Is Will County Historical Museum Haunted?

Will County Historical Museum

The Will County Historical Museum has many historic stories to share, and many ghosts to share them

Paranormal Claims at
Will County Historical Museum

  • A rocking chair in the building reportedly rocks on its own
  • An apparition is also sometimes seen sitting in the rocking chair
  • The voice of a young boy has been heard and recorded by investigators
  • Small, child-like footsteps reportedly follow people around the museum
  • The ghost of a former curator reportedly yells at people and throws books
  • Audio anomalies and possible voices have been recorded in the museum vault
  • An apparition of a woman in a black dress has been seen in the doctor’s office
  • Medicines in the doctor’s office have been heard shifting and clinking together
  • EMF anomalies have been reported in the annex
  • There have been claims of footsteps and shadows in the annex’s record stacks

Will County Historical Museum’s
Storied Past

On the busy State Street thoroughfare in Lockport, Illinois, nestled close to hip, modern eateries, cafes, and music venues, is the oldest extant building in the city. Now the Will County Historical Museum, the white, wood frame building looks somewhat out of place on a street of commercial blocks, but only because it represents an era long before the urbanization that it helped bring.

Once an administrative center for the Illinois & Michigan Canal, the Will County Historical Museum building served as the commercial heart of the early township before becoming the historic soul of the expanding city.

Its community importance continues today, as countless visitors come to take in the exhibits, learn local history, and absorb downtown Lockport from the long, inviting front porch. But modern visitors might not be the only people patronizing the old building today, as claims of paranormal encounters have become more common.

It seems a few ghosts have taken up residence at the Will County Historical Museum to be closer to the relics that remind them of home, or to be closer to the people who work tirelessly to preserve their memories.

Timeline of Will County Historical Museum's History

Swipe or use timeline points to see Will County Historical Museum through the years


Before there was Lockport, there was the Illinois & Michigan (I&M) Canal. The I&M Canal project began with surveys in 1824, with the goal of connecting the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River via the Illinois River.

Work on the canal began in 1836, and though it was slowed by the Panic of 1837, progress never ceased, and by the mid-1840s, the canal’s commercial potential to every town on its route became apparent. To help manage canal commerce and operations, the administrative building was built in Lockport in 1837.


When the I&M Canal opened in 1848, the single-story administrative building, perched just a few feet from the canal shore, quickly became a focal point.

Canal boat captains had to stop in the building to report cargo and pay tolls, and canal leadership maintained all their operations from the little building. It wasn’t long until the building needed an expansion, adding a two-story residence for the canal superintendent and a vault for sensitive documents in 1876.


By 1914, the I&M Canal was superseded by the Sanitary & Ship Canal, completed in 1900. The new canal was deeper and wider, and helped resolve pollution issues in Chicago. But, luckily for the Lockport headquarters, the old I&M administrative building was also used as a headquarters for the Sanitary & Ship Canal during its operation.

The I&M Canal remained a secondary route until it was replaced completely in 1933. After that, the old headquarters in Lockport went dormant, no longer a focal point of state commerce.


In 1972, the canal headquarters in Lockport was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and soon after was converted into the Will County Historical Museum, with the old offices and residence becoming exhibit rooms, and the former canal vault becoming a safe for the most valuable historical records.

The building has educated and informed the community ever since. And, in that time, stories of ghostly encounters have also become common at the museum as visitors and staff alike report unexplainable happenings.

Will County Historical Museum’s Haunted Rocking Chair

The most famous haunting at the Will County Historical Museum has since become an exhibit itself. In one exhibit space in the museum sits a rocking chair holding a framed photo of John Lane, a local developer of steel plows in the 1800s. Lane reportedly died while sitting in the chair, and the chair has become infamous for rocking on its own while in museum storage.

Museum staff have even captured the rocking movement on video, with no known cause for how it happens. Since moving it into the exhibition space, staff have noted the rocking has calmed down, but that visitors and staff still sometimes see the shadowy figure of John Lane sitting in his favorite rocker.

Ghost of ‘Champ’ at Will County Historical Museum

Another ghost often encountered around the Will County Historical Museum is that of a young boy. Though no one knows his name, many have taken to calling the boy Champ, thanks to numerous EVP and Instrumental Trans-Communication (ITC) recordings collected by investigators of a young voice repeatedly saying, “Hi, Champ.”

The ghost of Champ is known to be talkative, both on recordings and through audible disembodied voices. He is also known for following people closely around the museum, with many now claiming they hear small footsteps chasing them no matter where they go.

Will County Historical Society’s
Phantom Rose

Another phantom said to lurk through the museum actually comes from modernity. A former curator, Rose, reportedly remains around the museum even after death.

Rose is said to be very protective of the museum and its artifacts, and she is sometimes heard yelling directions at people, while telling others simply to leave. And, to some folks in particular, Rose is said to become malevolent, throwing books around rooms, and even at certain people when she can.

The Spooky Doctor of Will County Historical Museum

Claims of strange activity have also been reported around the exhibit of Dr. William Dougal, an early Lockport doctor and Civil War veteran. Racks of his glass medicine bottles have been heard shifting and clinking together, often in response to questions from paranormal investigators.

Further, an apparition has been seen lingering in the area of Dr. Dougal’s office, said to be a woman in a long, flowing black dress.

Spirits in the Vault at
Will County Historical Museum

Paranormal experiences have even been reported in the museum’s vault. Some say the young boy spirit, Champ, follows investigators there to stir up activity, while others figure vault phantoms may have to do with the large number of artifacts stored there.

Regardless of the source, investigators have recorded audio anomalies and possible EVPs in the vault, as well as had seemingly intelligent ITC communications with spirits in the vault.

The hauntings of the Will County Historical Museum aren’t limited to the museum itself either. Some have reported paranormal activity in the museum annex nearby. Unexplainable EMF anomalies have been noted in the annex building, particularly around an old horse drawn carriage stored there.

Additionally, the annex is home to library stacks of city records, an area where footsteps and even the occasional shadow figure have been reported.

Ghost Hunting at
Will County Historical Museum

Though the Will County Historical Museum keeps busy with shifting exhibits and visiting research teams, they also remain open to visitors seeking out their spirits. Paranormal investigations at the museum have become increasingly common in recent years, helping to spur donations and interest towards the historic building.

Anyone hoping to book an investigation at the museum today only has to reach out to them via email at or over the phone at (815) 838-5080 to settle on a booking. From there, the ghost hunting experience at the Will County Historical Museum will only depend on how playful Champ is feeling that day, or how many annex apparitions want to show themselves.