‘Haunting Illinois’ Hits #5 in the Rankings

Yesterday morning, my new book, Haunting Illinois: A Tourist’s Guide to the Weird and Wild Places of the Prairie State, briefly hit #5 in the category of Travel/Midwest and 31,755 out of all books on! That means more and more people must be sensing that there is something different about this book from anything that has come before it.

Even if you already own the first edition, Haunting the Prairie, you won’t want to miss upgrading to the new version. Haunting Illinois lists 200 haunted or unusual places from ever corner of the state, 70 more than the original version. Plus, this version has many more pictures and new icons, and an exceptional cover photo by the very talented Rachel Black, who has won awards for her photography of the ruins of Manteno State Hospital.

Don’t take my word for it, see what other people have said about the first edition of the book, then judge for your self if it is worth it to buy the new!


Haunting Illinois is Now Available

Haunting Illinois: A Tourist’s Guide to the Weird and Wild Places of the Prairie State is now available for order on If you are a lover of Illinois ghost lore, you won’t want to leave the house this summer without this book!

For over a decade, Michael Kleen, author of the Legends and Lore of Illinois, has researched and traveled to mystery spots all over the Prairie State. Now, he has created the most organized and comprehensive guide to haunted and legendary places ever written about Illinois. Haunting Illinois is that guide. Haunting Illinois contains 200 mystery sites and 85 individual illustrations.

In this book, Michael not only examines the sites, but also the hobbyists and professionals who have devoted their lives to exploring the strange and unusual in our great state. Divided among eight distinct regions and listed by county, each location features a description, directions, and sources drawn from a diverse variety of books and articles. Haunting Illinois challenges you to get off the couch and start exploring our wonderful State of Illinois. You might be surprised at what you discover!


On the Scene with Ghost Adventures

On Friday, I found myself in the company of the Travel Channel’s most famous ghost hunters. Zak, Nick, and Aaron had come to Coles County in order to film an upcoming episode of their hit show Ghost Adventures at Ashmore Estates, a former almshouse and care facility in Coles County. Knowing I had written extensively on the history and folklore of the building, Scott Kelley, its current owner, suggested that they interview me for the episode.

For a week I spoke back and forth with Jeff Bellinger, Writer/Researcher for the show, but I was kept in the dark about their final decision until Tuesday. That Friday afternoon, eager to see my old friends at Ashmore Estates and meet the crew of Ghost Adventures, I drove 182 miles – a three hour trip – from western Illinois to the outskirts of Ashmore on the other side of the state.

From what Scott tells me, the Ghost Adventures crew wanted to do an episode on Ashmore Estates several years ago, but scheduling conflicts prevented them from working out a deal. Finally, the stars aligned and it couldn’t have been a better time. For my part, I was eager to contribute to the episode. Not only will this show attract more attention to the area, but hopefully it will encourage tourism and bring a much needed economic windfall to my beloved Coles County. Here are a couple of pictures from the filming:

Zak, Nick, and Aaron from Ghost Adventures, and I

Ghost Adventures Crew at Ashmore Estates, March 29, 2011


It’s Here: ‘Haunting Illinois’ 2nd Edition

After months of preparation, editing, and travel, a totally revised and expanded edition of Haunting the Prairie is here. Published by Thunder Bay Press, this edition is called “Haunting Illinois: A Tourist’s Guide to the Weird and Wild Places of the Prairie State.”

It contains 200 locations and 85 pictures, with brand new icons! Also, it features cover art by the very talented Rachel Black. I personally visited many of the new places listed in this book, so that I could bring my readers the most up-to-date information possible.


“Orwellian society closer than we think”

By Robyn Winker
Western Courier
March 11, 2011

What if instead of continuing to reject totalitarian ideas in the United States, we slowly began to embrace them? And even worse, what if we didn’t even notice it was happening?

Thursday, students gathered in Western Illinois University’s Morgan Hall to hear Michael Kleen’s discussion entitled, “What Is Totalitarianism?” Thoughts were challenged and several points were made to compel attendees to question the intentions of the government. The lecture suggested that while we are not a totalitarian country, we have all of the necessary components to put the ideology in place.

The purpose of the presentation was to explain the realities behind totalitarianism and look at it as a form of social control, not simply just a form of government. In addition, this presentation helped students realize that the media representation of totalitarianism doesn’t match the reality.

According to Kleen, “Totalitarianism is total state control over both public and private life. There can be varying degrees of totalitarianism, but essentially it requires two things: the tools and the ideology. The ‘tools’ of totalitarianism are state control over industry, mass surveillance, state-run media, cults of personality, political oppression, strict gun control, etc.” Alone, these tools do not translate to totalitarianism. Only when they are partnered with ideology will totalitarianism become a reality.

Read the entire article here…


What is Totalitarianism? A Special Presentation at WIU

Join me at Western Illinois University in Macomb for a special presentation of “What is Totalitarianism?” sponsored by the local chapter of the Young Americans for Liberty.

Thursday, March 10 · 7:00pm – 10:00pm, Morgan Hall 316
Check out the event on Facebook and invite your friends!

“Is Big Brother watching you? Join Michael Kleen as he discusses the reality of totalitarianism in the contemporary world and explains how some individuals, even with good intentions, are bringing us closer to George Orwell’s nightmare.”

If the United States came under the control of a totalitarian regime, would we recognize it? This and other provocative questions are asked and answered in my reading of “What is Totalitarianism?” (Part 1 and Part 2) which will include a presentation on the reality of totalitarianism (defined as “total state control”) in the world today.


Happy Halloween!

As many of my readers know, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Over the years, I’ve been privileged to be featured in and interviewed for a number of articles on haunted places all over Illinois. From a historian’s point of view, newspaper articles never lose their value over time, even though most people simply read them and throw them out that same day. Let’s take a look back at some of these articles from recent years.

“‘Tales of Coles County’ features spooky stories,” Daily Eastern News (Charleston) 28 October 2010.

“Sunset Haven: the Asylum That Never Was,” Volunteer News (Carterville) 7 October 2010.

“Sunset Haven: A Rich, Mysterious History,” Daily Egyptian (Carbondale) 11 August 2010.

“Local Haunts — Author explores ghostly tales across Illinois,” Streator Times (Streator) 24 June 2010.

“Three Coles County legends are detailed in book,” Journal Gazette (Mattoon) 27 April 2010.

“Grad student masters the macabre,” Western Courier (Macomb) 15 February 2010.

“Charleston is Haunted,” Daily Eastern News (Charleston) 30 October 2009.

“The Science of Spirit-Sleuthing Part III: Local Lore,” Rock River Times (Rockford) October 28, 2009.

“Publication highlights Moon Point Cemetery,” Times (Streator) 1 June 2009.

“Real Folklore,” Daily News (Effingham) 21 February 2009.

“Pemberton’s legend, Mary,” Daily Eastern News (Charleston) 31 October 2008.

“Twisted tales,” Times-Courier (Charleston) 23 October 2007.

“Ghost Club hunts for haunts,” Daily Eastern News (Charleston) 8 October 2007.

“Student author gets creative with Coles history,” Daily Eastern News (Charleston) 28 October 2005.

“Strange Occurrences,” Daily Eastern News (Charleston) 28 October 2005.

“Haunting Club,” Daily Eastern News (Charleston) 29 October 2004.