doing my best to get caught up on it here in the next few weeks.
***CUE GHOST ADVENTURES OPENING MONTAGE SOUND EFFECTS***
Yeah, I know. But, still, I couldn't let the opportunity pass me by.
This is one place I've been wanting to visit for a long time, since first learning of it back in 2008. West Virginia State Penitentiary was closed in 1995 and, since then, has largely been a tourist attraction, with the occasional paranormal investigation thrown in for good measure. In its day, though, it was known as one of the toughest "you don't wanna' end up anywhere near this place when you get locked up" prisons in the entire country.
The building itself kind of sneaks up on you, which is surprising given its impressive demeanor. I crossed the bridge into West Virginia, and there was no sign that I was even anywhere near the prison.
|I was about a half a mile away...|
I never really expected it to be right across the street from neighborhood homes and picket fences and an ice cream store:
|Right across the street from one of the bad-assiest prisons in the country...|
Whether I expected it or not didn't really matter. There it was:
|West Virginia State Penitentiary in Moundsville, West Virginia...|
Almost immediately I had a sense of dread. I've never been to prison, nor do I ever expect that I'll end up in one. But, still, there was no escaping the odd feeling that I was about to walk into a place that many never walked out of.
The reception area contains a small gift shop, along with "Old Sparky", the actual electric chair which was used in the executions of nine condemned prisoners from 1951 until 1959:
The most effective way to convey the enormity, as well as the overall sense of dread, of the prison is to do it visually.
|Our tour guide...|
|This cell block was known as "The Alamo"...|
|The rear of the prison...|
|The North Wagon Gate, leading in from "the outside" into the rear yard of the prison. |
This was the first structure built at the site...
|At one time, this was the dining hall...|
|The ground floor of one of the cell blocks...|
|A guard tower...|
|An entrance into the rear of the prison...|
|The entrance into the cafeteria...|
|Graffiti adorns the walls of many 5'x7' cells here...|
|An entrance to one of the cell blocks...|
|Never a shortage of bars in a prison...|
|An exit to the rear yard...|
|This "revolving door" allowed access to prison offices and the Warden's residence...|
|I suppose it's because they got tired of the old one...|
|This visiting area was for "non-contact" visits...|
|Another cell block, another overwhelming, ominous feeling...|
|An exit to the rear yard...|
|Some inmates were permitted to paint their cells...|
|The prison kitchen...|
The prison had facilities which were designed to truly rehabilitate inmates, but conditions at the prison deteriorated greatly over the years. A total of 36 prisoners, including Danny Lehman, were murdered within these walls. Lehman served as a prisoner negotiator during the 1986 riot here.
So, I'm able to put another notch in my Ghost Adventures belt. I've visited several of the same sites as the GAC, but this is, I think, a highlight. If you happen to find yourself near Moundsville, West Virginia with a few hours to spare, I highly recommend taking the tour here.
It'll remind you why you're so happy you've never gone to prison...