Looking for Ghosts at the Missouri State Penitentiary? Jefferson City is Ready to Believe You.
For Immediate Release: June 30, 2011
JEFFERSON CITY, MO. -- The heart-stopping thrill of creeping through an old abandoned prison after dark with the chance of encountering ghosts face-to-face is luring paranormal researchers and enthusiasts from around the country to the Missouri State Penitentiary (MSP) Ghost Tours in Jefferson City.
Pictures of the 40 men and women executed in the gas chamber hang on the wall in the building.
The Penitentiary, built in 1836 and decommissioned in 2004, was the oldest continuously operating prison west of the Mississippi and was at one time one of the largest prisons in the world with approximately 5,200 inmates. Forty inmates have been executed in the gas chamber at MSP and Time Magazine once called the detention center the "Bloodiest 47 acres in America" for the frequent violence inside its walls. With all of its history, there's no doubt that the probability for paranormal energy on-site is considered to be high.
Talk of the prison's supernatural qualities even captured the attention of the most famous paranormal investigators this side of the Ghostbusters.
Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson of the Syfy Channel's reality series "Ghost Hunters" made the trip to Jefferson City on June 6 to spend several nights in "jail." Their mission: to film an episode inside the prison walls and get to the bottom of all the spine-chilling chatter. The episode airs later this fall, but the visit has already spiked interest from fans of the show and other paranormal groups wanting to stay at the prison and see for themselves. In the realm of ghost hunters, both amateur and pro, the Missouri State Penitentiary is quickly becoming the cool place to be.
The Missouri State Penitentiary is quickly becoming a must-see for ghost hunters and thrill seekers alike.
"We've had a ton of interest from fans and investigators wanting to book a tour at the prison since we were able to announce that 'Ghost Hunters' had been here," said Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau Communications Manager Sarah Alsager.
According to Alsager, the rise of the prison tour's popularity has been meteoric. The MSP Tour started with 3,400 visitors in 2009 when the city had only a regular two-hour history tour. In 2010, the CVB added a four-hour, in-depth history tour and the numbers jumped to 11,700, a 275-percent increase. This year, with the expansion of the tours to include ghost tours and paranormal investigations, over 7,200 people have gone through the gates in a little under four months.
"We're hoping to attract 15,000 visitors to the prison this year," said Alsager. "You'd be surprised how the talk of the paranormal grabs the interest of people. The tour is a fantastic historic tour, but it doesn't solely consist of a bunch of old ghost stories. In fact, there have been some paranormal occurrences and sightings that have taken place as recently as two months ago."
Inmates standing near a site of a murder in A Hall in the 1960's.
Missouri State Penitentiary ghost tour guide Marie Lacey can vouch for the prison's tales of bumps in the night and shared one account of a guest's sighting of a head and shoulders apparition that vanished into thin air.
"A young gal came over to me and took me aside," said Lacey. "Then she said, 'you're never going to believe me, but ...' Then I smiled and said, this is a ghost tour in a haunted prison. I'll believe just about anything."
Lacey, also a member of Jefferson City Paranormal Investigators (a local paranormal investigation group), encourages anyone to come out and experience the adventure.
"Tour guides and people on the tour are just having a blast together," she said. "When a tour is over, I literally cannot wait to lead another tour to see what someone will see or hear next."
The prison's paranormal tour options include Twilight Ghost Tours, Ghost Hunt Tours, Open Paranormal Investigations and Private Paranormal Investigations.
Visitors to the MSP have the choice of four different Paranormal Tours ranging in price from $25 - $100, and the option to be locked up for the night.
Twilight Ghost Tours cost $25 per person for a two-hour tour, and feature exploration of Housing Unit 1, A-Hall, Dungeon Cells and the Gas Chamber. Flashlights are provided to light the way for those who are courageous enough to walk the hallways and explore the dingy, aged cells after dark. Two-hour Ghost Hunt Tours are also $25 per person and provide both history and interactive exploration of the prison.
Open Paranormal Investigations include a history tour, a supervised investigation and an overnight stay from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. at a cost of $100 per person. Private Paranormal Investigations for organized groups are also available for a $1600 group fee (up to 16 people).
For more information about prison tours, to book a tour or a tour-and-lodging package, please visit MissouriPenTours.com or contact the Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau at 866-998-6998.
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For more information about these and other attractions in and around Jefferson City, please contact the Convention and Visitors Bureau at 800-769-4183, at
VisitJeffersonCity.com or at the city's Facebook or Twitter pages.
Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau
Sarah Alsager, Communications Manager
(573) 632-2820 ext. 305