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Twilight ghost tours added to Missouri State Penitentiary

Courtesy Missiouri State Penitentiary

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A nighttime ghost tour has been added to the tour options at the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City.

“The public was definitely demanding a ghost tour of some sort,” said Sarah Stroesser Alsager, communications manager for the Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Very rarely has a history tour gone by without someone from the group asking about unusual occurrences that have happened at the penitentiary.”

So this year, in addition to the popular history tours, which saw a 275 percent increase in attendance in 2010, the prison began offering a new lineup of twilight ghost tours and overnight paranormal investigations. Lanterns are provided. 

“The first few tours have sold out very quickly,” Alsager said.

First opened in 1836, the prison was used until 2004. 

“When the first inmate came here, Davy Crockett was pulling a trigger at the Alamo. That’s 100 years before Alcatraz was built,” said Bill Green, a prison guard for 30 years and now one of the tour guides. “This place has a tremendous history, a mixture of horror and humor, gut-busting funny things and some horrible medieval things.” 

Among the prison’s famous inmates over the years were James Earl Ray,  heavyweight boxing champion Sonny Liston, the Young Brothers Gang and Pretty Boy Floyd.

“In 1932, this was the largest prison in the world,” said Green, “with 5,200 convicts.”