St. Louis September 05, 2017
A Terrifying Tour Of This Haunted Prison Near St. Louis Is Not For The Faint Of Heart
The Missouri State Penitentiary opened in 1836 just as our state was establishing government services. It operated as a maximum security prison for 168 years. After closing in 2004, the ominous castle-like brick fortress is now open for tours.
They say the prison is haunted, with many reports of strange activity. It may be haunted, as it was a place of great sorrow for both the inmates and the guards who worked there. But for sure, a tour here is harrowing. Read below to prepare yourself for a walk through this dungeon-like prison.
The main building looks like it could be an old European castle.
There is nothing magical about this place. You can feel the sadness and gloom permeating from the buildings as you arrive.
The cell blocks here go up for many stories, once creating a dangerous environment for both prisoners and guards.
The prison has no heat or air conditioning, so proper attire for the weather conditions is recommended.
Your tour will take you down many ominous hallways.
This 181 year old building is not ADA compliant, and is not a tour you can take if using a wheelchair, crutches, or a walker. Tennis shoes or other solid footwear are recommended for the tour; sandals and flip flops are strongly discouraged during your tour.
One window provides much needed light on the prison cell block.
Tours taken on overcast or rainy days will have a much darker feel than those taken when sunlight can break through the sparse windows.
This was the view prisoners had looking out of their cell.
On your tour, go into a cell and look out across the cell block to get an idea of the endlessness of these prison cells. Some prisoners spent a lifetime with this view.
This is an average cell at the Missouri State Prison.
Upgrades and repairs were not really an option for the prison, as building new facilities to house more inmates always came first. Inmates in cells of this nature were the fortunate ones.
This cell could be considered top of the line, with a window and at least enough room to stand up.
Cell rooms were very close quarters at the Missouri State Prison.
The Missouri State Penitentiary at one point housed both male and female inmates as the state scrambled to create a prison just for women.
While many notorious criminals were housed here, perhaps the most famous is James Earl Ray.
Ray was sentenced to 20 years for a robbery in St. Louis, Missouri. He escaped the Missouri State Penitentiary and changed the history of our nation almost one year later, when he murdered Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee.
Death row inmates were kept in cells under the prison.
The prison cells and tunnel-like hallways of death row were not a good situation for the inmates or guards who had to work under the prison. For a long time, death row inmates never left this part of the prison, ever. An inmate named John B. "Firebug" Johnson wrote a book called "Buried Alive for 18 Years In the Missouri State Penitentiary," after he was convicted and sentenced for crimes committed while in prison.
The exercise yard, where inmates could spend an hour outside in the fresh air.
This cell has a window giving a view outside, although of just the other building. Some cells had no windows.
The gas chamber, where 40 inmate's ultimate sentences were carried out.
The tours do include all parts of death row, including this building. This portion of the tour is creepy and unsettling at best. But you don't have to tour any places you aren't comfortable with on the tour.
Looking much like the opening shot of a horror movie, this is the view visitors saw as they entered the prison.
The prison was built mostly by the inmates incarcerated there.
The inmates made bricks on site for these buildings and others around Jefferson City as a part of their work detail each day. The work was hard, the shifts were long, and medical care was in short supply.
A tour of this prison will haunt you, and you might come across the lingering spirits of those who never left these walls. Have you taken this prison tour? Share your experience with us in the comments below.
For more information, check out the
official website for Missouri State Penitentiary Tours.
Looking for more haunted places to visit? Check out
this haunted winery in Missouri.