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The Gate beckons those who dare to seek.
The locals all know the stories, but few will talk. The authorities deny that anything ever happened.
In 1925 an orphanage opened on the property behind the gate. Known as the Katherine Dodridge Kreigh Budd Memorial Home for Children, it closed sometime before 1950 under mysterious circumstances. Some say it burned to the ground, but that may have happened later.
There isn’t much to tell, really. About eighty children were present the night it happened. There were a few staff members around, but not enough to stop the tragedy. Some say that one of the employees went insane that night. Others tell of an escaped inmate. All that is known for certain is that on that misty night long ago, four young victims were killed and their severed heads placed on the posts of the gates. When the grisly discovery was made in the morning the fiend was gone and only his gruesome evidence remained. The locals were so horrified that the orphanage was immediately closed and the residents transferred to another nearby facility. One night soon after, the building burned to the ground, and nobody tried to put out the fire. Some said it was just a fire, but most knew it was done in an attempt to erase the scene from the land and from memory. As if that could happen.
Sometime after 1950 the St. Francis Boys Camp opened on the land. It didn’t last long. Campers frequently complained of noises in the woods at night. The smell of smoke unsettled everyone and the mist off the lake often made it appear that figures were walking nearby. On occasion the moonlight would shine on the gates just so, making it look like blood ran from the posts.
After the camp closed up the forest closed in. The land was reclaimed by nature, but the unnatural remained. To this day, brave or foolish teenagers who hear the stories seek the Gate at night. Some have their own stories to tell.
If you dare, you may visit the Gate yourself. There you might discover clues that will lead you along the path that the killer may have followed while making his escape. Beware what you may find, and seek it only at your own peril. I make no promise of your safety.
Begin your search at the Gate. Count the number of fleur-de-lis on both gates and subtract the number from the North coordinates, then add the number of victims. Count the fleur-de-lis on the top of the southernmost gate, then multiply the number by ten and add the total to the West coordinates. (Yes, those really are the coordinates!)
This will lead you to a tree which, if you listen carefully, will give up the secret to the location you seek.
Online spoiler logs will suffer the same fate as the first four victims.
Do not leave your car parked next to the Gate or you may find that it has disappeared upon your return.
Lake County residents may park for free at Independence Grove Forest Preserve. All others must pay a fee. $5 Mon-Thurs, $10 Fri-Sun.
There is alternate parking off Rt120 or Milwaukee Avenue on the Des Plaines River Trail system if you wish to park for free, but it will extend your hike.
(No hints available.)