Swan Lake Resort Ruins

Also known as the Stevensville Hotel, Swan Lake Resort sits at 1626 Briscoe Road in Swan Lake, south of Liberty, New York. From the 1920s to the 1970s, New York City Jews flocked to Catskill resorts in the summer months to escape the stifling heat of the city. There were once over 500 resorts and hotels in the area, known as the “Borscht Belt“.

With increasing religious tolerance and the advent of widespread commercial airliners, many families chose to vacation elsewhere and dozens of these establishments now lay abandoned. An Orthodox Jewish group purchased this particular hotel in 2015, but it remains unused.

The Vishnu Springs Ghost Town

A few miles west of Macomb, Illinois, deep in the woods outside the small village of Colchester, sits the remnants of Vishnu Springs. Since its final abandonment in 1982, this ghost town has attracted curious college students who have heard stories of the crumbling old hotel and weed-choked natural springs.

Headlines like “Vishnu Springs: Is the old place haunted?” and “Western’s Haunted Secret” entice students to risk fines for trespassing down the long, dark trail into the woods to catch a glimpse of the graffiti-sprayed clapboard facade of the old Capitol Hotel. A once-thriving resort community, Vishnu Springs has captured the imagination of visitors as much in its afterlife as it did in its heyday.

What remains of its three-story hotel, once majestic and full of energy, has become a haven for students from Western Illinois University looking for a thrill. Some of these unwanted visitors have returned with stories of harrowing encounters with the unknown (as well as with law enforcement, who routinely patrol the grounds).

According to author Troy Taylor, Vishnu Springs is home to a number of restless ghosts. It is rumored that Maud, wife of Vishnu founder Darius Hicks, died in childbirth in one of the rooms of the Capital Hotel, an event that left an “impression” behind. In Haunted Illinois (2004) Taylor claimed, “Visitors also told of sounds from Vishnu’s past, echoing into the present.” These sounds are remnants of an earlier, happier time dating back to the founding days of Vishnu Springs.