Legend Tripping

Axeman’s Bridge

axeman's bridge crete illinois

Back in the woods, down Old Post Road in Crete Township, sits an abandoned bridge with an eerie backstory. This is Axeman’s Bridge.

Allegedly, sometime in the 1970’s a man lived with his wife and two children in rural Crete. With a modest house set back in the woods, away from prying eyes, the family lived in peace, until a rainy summer night. Without warning, the man snapped. After dinner, the man calmly rose from the dining table and walked out to his shed. He returned to the house, axe in hand, moving room to room, and hacked his wife and two children to death.

After the deed was done, the man hung his family’s bodies from the bridge that hosted the area’s traffic. The police found him hours later, sitting on the bridge next to his hanging family, his legs dangling over the edge while he whistled a somber tune. They say if you venture out into the woods by the bridge, you’ll hear soft whistling and the sound of metal hitting metal.

Today, the bridge has crumbled into the creek below it. All that’s left are the concrete supports and an overgrown road leading to it. But there is still energy that lingers there. Whether the legend of the Axeman is true or not, there is definitely a weird vibe in those woods, surrounding what’s left of the bridge.

As you get closer to the bridge itself, there is a heavy sense of foreboding that washes over you. The closer you get, the more intense the feeling becomes. I was out there with a friend of mine last week, and despite the strange feeling of being watched, I heard whistling. It could have been the birds, but it sounded like it had a distinct melody to it. Meanwhile, the friend I was with heard the sound of an axe hitting wood as he was about to take a picture of the bridge. I didn’t hear this, but he swears it was close and loud. It is worth noting that the nearest house is a quarter mile away.

If you’re going to visit and leave the main road to explore, please be careful. Further into the woods that surround the bridge are occult altars and barbed wire hidden in the grass and bramble.

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Legend Tripping

Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery and Woods

I thought about not including this location. I thought, “Ugh, Bachelor’s Grove has been done!” It seems like everyone has written about it. Everyone has a story.

Yet here I am, including it. I’ve joined the hundreds of writers that think they have something new to bring to the Grove table. But this location is so ingrained in my memory, in my childhood, that I felt like I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t include it, even if it’s just in the introduction.

Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery is the hidden gem of haunted places in the Chicagoland area, and some say, the United States. To get there, you’ll park in the Rubio Woods forest preserve lot, then make your way across busy Midlothian Turnpike on foot. You’ll see a chain across the path of the trail that leads to the cemetery if you know where to look.

Back when this was an active cemetery, that path was paved to allow for vehicle access. Now it’s a hidden, pitted foot path. Follow this path about a quarter mile into the woods and on your right you’ll see the old chain-link fence surrounding the few desecrated tombstones that are left.

When walking into the cemetery, an overwhelming sense of sadness assaults you. When you talk to your friends, you find yourself whispering. There is a distinct heaviness that settles over the place, and it is almost crushing.

Birds don’t chirp here, and although the very busy Midlothian Turnpike can be seen through the tree cover from inside the cemetery, the rumble of vehicles cannot be discerned. It is eerily quiet. This is a very odd place.

Growing up in the Chicago area, I have heard stories about Bachelor’s Grove cemetery and the woods that surround it. These were mostly ghost stories where the inciting incident had happened long before my time. But there are other stories; Stories featuring the living, some of whom wish to do others harm.

The stories I have of Bachelor’s Grove aren’t concerned with the cemetery’s ghosts, but with living people who often frequent those woods. The ones who practice the occult on the tombstones and seek to do other visitors harm. The very real and dangerous threat that stalks the cemetery and it’s woods.

When I was a teenager, a friend told me about her friend’s cousin’s (classic ‘friend of a friend’ beginning to an urban legend, right?) run-in with some bad people while out at Bachelor’s Grove. Apparently, my friend’s friend’s cousin went out there one night with a group of people to see if the ghosts were real. They made it down the path just fine and arrived at the cemetery. When they saw shadows shaped like people moving among the trees on the perimeter of the cemetery, they got spooked and booked it outta there. The group ran at full speed down the path, trying to get out of the woods, when the girl who was running the fastest at the head of the group fell backwards and landed flat on her back. Those of the group who saw it later said it was like someone shoved her shoulders back. Another in the group was close enough to the collapsed girl that she couldn’t stop running in time and ran into something sharp in the middle of the path. As it turns out, both girls were cut pretty badly by barbed wire strung from tree to tree across the walking path. They both ran right into it; The first girl had a deep gash along her throat, while the second girl had cuts on the side of her head. The wire was nearly invisible in the dark. Since the group had passed that spot on the way in without incident, someone must have strung the wire up while the group was in the cemetery. Someone was watching, and waiting.

I always thought my friend was making this up until, years later while doing research for one of my books, I found a news article published by the Chicago Tribune detailing occult happenings in Chicago’s woods, including a short blurb about police finding remnants of barbed and piano wire in the brush. I guess she wasn’t straight up lying to me.

Some of these stories are just that, stories, but some could be based in truth.

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