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Take a walk through one of the eeriest places in the United States! Discover the real character and background of this unique building, and for the first time ever, experience an extended ghost hunt through all the major areas of the prison with Nancy E. Myer ("48 Hours", "Unsolved Mysteries", "Sightings"), one of the most highly respected psychics in the world.
The penitentiary opened in 1867 as a one-room jail in the heart of Moundsville, West Virginia, in the building now known as the "North Wagon Gate." Over the course of its 128 years in operation, the prison grew into a huge, sprawling complex covering nineteen acres (almost four city blocks).
The structure is essentially a half-size replica of the famous state penitentiary in Joliet, Illinois. A hulking and foreboding presence silhouetted against the nighttime sky of Moundsville, it resembles a turreted stone castle from another time and place. To complete the effect, visit at the right time of the night, and you might even meet some of the resident bats!
At one point in its history, the Moundsville penitentiary housed as many as 2,700 inmates. Though many of the inmates served out their time and were eventually released, there is a long, somber history of murder and suicide within the forbidding stone walls. Before the 1963 abolition of West Virginia's death penalty, the prison was the scene of 88 hangings and 11 electrocutions.
In short, it was regarded as one of the toughest places to do hard time.
By 1986, the general approach to corrections was changing, and the prison's 5 x 7 cells were declared to be cruel and unusual punishment. The facility was closed by order of law, and many of the inmates were transferred to a new maximum security prison farther south -- the Mt. Olive Correctional Facility in Fayette County, West Virginia.
Each year, the former prison is host to 20,000-30,000 tourists from around the world and across the United States.
Directly across the street from the prison sits one of the largest burial mounds in the United States, the Grave Creek Mound. It is believed that construction of the Grave Creek Mound began around 250 B.C. by the people known as the "Adena." Built in gradual stages, the Mound rises to a height of nearly 70 feet on a base almost 300 feet in diameter. Some burials of early Adena people were of the complete body, but other burial rituals included cremation. The ashes were then placed in small log tombs and covered with earth.
For more detailed information, visit the prison's tourist website at http://www.wvpentours.com