Miracle of miracles, I got a solid 8 hours sleep last night. Either it’s all the driving or stress of finding gas yesterday, but I slept hard and it was AMAZING. You truly know you’re an adult when the best thing about your day is sleep. This week is a bonus week for me because I only had a couple things planned, so everything else I find is extra! It is supposed to be in the 100’s several days this week, so I am going to have to be careful with my car that has no a/c right now. Sometimes it just FEELS better to stay in my nice, ice cold hotel room and watch tv.
On my Paranormal wish list of things to do across the Nation, many a Prison can be found. I have always been fascinated by them, and then you add history with the ghosts inside every cell, they’re pretty cool to tour. My first Prison tour was Joliet in Illinois, and you really didn’t get to go in the cell areas, because the main building was literally falling apart and they are trying to save it. Waverly Hills was all about a guided ghost tour, so again, you weren’t on your own to really explore (that costs extra and boy will it cost you there to do an overnight alone!). I LOVED that ghost tour, but it would have been cool and terrifying to do alone.
So today I wasn’t sure what to expect, just what I had seen on an episode of “Ghost Adventures.” I knew the place was haunted, so I came prepared to talk to whoever wanted to talk back. They have sort of a compound going on there, the Penitentiary, the Warden’s home, the Women’s Prison Block, the trail to Table Rock, and the Botanical Gardens next door. They have you park in this huge, gravel parking lot behind the homes and the Table Rock trail, but there was ZERO signage on where to walk to the Prison. I wound up asking a local who was going to his car how the heck to get to the entrance, which he kindly showed me the way.
$6 entrance fee, masks required in the Main building, and the tour is self-guided. I LOVE those words, that means “Amy can take her sweet ass time” – which I certainly did. They opened at 10 a.m. and I didn’t walk out until 12:30 p.m. They have SO many buildings to tour, including Maximum Security, the Cooler, 3 Cell Houses, a Rose Garden, Shirt Factory, and Barber Shop.
Let’s start with the Rose Garden. This is where the gallows started on the property, where the men were put to death by hanging. The Rose Garden was beautiful, I kept thinking what beauty was covering stories of horrible deaths. It felt peaceful, but I couldn’t shake the feeling I was being watched. There weren’t many touring today, so 90% of the time I was all alone. Even with the big, bright, ball in the sky shining down on me, the place couldn’t feel darker.
The Dining Hall from 1898 burned down, and all that is left is the shell of what was. They designed it to have lots of light, and they entered across this huge ravine dug around it. The pic will show the men were not allowed to talk, and they all had to face one way while eating.
I couldn’t get over the “dungeons” they had placed in several spots. When the men were unruly, one point of punishment would be to put them in the ground where they would feed them and that’s it. They looked like storm cellars that people used when they didn’t have basements, but it must have been so hot with the sun baking those metal doors. Maybe cooler underground? I don’t know, every time I saw one it creeped me out.
Speaking of cooler, they have a building called “The Cooler” or “Siberia” where you were put when you REALLY screwed up while in Prison. These cells had nothing to them, and walking into the tiny building felt so heavy on my chest, I didn’t stay in here long. It’s located in a corner, far away from everything else, including it’s own shower area for only these confined prisoners. There cells had NOTHING to them, I pictured a man just sitting in a corner and scraping his fingers on the wall from boredom. Creepy area.
Next I toured the Barber Shop and Dorm, right next to each other. These were Museums, meaning they had walls of information on inmates, and it was fascinating to read. I probably spent a good 30 minutes alone here, all very interesting.
3 House, built in 1928, was the first one I toured of the cells. Because I wasn’t able to have such freedom at Joilet like this, I was shocked I could walk in and out of cells, up and down floors, it was so cool!! Every building I left my Ghost app play out, and I will post some of the words I got with this. Basically I took pics, video, then let my app run while I walked around and explored.
2 House was the oldest house, built in 1911. These were incredibly old, smaller cells. A scary vibe in this one, wasn’t a fan of being alone in here.
4 House, built in 1952, was the largest one. Lots of floors, housed the most, and this is where they had kidnapped several of the guards and the prisoners held them hostage.
5 House, built in 1954, was Maximum Security and Death Row. THIS ONE was crazy to be in! Exploring while thinking about the most dangerous who inhabited here, but then to go to the second floor and see the 4 cells that held the Death Row inmates was surreal. Right off their cells, a single, ominous door. They all had to stare at it from their cells, knowing the journey though door was the last walk in their lives. And not death by injection, oh no, nothing humane like that. They walked through that door to a hanging noose. They would be executed by hanging, with a trap door underneath. They would stand on the doors, the noose around their neck, the trap door would open, and they would be hung. Then dropped to the room below, and taken out the doors down the stairs, to the outside to a hearse and then the Cemetery. A window in the viewing room would allow the “watchers” to view this gruesome hanging…and I couldn’t stop staring through it. I couldn’t get over that 10 people were hung in that room, and that someone watched it. I was in this area awhile, I just couldn’t get over it. I took video in this area, will post it on Facebook- make sure to follow my page.
The last building I toured was the Shirt Factory, basically the laundry area. They really didn’t like them “loafing” – this term is found all over the grounds. Apparently with their schedule, they worked most of the time to help the State’s budget. They even built the Warden’s home, a STONE home. Cheap labor I guess. I hit the gift shop, because EVERYONE has a gift shop, and grabbed my sticker and a bottle of water. On the way out, they have the Women’s Ward on the outside of the Main Prison, which I thought was odd. Apparently they HAD to keep them separated this much because of the harassment they would endure. They were so worried about the women that there house is actually surrounded by it’s own separate wall, with the Warden’s home between the two areas. Because it’s outside the Main prison, you can tour the Women’s area without paying.
I headed out to find lunch, loving that Wendy’s Strawberry Summer Chicken salad so I picked one up and a cold soda and I headed back to the Hotel for some sweet, sweet air conditioning. I am parked for the rest of the day, the heat really does wipe me out. Hoping to get my car fixed soon, see you all tomorrow!
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