Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Gangsters & Ghosts, Welcome To Willow Springs Il.

Published on ChiTownView Nov 13, 2012

Willow Springs is a small town located between Archer Ave. & the Des Plaines River. It is about twenty miles southwest of downtown Chicago. If you drive down the main drag Archer Ave. these days you find a quiet town without much to slow you down. But it is a town with a past. One that includes a mayor who ruled the town for thirty five years and chief of police disposing of bodies for his mobster friends.

One of the corridors for the development of Illinois was along the Illinois & Michigan ship canal that was built in the 1830's and later replaced by the Chicago Sanitary Ship Canal which helps provide the only shipping link between the Great lakes and the Mississippi. They've turned this stretch of the canal into a nice little nature preserve with a bike/hiking path but in the 1970 & 80's it was a dumping AND burial ground. A place where some 70 cars were ditched as part of an insurance fraud scam run by a mob connected lawyer, Alan Masters and two high ranking policemen. James Keating head of the Cook County Sheriffs intelligence unit and Mike Corbitt chief of the Willow Springs police.

In 1982 the Feds had uncovered the scam and divers were sent into the canal to look for the cars. Inside the trunk of one of those cars was the body of Mrs. Masters. The subsequent investigation revealed the car was put there by Keating & Corbitt. The was tried, convicted Keating is dead and Corbitt has since been paroled. His book "Double Deal" is what brought my attention to this community. And from here you can almost see the police station.

Willow Springs has cleaned up it's politics and built a new development of offices and apartments. It might seem a little sleepy now but for almost thirty years this was a wide open town. "Doc" Rust was mayor during that time and this town was a mecca for gambling and prostitution. You see in 1924 Chicago elected a reform mayor William Deever which caused the Torrio/Capone mob to seek small suburban communities they could "take over". Towns like Cicero, Summit, Willow Springs among others became safe havens for mob activities. Little remains this sinful past and not much has been written about those years.

Except on the western edge where stands a pair symbols of the towns wild & haunted past. The Willow Brook Ballroom was a mecca for big band music for decades. In the past it also had a casino in the basement. This is also the starting point for Resurrection Mary a legendary ghost hitchhiker seen along Archer Ave. We have a separate video posted below.

Across the street is a joint that opened in 1915 as O'Henrys and had gone under a number of names since. It was built before the Willow Brook by the same guy that owned O'Henry's. One of several tunnels in the basement here leads across the street. During the 20's & 30's it was brothel and the scene of several violent events including murder. These events have led to a number of paranormal manifestations that have been reported from time to time.

The present owners do not welcome any explorations or discussion of these alleged manifestations,

For more about Resurrection Mary follow this link.http://www.prairieghosts.com/resurcem...

This clip was produced by MindsiMedia and it is part of our series "Chicago Crime Now & Then" where we explore the windy city's rich history of organized criminal activity.

Visit our web portal to explore the rest of our world.

Theme music "Constancy Part 2" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons "Attribution 3.0" http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b...

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