Old prisons look creepy in the day. In the dark, they can really spook you. Perhaps it’s those rusted locks, the way cell doors sound when they clank shut, the stairs where people don’t tread anymore. Add a hangman’s noose or an electric chair, and you have a real chills up your back shudder.
Pair a trip to a prison on Halloween and you’re in for some screaming good times.
Or, if you can’t swing by one of these prisons before Halloween, take in a night tour when you get the chance. Each of the these three prisons featured offers night tours year round. And each have tales of being haunted.
Haunted or not, I can vouch for their chill factor. I’ve visited each of them.
(photo of stairway at Mansfield Reformatory taken by thadman.)
My most recent visit was to the Mansfield Reformatory. In its heyday, the prison was a reformatory for boys but was closed in the 1980s.
This goreous gothic building that looks both elegant and forbodding even in daylight acquired its most recent fame as the setting for the movie The Shawshank Redemption. Through Halloween weekend there is a haunted house here that is a guareenteed screamfest. People under 13-years of age are not allowed.
The reformatory’s Night of the Evil Dead haunted house experience takes in most of the prison that is now a museum. I met some folks who had been on the tour the night before I visited here during the day. They loved it and mentioned several times how they felt hoarse from screaming.
I’ve been to Alcatraz Island in San Franciso twice. Although haven’t been on the night tour here either, in the daylight wandering through the rooms where the likes of Al Capone hung out creates a chill factor straight off.
Add in the tales of the guys who tried to escape by swimming for the distant shore but never made it, and you have another creepy detail. There’s also the soliary confinement cell where you can experience the dark in a way that is different than perhaps you are used to.
The night tours at Alcatraz are Thursday through Monday and include special talks around certain themes. How about the Shadow of Death? There are others from which to choose. A bonus of Alcatraz’s night tours is the view of San Francisco.
The view was terrific by day. If you do go on this tour any time of the year, whether during the day or night, make sure you bring warm clothes. Even in the summer it gets chilly.
I did take the night torchlight tour of the Fremantle Prison in Perth, Australia. Very cool. I was hanging out with a group of adolescent boys as a field trip chaparone. This age is a hard crowd to please, but I promise, they were pleased big time.
The Fremantle Prison, built in 1850 by convicts, was a place where British citizens who committed crimes were sent along with people who already lived in Australia and were naughty. Later the prison was used as a military prison.
The night view of this prison is quite imposing. Of all the places we visited in Western Australia, this was one of the highlights.