ALTON, IL HISTORY        Now known as The Mineral Springs Mall, which specializes in antiques, this location have undergone extensive renovations since the inception of its transformation. What were once hotel rooms are now quaint shops, although there are traces of the hotel's past still intact like the elaborate tile flooring.        The beginnings of the hotel trace back to brothers August and Herman Luer, German immigrants who originally settled in St. Louis and opened a meat-packing plant there. When his wife fell ill, August moved to Alton to take advantage of the clean air and the supposed medicinal rewards of the mineral springs located there. In 1881 he opened a meat-packing plant there and 12 years later his brother Herman joined him. Over the years the business thrived and the Luer brother diversified their interests, eventually establishing Alton Banking & Trust.        In 1909, the brothers had designs on building an ice-storage plant on the site of their packing plant. This seemed to fit in quite well with their other business and seemed more cost-effective, but in drilling for the building's foundation a year later, a natural spring was hit. The Luer brothers were told the water had medicinal qualities and it was suggested they cancel plans for the storage facility and instead build a resort/health spa there.        In 1913 construction began on the resort. A bottling plant was established on the lower level and the hotel was built floor-by-floor on top the that. By September of 1914, the hotel was open for business. Swimming and bathing pools were constructed and the therapeutic water was pumped in. Despite no hard evidence to prove the value of the "treatments" people flocked to the place hailing its healing qualities. Bottled water from the springs became a hot-selling item and a cure-all for everything ailing mankind including alcoholism.        The 1920s saw the hotel at its peak with visitors pouring in from all over the country. In 1926, August Luer sold the property to investors and it continued to prosper into the 1960s where eventually it began to succumb to decay and indifference. From 1971, when the hotel finally closed into the early 1980s the property saw its share of ups and downs, changing ownerships and functionalities.        It was about this time that the ghostly sightings began.        Here, as in many reputed haunted locations it is necessary to discern fact from myth. Stories have a tendency to become embellished and take on a life of their own and it becomes difficult to draw a distinction between compelling evidence and urban legend.   THE HAUNTINGS        One particularly haunted spot is the basement swimming pool. While a story has made the rounds about a man being knocked into the pool by a jealous wife and coming back from the dead for revenge, no account of this happening exists as it should for an event of this nature occurring in the 1920s.        But the pool has been the sight of some very unusual and eerie activity. Footsteps are often heard in this area by visitors and paranormal investigators who visit the location. No valid explanation for why this happens can be found as of this point in time.        In 2002, an employee of the mall reported hearing running or splashing water coming from the pool area. As it had not seen water for years, he became quite alarmed thinking a water pipe had perhaps broken and was flooding the area. Upon entering the room, the sounds of water stopped and everything was dry. As he began to leave he noticed something on the floor and bent to examine it. What he saw shocked and frightened him. It was set of wet footprints coming from the pool and abruptly stopping a few feet away.          The basement area has also been the sight of some strange activity during tours given there by author and American Ghost Society founder Troy Taylor on his Alton hauntings ghost tours. From the altonhauntings.com website:        "We also had some strange incidents that occurred during our Alton Hauntings ghost tours around this same time. One night, a friend of mine, who was a police officer in St. Louis, came along to assist me with a large tour group that we had. One of our last stops was in the basement of the Mineral Springs and as we were getting the group together to leave, he later told me that he noticed a man who veered off from the group and started walking away down a side corridor. He followed what he assumed was a guest, to bring him back to the group, for some distance and then around a corner. When my friend walked around the same corner, he discovered that the man was gone! Whoever this person had been, he had simply vanished. In 2003, another incident occurred during an Alton Hauntings Tour and was experienced by several witnesses at the same time. We were again in the swimming pool area and I was recounting my experience with the ghostly footsteps that I had heard and was doing so with the entire tour group standing in complete darkness. At one point, I turned on a flashlight for a moment and then turned it off again. A few minutes later, we turned on the lights and several people came up to me and reported that during the moment that I switched on the flashlight, they saw a man standing at the edge of the pool --- a man who was not there when the lights were turned on again. They described the man, and even looked for him, but there was no one fitting his description in the group."        The staircase off the lobby area is reputed to be haunted by the spirit of what is called "The Jasmine Lady". In 1925 a female guest stumbled down the staircase and died as a result of the accident. Guests have been said to have observed the "replay" of her fall and a strong scent of jasmine perfume is said to linger around and about the staircase.        Another phenomena said to surround the staircase is a fairly strong cold breeze that actually moves objects located around it, including wind chimes that seemed to just freeze in place as the breeze ended. This has been witnessed and felt by many guests and employees over the years.