As the leaves fall and the air grows crisper, people all over Milwaukee are getting in the Halloween spirit. This year, the way we celebrate All Hallows’ Eve is going to look different. One way to celebrate safely during the coronavirus pandemic is to seek out one of the many outdoor areas in Milwaukee that claim to be haunted.
Anna Lardinois is the author of Milwaukee Ghosts and Legends and the creator of the Walking Milwaukee. She says there are many outdoor spots in Milwaukee where people have described having supernatural experiences — and you don’t have to venture far to find them.
Here are five haunted spots to visit in Milwaukee, which were featured in this month's Milwaukee Magazine:
1. Grant Park
“What is carved in the wood, ‘Enter these wild woods and view the haunts of nature,’ and I think that people have interpreted that to mean it’s haunted, but that is not the intention of the phrase that is carved there,” Lardinois says.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t haunts to be had. Park-goers have reported seeing apparitions appear on the bridge in Grant Park and hearing ghostly screams coming from deep in the woods along the trails.
2. Lake Park
“The stories are all about the Lion Bridge, and people talk about walking across the Lion Bridge on a sultry summer day and feeling cold spots,” she says.
Many people point to Lake Park’s history of effigy mounds built by native communities as a source of these apparitions. While most of the mounds have been destroyed, one still exists in the park. This is a great spot for a spooky walk and to learn more about the history of pre-colonization Milwaukee.
“People claim that they see a footless, gauzy white apparition of a young woman kind of near the pond area by the waterfall and they claim that when she catches sight of them it looks like she is going to approach them, but she is interrupted by the sound of a ghostly baby crying,” she says.
“Calvary gets on the list, not because of the ghostly tale I shared, but just because of something I find extremely fascinating — and that is that it is the final resting place of one of the priests who was involved in the exorcism that eventually became the movie The Exorcist,” she says.
Father Walter H. Halloran was a young priest at the time and was asked to assist in the exorcism because they needed someone strong to help hold the boy while exorcising the demon. He taught at Marquette for three years during the '60s and eventually passed away in 2005.
"To his dying day, he never really weighs in on whether or not he believes that there was a fight between good and evil in those rooms in the 1940s," Lardinois says.
“That’s where the newer graves are and people who are sensitive report having a real reaction in this area. They talk about having terrible headaches, feeling of acute fearfulness, a panic almost while they’re there,” she says.
Don’t worry, these issues subside after leaving this area of the cemetery.