Haunted Journeys

Missouri State Penitentiary

Missouri State Penitentiary

115 Lafayette Street
Jefferson City, Missouri
65101 United States

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Jefferson City, MO is home to one of the most haunted places in the state, Missouri State Penitentiary. Come Explore its mystery with Haunted Journeys.

The History

As one of the longest-running maximum-security prisons in the U.S., it began housing inmates in 1836. It was once referred to as the "Bloodiest 47 acres in America", it started using prisoners to provide the labor for building several mansions near the prison. This included the warden’s mansion and the quarry stone wall that still surrounds the prison today. Yes, these inmates were essentially treated like slaves and the conditions were extremely brutal.

Within this building is a basement of dungeons, referred to as the “Hole.” This was used to house post Civil War criminals. In addition, this was where they kept death row inmates, violent and disruptive prisoners, and those suffering from mental problems. The only light in these cells came from a small slit in the door. The doors of the cells are less than five feet high, which forced prisoners to stoop down and take a subordinate posture when leaving their cells. Early on, inmates were not allowed to look guards in the eye, an infraction that could result in punishment at the whipping post or solitary confinement.

Many riots, murders, and escape attempts occurred here over the years. One of the massive occurrences in the prison’s history took place when a violent riot broke out in September 1954. In the previous two years, several other prison riots had occurred across the country and when gossip in the prison turned to talk of riots, authorities took it seriously, drafting a plan should such an event occur and training officers.

After the prison closed, it fell into disrepair before it reopened as a tourist attraction, offering history and paranormal tours. Sometimes these tours are led by former inmates and guards. One of the most popular is their ghost tours.

The Hauntings

With its chilling and gruesome history and spiritual remnants left behind, it should come as no surprise that this property is one of the most haunted in the nation. What multiples the intensity of the haunts is the building itself, for it is built of limestone. This element is known to be a conductor for ghostly activity.

Tales of ghostly visitors began long before the prison closed with both prisoners and guards reporting having seen apparitions. Here is one example of its unforgiving haunts... One inmate, John B. “Firebug” Johnson, was housed in the dungeon for 17 years between February 26, 1883, to July 1, 1900. Prior to his placement in the dungeon, he had attempted to escape several times and had started several fires. He was moved to the basement after setting a fire that destroyed more than $500,000 worth of property and the deaths of several inmates. Amazingly, he didn’t go mad and upon his release, wrote a book called Buried Alive for 18 Years in the Missouri Penitentiary (see below). Here in these pages, he described the manifestations that would terrorize their minds while attempting to live within this physical nightmare.

A-Hall, the prison’s oldest building is said to be the most intensified hotspot of unearthly activity. Inside the massive stone building are four tiers of cells with catwalks that criss-cross its width. In this building, paranormal reports have included the feeling of having been touched by ghostly hands, an overwhelming smell of body odor. Many have seen an apparition of a man spied on the catwalk, and movements in the darkness and shadows of the building. Equipment often malfunctions here, chilling disembodied voices have been captured on recorders, and some have felt an invisible force breathing down their necks.

This property was featured on Ghost Adventures.


More chilling reads about haunted Missouri


Buried Alive: Eighteen Years in the Missouri Penitentiary Kindle Edition by James B. Johnson (Author),           Missouri Hauntings Paperback – December 28, 2008 by Lee Prosser  (Author)



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Understand This:

This property, as part of our network, has been added for they may have history, validation, or folk tales of having spirited activities. Please take caution in approaching and visiting these locations, since courtesy, respect, and caution should be a top priority in every Haunted Investigator's style. Also do realize, some of these places may have permanently closed, changed ownership and/or names, or just are not available for your visits. Please respect this.

We are not responsible for the accuracy of the information provided on this listing, but offer it as a first step in finding your next haunted travel destination. Please do confirm with the property before making any plans to visit.

If you visit, tour, or investigate this property (or any of our properties), we are not responsible or held liable for any outcomes, lack of evidence, or injuries associated with your travels. This is only for entertainment purposes, and information provided is only as found in public domains (or as offered by the associated contributor (as a claimed property).

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Date added: Dec/08/2019 | Last time updated: Jun/14/2021

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