The Ghosts of Starved Rock

GHOSTS, ORBS Add comments
Wildcat Canyon

Wildcat Canyon

Above is a friend’s picture from a winter visit to Starved Rock State Park in Utica, Illinois.  He knew of my interest in anomalies and showed me this photo with a strange pink glow at the bottom of the Wildcat Canyon.   He mentioned he’d heard that someone had died falling into this canyon.  I thought it might only be an optical effect, but because he mentioned someone died there, I thought I’d look into it.

Starved Rock Park is a beautiful destination, but as it’s name suggests, it had a grim beginning.  Its name comes from a story from the 1700s.  In a conflict between Indian tribes, a band of the Illinwek fled to this rock after being pursued by another tribe. Trapped on top they were held under siege, and eventually starved to death.

Orb at Starved Rock Park

Orb at Starved Rock Park

I visited Starved Rock Park last summer myeslf.  I even got an orb photo.  One thing I noticed was how precarious the paths were.  There are few railings, and some very narrow walkways along the canyons and precipices.  We had to really pay attention to where we were walking.  We stayed there late, almost too late as the sun was started to go down.  Deep into the park, I realized we’d better get out of there fast.  To be trapped in the park at night would be putting our lives at genuine risk.  One misstep could lead to disaster.

Over the years Starved Rock has been the scene of terrible tragedies.  Most infamous was the brutal 1960 murder of three vacationing women at St. Louis Canyon.  Here is a Time Magazine article that describes the terrible story.,9171,826120,00.html

Every year at Starved Rock someone falls after wandering from the trail and suffers injury or death.  Most recent was a 21-year-old graduate student who leaned against a branch, which broke, and he plunged to his death 80 feet below down the Pontiac Canyon.

In 1991 a 13-year-old boy died after falling 30 feet down the Aurora Canyon while playing with other children.

In 2006 a 14-year-old boy fell 65 feet to his death down Wildcat Canyon after climbing too close to the edge.

In 1999 an 8-year-old girl fell to her death down Wildcat Canyon.  The sad story is at this link: (Geocities no longer hosts websites, so this link as gone away.  It had some really interesting information and I will try to contact the individual who owned the site and ask if I can post some of their information.)

Update: There has been a new tragedy at Starved Rock State Park.  The body of a 53 year old woman was found at the park’s river trail at an area known as Eagle Cliff.  A curious quote: “Investigators do not believe the woman was a victim of foul play and do not believe she had an accident that led to her death.” This story is below:
Starved Rock body identified as missing Evanston woman
February 7, 2010

Update: Another death at Starved Rock Park.  Here is the news story, from July 15 2010. Hiker Dies After Fall At Starved Rock

Update: In our blog comments Terri gave us an important link to a resource connecting to long lost Geocities. Now we have a link to previously unavailable content concerning Starved Rock.

parkIs Starved Rock haunted?  Is this picture above a reflection of the tragedies at Wildcat Canyon?  Does something still linger there?   When young people die it creates a powerful influence on our surroundings.   It’s awfulness creates a residue.  Lets hope it really is only a trick of lighting.   Otherwise Wildcat Canyon might be a well of souls.

40 Responses to “The Ghosts of Starved Rock”

  1. Dyan Says:

    Greetings! I really enjoyed your post on Starved Rock! I’ve awarded you the Triple Award. You’ll find it on my blog: http://blog.voiceoftheangels.


  2. David Says:

    Thanks Dyan! And you have a great blog. I recommend people visit voiceoftheangels.

    When I checked out the photo my friend gave me, I really had no idea about people dying at Starved Rock, and especially children, in the Wildcat Canyon. As I did a little research I was startled and saddened. Now I look at that picture with a new awareness.


  3. t'mara Says:

    this picture could be nothing more than a reflection of the sun on the water below. the pink color could be due to distortion in the camera, or the reflection could have been color altered in a photo application, or caused by ink malfuncton in the printer.

    why are people so quick to jump to ridiculous conclusions? every goofy photo is not proof of ghosts. orb photos are nothing more than moisture, dust particles or insects. ever notice that ghosts did not appear as orbs until digital cameras were in use? that’s because it is a function of the digital camera.

    there very well might be something ghostly going on at starved rock, but this photo, while interesting, proves nothing. interesting background information though.

  4. David Says:

    I agree with you T’mara, it could merely be an optical effect. 99% of the time a strange light on a photo is nothing. But I do believe that sometimes “something” can get captured on film or digital. The only time I consider the possibility of something more is in the context. Regardless, nothing is proven. As for the ghosts of Starved Rock, that refers more to the tragedies that occurred there then anything else.

  5. t'mara Says:

    wanted to add that your website is beautifully designed, i like the balance of dark and light.

  6. David Says:

    I checked out your site, you have a nice one too!

  7. Brahma49 Says:

    That top photo with the pink circle of light–I don’t buy it. After studying the photo, I see that the pink light is over the right hand tree rather than from behind it. Also, the snow cover tree branches should at least be darker or shaded to some degree if the light was behind it, even washed out some.

  8. David Says:

    Hi Brahma49,

    The photo is probably only an optical effect. But what remains a mystery to me is the serendipity, the synchronicity, involved. That is the real mystery!


  9. Timon Weller Says:

    It does look like a paranromal effect, alot of the time these are seen more easily on camera but not visually, is because the camera can see more than the mind and is not biased.. Sounds like an amazing place.

  10. David Says:

    Hi Timon, I agree that the camera sometimes captures something paranormal. Which is why the context of the event is so important. What happened at the time of the photo? To have a strange light appear where young people tragicly died makes me wonder.

  11. Timon Weller Says:

    Yeah and also if you look up pink energy seen in images it often represents a spiritual doorway. It is common apparentely in many sacred site areas. Truly amazing image this one.

  12. David Says:

    And pink is considered a girl’s color. A little girl died in that canyon.

  13. Arlene deWinter Says:

    The photo is very interesting. I don’t know what I think about orbs but I have seen plenty of ghosts. As for orbs though, I visited my sister in rural Massachusetts on a visit home after living in haunted old London for 8 years. The second night I was there my sister said she was woken up in the wee hours by a bright light coming in the window. She got up and looked out and said she saw a huge orb of light moving across the back yard. Now my sister is an accountant, totally practical. I had to believe her because she just doesn’t see things! She said she knew it came with me. She also had no idea that I had been practicing magic. So don’t be so quick to dismiss the spiritual worlds…

  14. David Says:

    Hi Arlene, I take people’s paranormal experiences seriously. Something is going on out there! Too bad your sister didn’t have a camera handy. I would have liked to see that picture. :)

  15. Kia Says:

    I recently learned that Starved Rock is where my grandfather and aunt who was 13 at the time drowned and died in 1970. I’m looking into finding out more about this place.

  16. David Says:

    Hi Kia,
    I would like to hear more about your story. When you have more details, please leave a comment.

  17. Amy Says:

    Hi, I found your site while trying to research after my grandmother discovered a couple of startling pictures when she got her pics developed from her starved rock visit. I would like to get your opinion, can I email them to you?

  18. David Says:

    Hi Amy,
    I would love to see those pictures! You can email me at davidspirit@ I look forward to checking them out.

  19. Josie Says:

    Do you know of any information on the 8 year-old girl who died in Wildcat Canyon? I had an interesting experience and would like to know a little background.

  20. David Says:

    Hi Josie,
    Unfortunately the site with information about the 8 year-old was on Geocities, and Geocities no longer exists.

  21. kaylee Says:

    Hello everybody!

    A great compliment to your blog. Very loving and very informative. Greetings from a fortune.

  22. angie Says:

    i heard that there is a story bout and indian girl died. what should be done is call taps (the ghost hunters) or email them.

  23. Sadie Says:

    If there is anyway you can find any information or an online newspaper article about the 8 year old girl named Lacy that would be wonderful. I have been looking for the obtuarary article and I cannot find anything. I would love to know the story. In my town no-one really knew what happend her family never said. She was best friend when we were growing up until that dred-ful day. I no-longer have the obtuarary article. I would love to see her face agian. And it seems that newpaper was the only one that posted it. This would mean the world to me.

  24. David Says:

    Hi Sadie,
    I saved the site before Geocities went out of business. I can’t post other people’s material on my blog. wish I could. I sent you an email of what I saved. Hope you find it helpful.

  25. Les Says:

    I went to starved rock on a vacation with my son, I will look throught my photos more carefully and send you anything I find. loved the article!
    Thank you,

  26. David Says:

    Hi Les,
    If you examine your pictures carefully, you might spot an anomaly. Starved Rock is a fun place, but at the same time it is a dangerous place. I hope to return this summer and take more pictures of the places where some have perished.

  27. Julie Stroebel Says:

    Hi Dave,
    Fascinating examination of the phenomenon and great conversation and insights sparked by your thoughts. I would love to include your insight in our newspaper’s upcoming Starved Rock magazine. We have ghost stories galore in this region of Central Illinois. Please shoot me an email if you’d be interested in talking.

  28. Heather Says:

    I took a picture today of my husband and son and there is like 12 orbs floating in the picture with various colors in them. I dont know the name of the canyon, but its the one closest to the exit. Ive never seen anything like it in any of my pictures before.

  29. terri Says:
    link to information about Lacy.

  30. David Says:

    Hey Terri,
    You found this website, thank you! It is a really big part of the legend of Starved rock. I didn’t know an “” existed. For anyone who imagined I was blowing smoke with this “vanished” website, here it is. I respect people’s copyrights and I don’t cut/past other’s original content. I never imagined it would reappear! Again thank you for the post:

  31. Mike Betters Says:

    In the fall of 1976, I was at the park and a man fell he hit the wall on the way down and landed in the water which was about 3 feet deep. My friends and I went down and pulled him out and stayed with him a couple hours until rescue came by boat. We then went on the boat to an ambulance and the was the last I saw of him. I was wondering if you know who this was and if he made it. We were in a group travelling so I never found out anything. If you could help me find out what happen to the man I’d really appreciate it. I have always wondered. Thanks Mike

  32. Barb' Boyd Says:

    Does anyone know of a list of people who have fallen or died at Starved Rock ? I was there about 1950 or 1951 with my family . A young woman /girl fell from a level above us . When we reached her , my dad hurried to get me out of there so I wouldn’t see the horror . The quick glance that I remember was a young woman on the ground , on her back , blood coming from her mouth . Other family members stayed to help. I was told much later that she died . Who she was has always haunted me .

  33. John Jorgensen Says:

    Do you have information regarding a camping tragedy that happened in either the 70’s or 80’s, where I believe 4 boys pitched tent at night on Starved Rock. Then in the morning one of the boys awoke to find that his three friends had each gotten up during the night only to leave the tent and then walk of the edge of the Rock. Apparently the opening of the tent was just feet away from a fall into the river.

  34. David Says:

    Hi John,
    I never heard of that story. How tragic. Thanks for letting me know about it, I will do some research.

  35. Susan Goldberg Says:

    One of my neighbors fell to his death from Starved Rock sometime between 1963 and 1969, first name Micky. Any info on that? He lived on 82nd Street in Chicago.

  36. David Says:

    Hi Susan,
    I don’t know anything about this tragic incident. Doing research from the 60’s is tough. But I’ll look into it.

  37. mike Says:

    Does anyone have any info about a man who fell in the fall of 1976? Thanks MB

  38. Patrick Cisneroz Jr Says:

    I had to work at Starved Rock in 1965 in March and probably part of February. I was in a correctional facility, located in Morris Illinois. at that time I knew nothing of the past murders only the tale of the Indian tribes. we were driven from Morris to starve rock almost everyday. I didn’t find out about the murders until around 1990. I got a real spooky feeling when I found out, we had to chop wood for the enormous fireplace located in the lodge. that is when I learned to use a sharp axe, shovel snow while it was still snowing. I still think about the park every now and then it was very beautiful. too bad for all the sad stories that it happened there. most people never come near me,my brother tells people im
    crazy. maybe I was haunted there goodnight tell tale hearts.

  39. Bob Says:

    Where did you get the pic of the white orb

  40. David Says:

    It was taken by a friend at Starved Rock.

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