Adventure Travel

7 Haunted Prisons to Tour This Halloween

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Haunted Prisons

There are places in this world where so many bad things happen that they leave an echo on that place forever. The sense of dread, the hair on the back of the neck standing up, the feeling that you are being watched, or the deep feeling of sadness are sensations that tell us something is different about a place. Prisons are places with a concentration of bad people doing bad things. Unlike a haunted hospital or asylum, the people in a prison did something bad to get there, and they usually did bad things while there.

A prison has a different energy from a hospital – dark energy. It is no surprise that the imprint of negative energy on these places can bring with it spirits in a state of unrest. This is why abandoned prisons are some of the most haunted places in the world. Here is a list of some of the most haunted prisons that you can tour. So, this fall when you are looking for a way to get your socks scared off, take a trip to one of these places.

Alcatraz: San Francisco, CA

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Also known as “The Rock,” Alcatraz was home to the worst of the worst inmates in the U.S. This was a place that people were sent to be forgotten. From the moment you step inside of the facility you can feel the heavy and dark feeling. This island was considered to be haunted long before a prison was built upon it. The Ohlone Native Americans believed that evil spirits lived on the island. Guards and inmates reported countless instances of paranormal activity, and the phenomenon has not eased any since the prison was closed in the 60s. The island is not only one of the most haunted prisons in the country, but it is commonly thought of as one of the most haunted places on earth. There are several tours every day, and you will have to take a boat over to the island from pier 33 in San Francisco.

The Ohio State Reformatory: Mansfield, OH

This prison was used in the cult classic film The Shawshank Redemption. The reformatory opened in 1896, and the first prisoners finished building the prison. The facility closed in 1990 after a class action suit by the inmates that claimed the prison was overcrowded and inhumane. Over 200 people died during the years of the prison’s operation. Many stories of haunting have come out of this Prison, and there are even tours where you can visit the paranormal hotspots. The prison has tours every weekend, and you can check their website for tour times and prices. The Ohio State Reformatory also houses the haunted house called “Escape from Blood Prison” every year in the fall. This is one of the most haunted prisons in the U.S. 

Old City Jail: Charleston, SC

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The Old City Jail in Charleston is called the most haunted building in the city. The jail pre-dates most facilities. It opened in 1802, and even housed civil war POWs, and pirates. People have reported hearing voices, footsteps, slamming doors, objects moving, and chains dragging in the jail. The TV show Ghost Adventures did an investigation on the premises, and got recordings of one of the ghosts talking about the devil. The jail hosts tours every night. Check their website for times and prices.

Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary: Petros, TN

This prison is out in the middle of nowhere on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee. The maximum security prison was in operation from 1896-2009, with a four year closure in the 70s due to unsafe conditions. The prison housed James Earl Ray, who shot Martin Luther King, and he escaped in 1977 for 58 hours before he was returned to the prison. The prison has had many reports of paranormal activity. The facility was recently bought by a private company that makes whiskey, hosts concerts, and gives tours. There are tours, including  an all night affair, as well as whiskey distillery tours.  

Pottawattamie County Squirrel Cage Jail: Council Bluffs, IA

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The Squirrel Jail is a smaller jail with a big paranormal presence. The facility was built with the wedge shaped cells built in a circle on a system that rotated to allow access to only one cell at a time. This meant that the other cells were severely isolated. The mechanism that rotated the cells was known to tear off limbs, and when it broke down, could isolate an inmate for several days without food or water. The facility was in operation from 1885-1969. The jail now hosts tours three days a week. You can find the times and cost on their web site.

West Virginia Penitentiary: Moundsville, WV

This prison was in operation for almost 120 years (1876-1995). The facility hosted riots, fires, and the execution (by hanging or electrocution) of 100 inmates during that time. The facility was ranked in the top ten most violent prisons by the US Department of Justice when in operation, and 36 homicides took place in the facility. The prison is considered one of the most haunted places in the United States. The prison hosts daily tours, ghost tours, overnight ghost investigations, an escape room, and a Halloween attraction called “The Dungeon of Horrors”. Check their great website for all of the details.

Eastern State Penitentiary: Philadelphia, PA

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This was the United State’s premier prison when it opened in 1829. The Eastern State Penitentiary was the most famous prison in the world, as it housed some of the world’s worst. The building and the methods of the guards were designed to make the inmates truly penitent, and this is where the word penitentiary comes from. This facility was also the birthplace of solitary confinement as a correctional tool, and the punishments that the facility used were more like torture. The facility has hosted many paranormal TV shows, and, aside from being a haunted prison, the place is generally considered to one of the most haunted places in the United States. The stories of paranormal activity began in the 1940 from inmates and guards. The prison has daily tours, and during the Halloween season, the prison hosts the haunted attraction “Terror Behind the Walls” with a separate haunted attraction in each of the five cell blocks. Check out their website for all of the details.

We hope that we have inspired you to explore some haunted adventure this fall. We hope you will check out these haunted prisons.