Eastern State Penitentiary

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The History of the Haunting

When compiling a list of America's most haunted places, prisons and jails are usually high on the list. The amount of trauma, pain and terror experienced by the men who are incarcerated often leaves a lasting impression behind and horrible events that occur behind the prison's high walls tend to cause the spirits of the men imprisoned to remain in death, just as they were in life. There is no escape - even after death.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Founded by the Quakers in 1829, who envisioned the stone castle as a place where criminals could become penitent for their crimes (hence the name, "penitentiary"), the prison was a place of total isolation. Inmates were confined in windowless rooms and allowed no contact with any living person. Many of them were driven insane by the solitude. Punishments for breaking the rules were extreme and suicides became common. Solitary confinement was ended in the 1870's and a century later, the prison was closed down. Since that time, ghost stories and paranormal encounters have become commonplace. Apparitions have been seen, mysterious footsteps heard and strange sounds reported.

Ghost Stories of Eastern State Penitentiary

Since its closure visitors, employees and those researching paranormal activity have reportedly heard unexplained eerie sounds throughout the prison.

The Locksmith

One major paranormal episode reported occurred to a locksmith doing restoration work in Cell Block #4. According to the tale, he was working to remove a 140-year-old lock from the cell door when a massive force overcame him so powerfully he was unable to move. Some believe when he removed the key it opened a gateway to the horrific past and offered the spirits caught behind its bars a pathway out. The man spoke of experiencing an out-of-body state as he was drawn toward the negative energy which burst through the cell.

Anguished faces appeared on the cell wall, hundreds of distorted forms swirled around the cellblock and one dominating form seemed to beckon the locksmith to him. The man's experience was so vivid, years after he would shudder in fear when he talked about it.