I’ve been documenting abandoned structures all over the world for decades and I’ve come across all sorts of creepy places along my journey but nothing is truly more horrific than being inside an abandoned prison. Now I’m not talking about those abandoned prisons that are tourist attractions like Eastern State Penitentiary or Mansfield Ohio Reformatory that you pay an admission fee to walk in. I’m talking about real creepy abandoned prisons that if you were on the television show ‘The Walking Dead’ you would be hiding inside from the zombie apocalypse!
This abandoned Prison lies in rural Pennsylvania and buried deep within its peeling walls lies a haunted history. Once I peeled back some of the layers peeling paint I soon learned some horrific and chilling details that made my journey even more frightening than I had imagined. The prison opened in 1907 and closed in 1979 and today, the prison is a sobering reality of how America treated it’s prisoners over that time with some disturbing details.
In 1950s, there was reports of overcrowding and inhumane housing conditions that led many inmates to be squeezed into the tiny cell blocks. At first, I was completely shocked just how tiny each cell block was, roughly six feet by six feet, and with no outside access. This kind of treatment is almost unheard of nowadays with the exception of the Federal Supermax Prison in Indiana, which currently houses inmates in slightly larger sized cells for 23 hours out the day.
As I walked throughout the abandoned prison I noticed several eerie things about it, such as, the trapped doors in some of the floors that were used for hangings and came across several old ledgers and documents that litter the abandoned prison floor. One in particular I came across was a report memo dated 1956 that described the harsh financial condition of the prison, and it went on to describe during a two week period in July that the only meat able to be served that month was venison from roadkill that was brought to the prison by State police.
At one point I closed one of the rusted prison cell doors just to see and hear what it looked like and the door slammed shut and I was unable to open it, which truly frightened me because I almost did that with me inside the cell block.
One thing for certain is the fact that we have come along way on how we treat humanity in this country, and yes even prisoners. Most people are unaware of this haunting American history because the dark secrets remain locked away without a key.