As motorists make their daily commute down Route 16 through Shelby County in south central Illinois, nondescript scenery flashes past their car windows. The landscape is a maze of cornfields, small towns, and modest farms. When you pass through the small town of Tower Hill, nothing looks out of the ordinary, but if by chance you exit and turn off the main road and travel through the countryside following one of the many narrow roads in the region, one road leads you to a whole different world, a world that would be missed at 60 mph on your normal daily routine.
County Road 1100E will lead you to one of the strangest mystery spots in central Illinois: Williamsburg Hill. Williamsburg Hill is located in the south central part of Illinois, near the small community of Tower Hill. The cemetery is not hard to find, as it sits atop this hill, which stands 810 feet, making it the highest elevation in downstate Illinois.
At one time, the thriving village of Williamsburg (also called Cold Spring) sat on a ridge near the top of the hill. The village of Cold Spring was founded in 1839 by Dr. Thomas Williams and William Horsman. Several of the Horsman family members are buried on Williamsburg Hill both in Ridge Cemetery and on private property located on a farm on the other side of the hill. Cold Spring survived as a thriving village for some 40 years. At one time, the village housed a blacksmith shop, doctor’s office, two churches, and a saloon.
Today, very little remains of what was once Williamsburg/Cold Spring. The remnants of the village are covered by trees and underbrush and are hidden from view. A few families still live nearby, secluded from the hustle and bustle of the big city life. But do they live alone?
Hidden amongst the trees and underbrush is a very odd place, called Ridge Cemetery. Although located off the main road, the graveyard is easily found by looking for a tall microwave tower that can be seen from miles away. Once you arrive at the tower, you turn immediately left and follow the road about a quarter mile. What you will notice when traveling down this narrow gravel road is that you feel like you are driving through a tunnel. This is due to the close proximity of the trees in this highly forested area. You will have the feeling that you are in the middle of nowhere, and in some respects you are right. But what you do not expect to see is what awaits you at the end of the road: a place shrouded in mystery.
When I first heard the stories surrounding Ridge Cemetery, I expected to find a desecrated graveyard overgrown by weeds with broken tombstones. To my pleasant surprise, the cemetery is very well maintained, but well maintained or not, it is the strangest and the oddest place that I have visited in the eight years that I have been a paranormal investigator.
As a paranormal investigator, I have been to secluded locations and cemeteries and have visited many of these places alone. What separates Williamsburg Hill and Ridge Cemetery from other places that I have been to is that I sometimes get the feeling that I have taken a step back in time. It is like I have discovered a lost world, a lost world alive with some type of spiritual or cosmic intelligence. If you venture down the road a night, you will find a very dark and frightful place, as the shadows seem to move and come alive. That, along with the feeling of being watched, is enough to keep most away after the sun sets.
I have been in the cemetery many times, during both the day and at night, and I never know what to expect when I get there. Sometimes, I arrive at the cemetery and everything feels normal and is as it should be. Other times, I get the feeling that there is a presence, a presence that does not want me to be there…
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