my table, which was not a good feeling to have with goo on my face and covering my eyelids! (It turns out people in the pool area downstairs sometimes see a face looking out of the window of that room.) The rest of our morning was uneventful until we checked out and went home.
Well, that's pretty much my story. I hope you enjoyed it, and please feel free to make friendly comments, especially if you've ever heard anything about "dark orbs." I'd like to learn more. And I would highly recommend this great old hotel! Here's the information to reach them: Original Mineral Springs Hotel, 506 North Hanover Street, Okawville, IL 62271 Phone 618-243-5458