A paranormal investigation conducted at a spirit ridden hot spot is a ghost hunters dream, and the Ohio State Reformatory located in Mansfield, Ohio is well-known for apparitions, dark shadows, strange events, paranormal activity, investigations and ghost tours. In fact past visits from various sources have resulted in reports documenting many different deceased characters encompassing the prison. Remnants of the past are no stranger to the present day events that take place at one of the most haunted destinations in America. The prison has housed over 154,000 inmates in its lifetime up until it officially closed it doors to prisoners in December of 1990. Today the historical building receives visitors from all over the world who are hungry for history, beautiful Victorian Gothic, Romanesque Revival and Queen Anne architecture and the possibility of communicating with the ghosts that were once a living part of the penitentiary.
Built in 1834, the prison was designed with the idea that inmates would eventually repent after deciding to leave a life of sin far behind them. Today the building is owned by The Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society who preserves the historical site through ghost tours that promise to deliver some of the most bone chilling and hair raising paranormal activity that your mind can handle. Each tour offers some type of questionable phenomena that leaves most visitors with a firm conviction that ghosts really do exist, especially since the majority of these people claim that they experienced the sensation of being touched by invisible hands.
The prison’s massive size is hard to fathom when you take into consideration that the men were stacked in cells six tiers high that quite literally appear as towering gates of hell. Fights were an everyday way of life and wounded or critically ill patients were shuttled off to the infirmary, often never to be seen or heard from again. This is perhaps why today you can hear what sounds like anguished crying and whining coming from the likes of grown ghost men attempting to be freed from their sentence of impending harm most likely leading to an unexplained punishment or death.
It comes as no surprise that so many ghosts walk the halls of the prison when you consider that death is no stranger to the reformatory, including the loss of life from innocent victims. In 1950 the warden’s wife was accidentally killed when she removed a jewelry box from a closet shelf and unknowingly dislodged a revolver from its hiding place. When the gun hit the floor, it fired straight into her body, killing her instantly. Just a decade later the warden also perished in his office quarters from a heart attack. To this day witnesses swear that they can hear the couple conversing with each other in hushed tones that are inaudible to the human ear, but easily detected on an EVP recorder.
The Chapel is also known for the questionable activity that carries on at what appears to be at free will. A strange mist comes out of nowhere as does a flurry of orbs. Mysterious shadows darken the walls and unexplained paranormal activity that includes smells, whispering, equipment failure, the feeling of being watched, the sensation of not being able to breathe and the over powering feeling of instant nausea are just a few of the events that have occurred in the past during visits to the Chapel.
Solitary confinement was believed to be a way of settling down unruly inmates and at the reformatory it was known as “the hole”. It was not uncommon for up to 120 prisoners to be confined for up to a month in this small space made up of 20 cells with little more then a toilet, bunk and concrete floor offered as creature comforts to those who were considered less then human. The isolation, lack of fresh air, good food, clean water and tempers flaring often led to fights, and during this time of uncivilized treatment it is alleged that at least one inmate was murdered in the hole and hidden from sight in the bedding for days. The foul odor became impossible to live with and the death was finally reported to the guards. The hole is now a popular location to catch a glimpse of a male ghost.
Cemeteries are typically the most obvious place to locate ghosts, and the graveyard at the Ohio State Reformatory is no exception to this rule. The inmates have been left to a permanent source of unrest deep below the prison grounds in a grim setting located just outside the gate. All are buried in wooden boxes constructed at the prison’s carpentry shop by fellow inmates who knew that one day it could be them laid at rest in such a careless and inhumane way. Two hundred and fifteen unnamed souls are remembered only by their numbered markers. These individual plots sadly represent the souls that once flourished below in a layout that has been placed row upon row making a disastrous recipe for trapped spirits to forever remain in hell. The majority of these men were victims of violence, insanity, influenza and incurable diseases. The cemetery can be viewed from the guard tower that is offered on the West Tower tour. The very essence of the reformatory has not gone unnoticed, especially from film producers and history makers which include the unique east cell block which has made its way into The Guinness Book of World Records for featuring the world’s largest free-standing six tier steel cell block.
More hair raising paranormal activity can be detected in the cold and creepy prison basement. The dark series of hallways might as well be the entrance to the pits of hell, because this is where you will find the ghost of a young man that appears to be running for his life in the opposite direction of any visitors who dare to tread in this area. Sadness, gloom and doom are the only way to express the direct feelings that ooze from the atmosphere linked to any and all parts of the rooms located below the main part of the reformatory. It is also hard to ignore the feelings of being watched or the bone chilling feeling that someone is about to touch you with icy cold fingers, but past reports from visitors claim that this is exactly what will happen if you stay down in the basement longer then need be.
The Ghost Hunters visited the reformatory in an adventure that locked the team down from dusk to dawn with spine tingling results that only gave more proof that what used to be one of the grizzliest prisons on earth is in fact one of the most haunted today. They discovered that the entire prison is breeding grounds for aggressive souls that are perhaps trapped forever inside of stone walls that once house some of the nation’s most hardened criminals. The team concluded that many of the inmates are still serving time and may never find the peace that every human desires in life and in death. Remnants of thoughts and past lives are so ever present still today by the hauntingly ghostly voices that echo through the steel bars and cast off of the cement walls gripping those that dare to walk past with a permeating fear to run for their lives and out the heavily locked doors to freedom. To watch the results of their paranormal investigation go to: http://www.extremeghosthunters.com/ghostadventures/2-12.html
Friday & Saturday Night Ghost Hunts for 2012: Admission Price: $65.00 and is all inclusive of access to the building from 8:00 p.m. until 5:00.a.m. Check- in begins at 7:00 p.m. A late dinner of pizza and soda are included. For more information go to: http://www.mrps.org/ghost-hunts
Sunday Tours: Starting May 1, 2012 you can choose from three different tours that include the West Tower, East Cell Block or the Hollywood Tour. Tours begin at 1:00 p.m. with the last tour at 3:45 p.m. Admission Price: $9.00 for adults $7.00 for seniors, military and kids aged 7 through 17.
Historic Tours: Monday through Saturday self-guided tours are offered from 11:00 a.m. to 4: 00 p.m. Price: $9.00 for Adults and $7.00 for seniors, military and ages 7 -17.
Educational Visits for Students and Teachers: All of the activities are geared for grades 5 through 12 and meet the standards for math, social studies and language arts. The activities hit on prison life, racial relations, timeline, guard and reformatory activity. E-mail [email protected] for more information.
Halloween Prison Experience: Price: $17.00 per person. Thursday night through Sunday night. This is not an overnight tour and it never sells out. This deranged tour is a one of a kind haunted experience through the spookiest prison on the planet and it is intentionally set up to scare the hell out of you and comes complete with sounds, sights, actors, props and state of the art animatronics. For more information go to: http://www.hauntedx.com/
Location: Ohio State Reformatory, 100 Reformatory Road, Mansfield, Ohio 44905 Call: 419-522-2644 for information on events and scheduling.