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Mysterious America

A Quick and Dirty Guide to Archer Avenue

Take a trip down Chicago’s most notorious road… if you dare.

Starting with Resurrection Cemetery and ending at St. James-Sag Church, this section of Archer Avenue in southwest suburban Chicago forms the northern border of a triangle of forest preserves, lakes, trails, and burial grounds that could easily be described as the most haunted area in Illinois.

Encompassing most of the Cook County Forest Preserve District’s Palos Division, this triangle is defined by the Calumet Sag Channel to the south, Archer Avenue and the Des Plaines River to the north, and S. Kean Avenue to the west. It is a hilly, wooded area filled with over a dozen small lakes and sloughs—shallow depressions that often fill with water during the spring and summer.

At the hinterlands of civilization, this area has a well deserved reputation built upon generations of strange encounters and creative storytelling. It is home to no less than ten mystery sites involving everything from hauntings, to unsolved murders, to healing springs, to the site of America’s second nuclear reactor. These locations dot the area on either side of Archer Avenue, with the majority falling inside the boundaries of the triangle.

The unusual qualities of this southwest suburban wilderness make it a favorite for ghost tours, paranormal researchers, and curiosity seekers alike, not to mention hikers, horseback riders, fishermen, and the many thousands who come there to escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city, if only for an afternoon. The roads there are long and dark, the lakes and parks remote, and the landmarks emerge from the shadows to capture the imagination of visitors.

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