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Article updated: 10/12/2012 6:20 AM

A hauntin' you will go -- by trolley, boat or even Segway

Kevin Frantz tells a ghost story outside the old Nichols Library as leads Naperville's Official Ghost Tour.

Kevin Frantz tells a ghost story outside the old Nichols Library as leads Naperville's Official Ghost Tour.

 

Daily Herald file photo by Bev Horne/bhorne@dailyh

A mist trails Historic Ghost Tourís Diane Ladley during a daylight investigation at an Elgin cemetery. She insists the photo was not staged or doctored.

A mist trails Historic Ghost Tour's Diane Ladley during a daylight investigation at an Elgin cemetery. She insists the photo was not staged or doctored.

 

Courtesy of Diane Ladley

Oak Park Segway teams up with Greenline Wheels and Rickshaw Rick for the Haunted Squeals on Wheels: Oak Park Spooky Tales Tour.

Oak Park Segway teams up with Greenline Wheels and Rickshaw Rick for the Haunted Squeals on Wheels: Oak Park Spooky Tales Tour.

 
Seadog Haunted Tours focus on Chicago River tragedies involving Fort Dearborn and the Eastland Disaster.

Seadog Haunted Tours focus on Chicago River tragedies involving Fort Dearborn and the Eastland Disaster.

 
Take your dog along to do some ghost investigating in Aurora and Naperville as part of the Ghost Tails Dog Walk and Ghost Tour.

Take your dog along to do some ghost investigating in Aurora and Naperville as part of the Ghost Tails Dog Walk and Ghost Tour.

 
Hop aboard a Haunted Trolley Tour in Volo.

Hop aboard a Haunted Trolley Tour in Volo.

 
Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours' Haunted Halloween Tour offers up a high-tech way to find out about Chicago ghost stories.

Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours' Haunted Halloween Tour offers up a high-tech way to find out about Chicago ghost stories.

 
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By Scott Morgan

When most people think of local ghost tours, they picture crowds piling in and out of tour busses or following storytelling guides on foot.

But nowadays spectral-seeking groups can also choose from ghost tours on bikes, boats and high-tech Segways. There's even a special tour where you can bring along your dressed-up dog.

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Though several companies offer ghost tours year-round, October is unquestionably high season thanks to the Halloween holiday, and advance reservations are practically de rigueur by the end of the month. So to stand out, many dedicated ghost tours plan specially focused options this month, while other general sightseeing tours add some Halloween flavor.

Here's a sampling of the different kinds of ghost tours available. Pick your area of interest or mode of transportation and get ready for a good fright.

Haunted Trolley Tours


Start location: Volo Auto Museum, 27582 W. Volo Village Road, Volo
October tours: On the hour between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through Oct. 28
Running time: 45 minutes
Cost: $17.95; $12.95 for kids
Restrictions: Guests should dress warmly; tour is not wheelchair accessible
Age appropriateness: For all ages
Contacts: (815) 385-3644 or volocars.com
What's special: Volo Auto Museum employees and family members had different ghost tales about the property through the years. But a Haunted Trolley Tour was only created once the Volo Auto Museum was featured in a 2009 episode of the Discovery Channel series "Ghost Lab." The show's investigators detected a shadowy presence in the Antique Mall, while other people have claimed sightings of a uniformed Civil War soldier.

"We just got so many people coming to us asking what's happened around here," said Volo Auto Museum director Brian Grams. "That's when we decided to develop the Haunted Trolley Tour to share the stories."

Featured as an add-on to the Treasure of the Vault Tour which features special vehicles not on general display, the Haunted Trolley Tours include visits to a 19th century cemetery and buildings tied to suggested paranormal activity.

Ghost Tails Dog Walk and Ghost Tour


Start locations: Two Brothers Roundhouse, 205 N. Broadway Ave., Aurora; Two Bostons Pet Boutique, 103 W. Jefferson St., Naperville
October tours: 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, in Aurora; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, in Naperville
Running time: About two hours and 15 minutes
Cost: $25; dogs free
Restrictions: Owners must keep gentle dogs on a leash and have supplies to clean up after them. Aurora tour not wheelchair accessible.
Age appropriateness: For ages 8 and up
Contacts: (630) 978-7033 or hauntedhometowns.com
What's special: Haunted Hometowns president and founder Diane Ladley oversees Historic Ghost Tours of Naperville and Aurora, plus a Ghost Hunt Tour of Elgin. But Ladley only created the Ghost Tails Dog Walk and Ghost Tour when one of her friends asked if she could bring her dog along on a Naperville tour.

"I thought, 'Boy, that's a great idea! Why don't I incorporate that with the Humane Society?'" Ladley said in bringing about the fundraiser, which has expanded this year to Aurora to benefit the Fox Valley Animal Welfare League.

Dog owners can dress up their dogs to compete for prizes, and bring them along to help out with the ghost hunting which includes access to Electromagnetic Field (EMF) sensors. And Ladley says the dogs might also be able to help sniff out ghosts.

"On my very first Naperville Ghost Tails tour, we had a grand total of two dogs," Ladley said with a laugh. "When I started telling the story of Charlie Yellowboots outside of Pfeiffer Hall, both of the dogs (who were just lying on the sidewalk) suddenly jumped up on their feet and started staring at a particular spot and growling ... It lasted for a good 10 seconds."

Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours' Haunted Halloween Tour


Start location: 238 E. Monroe St., Chicago, near Millennium Park
October tours: 6:15 and 8:45 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday in October; haunted tours offered at 8:30 p.m. Thursday from May to late September
Running time: two hours
Cost: $65
Restrictions: Guests should dress warmly and weigh between 100 to 260 pounds
Age appropriateness: For 14 and older; those under 18 must be accompanied by a guardian
Contacts: (312) 552-5100 or chicagosegways.com
What's special: Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours already offer Haunted Chicago tours in and around the Loop to locations like "Death Alley" and the site of the Fort Dearborn Massacre on Thursday evenings from May through late September. But for the added Haunted Halloween Tours in October, comic improvising guides get dressed up in creepy costumes to train guests on how to ride Segways and lead the tours.

"It's just so much fun," said Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours president Timmie Cortina. "It's such a great alternative to a haunted house and the Segways are so easy to ride."

Another Segway tour company, Steve's Segway Tours, also offers a 2Ĺ-hour Haunted Chicago tour by appointment starting at $75 per person. Visit stevessegwaytours.com for information.

Haunted Squeals on Wheels: Oak Park Spooky Tales Tour


Start location: 715 Lake St., Suite 200, Oak Park
October tours: 6:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m. for Segway training) Saturday and Sunday through Oct. 28
Running time: 90 minutes
Cost: $44
Restrictions: Variable depending upon mode of transport; 14 or older for Segway
Age appropriateness: All ages
Contacts: (708) 574-1134 or oakparksegway.com
What's special: Oak Park Segway typically provides Segway tours of properties designed by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. But this October the company is teaming up with Greenline Wheels and Rickshaw Rick to co-sponsor an Oak Park Spooky Tales Tour that aims to uncover the dark side of this suburb. Participants can choose to travel either by Segways, cruiser bicycles or rickshaw.

>Bobby's Fright Hike: Halloween Edition


Start location: Bobby's Bike Hike, Ogden Slip at River East Dock, 465 N. McClurg Court, Chicago
October tours: 7 p.m. Wednesday and Friday, then nightly through the last two weeks of October
Running time: three hours
Cost: $49 online
Restrictions: Guests should dress warmly and be able to ride a bike
Age appropriateness: All ages
Contacts: (312) 915-0995 or bobbysbikehike.com
What's special: For those who want to get more of a workout in addition to great ghost stories, Bobby's Bike Hike is offering its first Fright Hike tour. It's an eight-mile journey around town ranging from a former cemetery in Lincoln Park, to discussions of the 19th century mass murderer H.H. Holmes. The tour includes access to a bike, a helmet and a fit guide.

Seadog Haunted Tours


Start location: Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago
October tours: 6:15 p.m. Friday through Sunday and at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31
Running time: About an hour
Cost: $28.95; $17.95 per child
Restrictions: Guests should dress warmly
Age appropriateness: All ages
Contacts: (888) 636-7737 or seadogcruises.com
What's special: Costumed narrators take speedboat guests through the "locks of Hades" to learn about infamous mass-death sites involving Fort Dearborn and the capsized ship Eastland among other supernatural occurrences tied to the Chicago River.

"This year we've really revamped the tour to have more Halloween characters," said Elizabeth Noyes, director of sales and marketing for Entertainment Cruises. "It's really to capture the spirit of Halloween while incorporating it into Chicago's history and architecture."

The Official Ghost Tour of Naperville


Start location: Central Park, 50 S. Washington St., Naperville
October tours: 8:30 and 10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12 and 19 (7 and 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 26); 7:30 and 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13 and 20 (also 10:30 p.m. Oct. 20; 6:30, 8 and 9:30 p.m. Oct. 27); 6 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday (7:30 p.m. only Oct. 14); 7 p.m. Halloween tour Oct. 31. Walking tours continue select weekends in November and recommence in the spring. Bus tours are available during winter months.
Running time: About 90 to 120 minutes
Cost: $25
Restrictions: Guests should dress warmly; walking tour is wheelchair accessible
Age appropriateness: For ages 16 and older
Contacts: (630) 205-2664 or hauntednaperville.com
What's special: Author/ghost investigator Kevin Frantz just focuses on Naperville for his ghost tour and personally leads it as much as possible. Frantz credits his books, "Naperville, Chicago's Haunted Neighbor" and "The Grave Robber Next Door ... A Love Story," for his tour's ongoing popularity.

"This is also the cult of personality when it comes to this industry," Frantz said, noting how people often would go on tours with well-known people, like the late ghost hunter Richard T. Crowe, who passed way this past June.

"They want to go on the tour with the author of the book."

Weird Chicago and Illinois Hauntings Tours


Start location: 600 N. Clark St., Chicago (near McDonald's)
October tours: Regular schedule is 7 p.m. Friday, and 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday, though extra tours have been added for October
Running time: About three hours
Cost: $30; $20 kids ages 12 and under
Restrictions: Guests should dress warmly; tour includes getting on and off tour bus
Age appropriateness: For ages 10 and older, though select tours are for adults only
Contacts: (888) 446-7859 or weirdchicago.com
What's special: This ghost tour also specializes in other topics, ranging from Prohibition gangland sites, serial killers and Chicago's former Red Light District. There are also haunted bus tours available of other Illinois cities like Decatur, Jacksonville, Alton and Lebanon.

Chicago Hauntings Tours


Start location: 600 N. Clark St., Chicago (near McDonald's)
October tours: 7 and 10 p.m. Monday through Friday; 6, 7, 9 and 10 p.m. Saturday; 4, 7 and 10 p.m. Sunday; other specialty tours available
Running time: About two hours
Cost: $34; $30 seniors; $25 kids ages 8-12
Restrictions: Guests should dress warmly; tour includes getting on and off tour bus
Age appropriateness: Some content might be too scary for small children
Contacts: (888) 446-7891 or chicagohauntings.com
What's special: Ursula Bielski, author of such books as "Chicago Haunts," "Graveyards of Chicago" and "Creepy Chicago," is connected to this Chicago Ghost Tour. Specialty tours include examining the locations tied to 19th century serial killer H.H. Holmes and a forthcoming tour tied to Chicago's Chinatown.

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