West Virginia State Penitentiary in Moundsville is a haunted prison that was built in 1876.
West Virginia State Penitentiary closed its doors to inmates in 1995, but has since become recognized as one of the most haunted places in the United States.
During its history as a state penitentiary, it gained a notorious reputation as one of the Department of Justice’s Top Ten Most Violent Correctional Facilities. It was said to house the worst inmates of all and was plagued by prison escapes, deplorable conditions, disease, riots, murders, suicides, and harsh punishments.
In 1986, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the prison’s cells were cruel and inhuman punishment, and it was closed down in 1995.
In total, 94 men were executed in West Virginia State Penitentiary. Executions were performed behind the walls of West Virginia Penitentiary, away from the prying eyes of the public. The first hangings took place at the first building constructed on the site, North Wagon Gate. In 1931 the execution of Frank Hyer went wrong. He was supposed to be hanged but the guards accidentally decapitated him.
Another botched hanging involved Orville Paul Adkins in 1938, when the trap door was sprung before the noose was around his neck. He crashed headfirst into the concrete below and was severely injured. But the guards just carried him back up the stairs on a stretcher, put the noose around his neck and hanged him properly. They say his ghost now haunts North Wagon Gate and visitors report feeling a sinister presence in the building or the feeling of being watched by some invisible force.
Long before it closed down in 1995, West Virginia State Penitentiary had a reputation for being haunted. Reports vary from residual hauntings, where something that happened in the past is replayed over and over again, to a “Shadow Man” that has been seen in the cafeteria, the psychiatric ward, and the basement. The sounds of phantom footsteps, voices, or screams and slamming doors when no one else is around is another common occurrence.
A prisoner named RD Wall was cornered by three other inmates in the basement of the building. They attacked him while he was sitting on the toilet and chopped off his head. Since then, many people have reported seeing a ghostly apparition of a man wandering around the basement, without a head.
One of the most haunted “hot spots” in the entire facility is a basement recreation room, nicknamed The Sugar Shack. Visitors have reported hearing ghostly footsteps, terrifying screams and cries of pain coming from the room. Some people have even physically attacked by an invisible entity when they entered the room.
There is also a room known as “The Wheel House,” which consists of a revolving door made out of iron bars. This is how prisoners entered the prison. It has been seen rotating even though nobody is nearby. The North Hall used to house the most dangerous inmates and was called “The Alamo.” Visitors report feeling overwhelmed by anxiety and fear when they enter it.
Tales of supernatural encounters and mysterious sounds seem to come from all areas of West Virginia State Penitentiary, earning its reputation as one of the most haunted places in the United States.
West Virginia Penitentiary has been featured on MTV’s Fear, Scariest Places on Earth, Ghost Hunters, and Proof Positive. Every Halloween, the prison is transformed into a Halloween attraction called The Dungeon of Horrors. Guests pay for the priviledge of being treated like actual convicts and locked into prison cells.