West Virginia State Penitentiary
Moundsville Penitentiary (Ghost Adventures)
|Zak, Nick and Aaron go to Moundsville, WV, to investigate
and confront the tortured souls that remain inside the abandoned
Moundsville State Penitentiary. The prison was mired by evil, torture
and death for over a century.
The West Virginia State
Penitentiary is a retired, Gothic style prison located in Moundsville,
West Virginia. It operated from 1876 to 1995. Currently, the site is
maintained as a tourist attraction and training facility.
1899 to 1959, ninety-four men were executed. Hanging was the method of
execution until 1949 with eighty-five men meeting that fate. The public
could attend hangings until June 19th, 1931.
On that date, Frank Hyer
was executed for murdering his wife. However, when the trap door beneath
him was opened and his full weight was put onto the noose, he was
instantly decapitated. Following this event, attendance at hangings was
by invitation only.
The last man to face execution by hanging,
Bud Peterson from Logan County, lies in the prison's cemetery, as his
family refused to claim his body. Beginning in 1951, electrocution
became the means of execution.
Ironically, the electric chair, nicknamed "Old Sparky", used by the prison was originally built by an inmate
there, Paul Glenn. Nine men died in the chair until the state outlawed
execution entirely in 1965. The original chair is on display in the
facility and is a part of the official tour.
Tours are available
for tourists wishing to see the prison. The Elizabethtown Festival is
held every May to celebrate and remember historic Moundsville. A haunted
attraction called the "Dungeon of Horrors" is also set up for the
Paranormal groups and enthusiast travel guides
consider Moundsville Prison to be one of the most haunted prisons in the
United States, with ghost stories originating as early as the 1930s.
Legends include the prison occupying the site of a Native American
burial ground. Reports include former guards seeing phantom inmates and a
"shadow man" wandering the premises, as well as unexplained noises,
voices, and cold spots.
During the history of the prison, a total of 94 men were executed.
From 1899-1949, eighty-five men were hung. In 1951 the State began using an electric chair. Nine men had been electrocuted until the state abolished the death penalty in 1959.
In 1986, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the Penitentiary's
tiny cells were cruel and unusual punishment. The Moundsville
Penitentiary closed its doors in 1995.