The Tragic Truth Behind the Ghost Elephants Legend in Illinois
It's been said that where there is smoke, there is at least a little fire. That saying is accurate when it comes to the urban legend of ghost elephants in a cemetery in Illinois. There is a tragic truth to this tale that is far worse than the urban legend it inspired.
In a recent breakdown of the "scariest urban legends" in each state by Titlemax, in Illinois the story of ghost elephants in Woodlawn Cemetery in Forest Park is #1. There's no need to add an supernatural flavor to the real life tragedy that this legend is based on. It's all very true and very sad.
If you visit Woodlawn Cemetery, you'll see a marker that describes what happened on June 22, 1918 involving a train carrying circus performers.
The area of Woodlawn Cemetery where those that lost their life that day is called Showmen's Rest. As Wikipedia mentions, this is a 750 plot section which includes a mass grave of up to 61 souls that were laid to rest...many were unrecognizable from the carnage of that accident. Yes, many animals lost their life in that train wreck, too.
As if the truth were not sad enough, many residents near Woodlawn Cemetery claim you can hear the elephants wailing at night.
This is one of those urban legends where the telling of supernatural aspects isn't really needed. The horror of that night in June of 1918 is terrifying enough. Many that visit the graves there leave circus memorabilia in remembrance of those who entered eternity that night.
The next time you're near Forest Park, Illinois, Woodlawn Cemetery is worth a visit if you're interested in the history that is laid to rest there. Even without the sound of elephants at night, there is plenty of real sadness there already.