Ghost Stories: Top Haunted Historic Prisons Best Western Experience | Travel Zone by Best Western

Ghost Stories: Top Haunted Historic Prisons

By Virginia Brown

From the eerie Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia to the historic Old Idaho Penitentiary Site, and several in between, the skeletal remains of now-defunct correctional facilities share some seriously spooky pasts. Grab your flashlight, take a deep breath, and step inside the walls of these top haunted prisons. 

Missouri State Penitentiary 

Located in Missouri’s state capital, Jefferson City, the Missouri State Penitentiary opened in 1836 and was once dubbed the “bloodiest 47 acres in America” by Time magazine. Local guides who’ve lived in the area for decades share accounts of the gruesome experiences endured by inmates within these crumbling walls. 

Of particular interest is the cell of boxing heavyweight champion Sonny Liston, who, as the story goes, learned how to box here—from a priest. The sound of coins dropping when no one is around, a sudden and noticeable chill in the air, and inexplicable brushes with figures that no one can see are all reports from visitors and guides alike. Sign up for a private two-hour guided ghost tour for eerie accounts from several buildings on the historic grounds.  

Book your stay at Best Western Plus Capital Inn. 

Eastern State Penitentiary 

Cackling voices and shadowy spirits are common experiences inside Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary, widely known as one of the most haunted places in the country. Opened in 1829, Eastern State was once home to thousands of the toughest criminals, including “Scarface” Al Capone. Stories of suicide and murder, amputations and other tortures, plus diseases have landed Eastern State on the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures to MTV’s Fear 

The dark history and sheer intensity of life inside these walls is enough to elicit fear any time of year, but the prison morphs into a shriek-inducing house of terror during its annual Halloween Nights festival. Every fall, Medusa, vampires, and dozens of other creepy characters emerge from five themed haunted houses. 

Book your stay at Independence Park Hotel, BW Premier Collection 

West Virginia Penitentiary 

Located in Moundsville, West Virginia, just south of Wheeling, the West Virginia Penitentiary is known for its historical and paranormal tours. The Gothic structure opened in 1866 and has been the home of fires, riots, and the hangings or electrocution of roughly 100 inmates.  

Private paranormal tours are offered at the correctional facility, and on Thursdays, the prison offers an after-dark, jump-inducing paranormal tour that ends with free time for you to roam the halls on your own—if you dare. 

During Halloween season, a haunted house called The Dungeon is packed with props and actors guaranteed to raise your blood pressure. Looking for less terror and more of a spooky throwback adventure? Opt for the North Walk—a guided tour that highlights historical and paranormal stories, minus the characters and decorations.  

Book your stay at Best Western St. Clairsville Inn & Suites. 

Old Idaho Penitentiary Site 

It’s not hard to imagine the life of confinement as the massive steel walls shut behind you at the Old Idaho Penitentiary Site in Boise, Idaho. In its 101-year-old operating history, the prison, which was home to infamous murderers and countless other crooks, recorded 129 deaths, including executions, suicides, and murder. 

Creeped-out visitors report seeing and hearing things they simply can’t explain inside the 153-year-old prison, and a paranormal group the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures conducted investigations here and came away with unexplainable photos. Still others claim to have sensed being physically touched, especially while in the solitary confinement cells, referred to as “Siberia,” and in the Gallows Room. Book a guided tour daily or simply explore on your own.  

Book your stay at The Riverside Hotel, BW Premier Collection.  

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial