Saturday, August 9, 2008

Carbon County Jail Lifers

Carbon County Jail from Delaware and Lehigh Organization

Formerly the lock-up of Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe) in Carbon County, the foreboding 1871 cold stone building reopened in 1995 as the Old Jail Museum. It still contains 72 rooms, including 28 cells, eerie dungeons and the warden’s apartment.

Seven men where hanged inside the jail, accused of being Molly Maguires. And there are more spooky things inside than Alexander Campbell's eternal handprint.

A man was accused of murdering his brother, and despite his claims of innocence, he was subsequently convicted and sentenced to life in prison. The man swore revenge. He was sent to state prison, and no one thought much of his threat until one night when the man hung himself in his cell.

His suicide note said that he was going to haunt the Carbon County jail, where he was held during his trial, forever to protest his unjust verdict. He would scratch his name "Niehoff" on the floor outside of Cell 2 to remind everyone of the injustice.

According to local lore, the name appeared and is still there. Inmates and guards claimed that every year, on the anniversary of his suicide, his spirit could be heard scratching on the floor of the jail, in front of Cell 2.

There are some other strange reports, like from the Jail library. It's said that visitors feel like they're walking uphill in this small room.

The dungeon in the jail basement is generally off limits to tour groups, but it's said that if you try to enter, you'll experience a feeling of dread so powerful that it stops many people dead in their tracks. That's where the prisoners were kept in isolation. Apparently, they still don't want bothered.

A few tourists have even reported seeing four bodies still swing from the gallows inside the prison, spirit reenactments of the restless Molly Maguires unable to find peace after all these years.

Finally, there's the upper cell block, which has a circular balcony that looks down onto the lower floor. The museum owner claims that many folk feel something "strange" in front of a cell in the left corner, similar to the sense of anxiety experienced in the dungeon.

Some visitors reported hearing voices, and others reported being pushed or touched. Others swear they've spotted a couple of orbs floating around the hoosegow.

You just can't parole some jailbirds. They stay in stir forever.

Betty Lou McBride wrote a book detailing the visitors' strange experiences at the jail she and her husband Tom own, called Ghosts of the Molly Maguires?

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