Scares in Jeff City That Aren't About Politics

Something ghostly may be happening in our state capital...and it has nothing to do with the budget.

The decommissioned Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City is offering tours of its gruesome cells and and execution chamber. Those seem scary enough, but if that doesn't shiver your timbers, you can also join the dozens of paranormal investigation groups hunting ghosts in the prison.

The prison first opened in 1836, and was housing inmates until 2004. That's a lot of history, and much of it is pretty gnarly. In 1967, Time Magazine called it "the bloodiest 47 acres in America" because of all the murders that happened inside.

Check out a dungeon with no windows and an iron door.

"There's no other way to put it. They brought you down here to hurt you," Bill Green says in a press release. Green, a tour guide, was a guard at the prison for 30 years.

In 1893, prisoner John B. "Firebug" Johnson spent time in the dungeon after setting his third prison fire. He later wrote about his experiences in the book Buried Alive or Eighteen Years in the Missouri Penitentiary.

Forty men and women were gassed to death in the execution chair here, and their pictures line the walls of the chamber. (Yes, you can sit in the chairs. And yes, it would totally make a cool Facebook profile photo.)

But what about the less concrete horrors?

In response to demand from folks taking the tours, the pen now offers a ghost-hunting tour. Bring your sensitive detecting equipment and stay all night...who knows what'll go bump in the night?

Reserve a spot on a tour online, (prices range from $12 to $100 for a spooky sleepover) but make sure you leave at the end. It's scary in there.

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Hey, nice tips. This idea is great specially to those who have slots of cellphones to replace but do not know what to do with the old ones. iron doors


The old prison is amazing and a wonderful piece of Missouri history.  I've taken a regular tour and a ghost tour (not the overnight...yet!).  They are GREAT tours.  And yes, the ghost tours are a little spooky, not really a good idea for young kids.  We had a female tour guide and as she was telling a story about some of the female prisoners from the 1800's some of us in the group heard a males voice coming from a cell on the third story.  They give you time to explore on your own and I immediatly booked it to the third floor and ran into another couple up there.  It was dark up there, so I was surprised anyone else went up and the girl said that they thought they heard something up there, and I asked her if she had heard a guys voice and she said "Yes!"  That's probably the spookiest thing that happend on our tour, but it was still fun.  I would really reccomend taking the historical tour during the day before a ghost tour because you will not get much of the historical facts on the ghost hunt.  They are both well worth it and what you pay for your tickets goes to preserve the prison, so it's a win-win!!   

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