Illinois January 08, 2017
The Eerie History Behind This Former Resort Town In Illinois Is Downright Bizarre
Hidden in McDonough County near present-day Macomb lies a former resort town with an incredible story. This small but beautiful plot of land has been reinvented many times over, and has picked up an interesting history along the way.
The beautiful midwestern valley, full of bluffs and caves to explore, has long drawn visitors.
Many believed that the La Moine River had healing properties.
Thousands of visitors would come to the river, sometimes purchasing many jugs of the mysterious water from the land owner of the time.
In 1886, a parcel of land along the river was given to Darius Hicks in his father's will.
Hicks quickly got to work, and opened The Capitol Hotel in 1890. It immediately drew large crowds, and the town of Vishnu Springs quickly sprung up around it.
The hotel was the pride of the town, until a series of events led to its demise.
A man was crushed to death after falling into the gears of the merry go round. The hotel was being run poorly, and in 1896, Darius's wife passed away. The hotel's fate was sealed when Darius married his stepdaughter and moved away, outraging the community.
The decaying town sat for decades until Ira Post purchased the property in 1935.
He and his wife, Reatha, opened the property to visitors. Even beyond Ira's death, his wife kept it open for others to enjoy. Then, in 1954, she closed the gates to outsiders due to vandalism.
College students eventually rented the hotel from the Post family in the early 1970s and revived the property.
During this time, the former hotel turned into a hotspot for hippie culture.
The young people held concerts, maintained a garden, raised livestock, and hosted festivals.
The place was alive again, but that didn't last long.
The former hotel quickly fell back into disarray.
Though more attempts were made to bring the town back to its previous state, nothing quite worked out.
In 2003, the land was gifted to Western Illinois University (WIU) by Ira Post's granddaughter.
The area was renamed the Ira and Reatha T. Post Wildlife Sanctuary, and is now utilized by the school's ecology classes, among others.
The Friends of Vishnu group hosts occasional open houses, allowing visitors inside the old structure.
These events draw those who enjoyed the property in the 1970s, along with others who simply appreciate local history.
Over time, WIU and the Friends of Vishnu hope to raise enough funds to renovate and repurpose the original structures.
Time will tell if this former resort town will be restored to its former glory.
Do you have memories of visiting Vishnu Springs? Have you dropped in at one of the open houses? Let us know about your experiences in the comments.