Haunted Alcatraz

Haunted Alcatraz
1933 was the year that J Edgar Hoover created a prison on the Island of the Pelicans in San Francisco Bay. Prisons all over the United States were invited to send the worst of the worst to the remote location, where escape meant not just breaking out of cell blocks and steel bars, but also swimming or boating past guns, across a foggy, choppy bay. Al Capone, Doc Barker, and Machine Gun Kelly were just a few of the famous criminals who spent time on the rock. Alcatraz Island quickly became synonymous with ‘most forbidding prison”, and tall tales grew up around the landmass.

Even before the creation of America’s most notorious prison, the island bore a reputation for being haunted. Native American tribes of the Bay Area spoke of the place with dread; Mark Twain maintained that, even in summer, the island was cold and grim. During the Civil War, southern sympathizers and prisoners of war were held in dank underground areas without light or furniture, further adding to the mystique of the area.

Once rebuilt into a prison, the facility at Alcatraz was designed to thoroughly crack the souls of hardened criminals and create broken men capable of rehabilitation. Many of those incarcerated here defiantly fought back – sometimes trying to escape even while knowing that the attempt was certain suicide. It’s not surprising that guards soon started reporting paranormal activity, such as hearing moans in areas without people. Stories of inmates killed by ghosts or demonic creatures began to circulate, and the penitentiary quickly became known for being haunted.

Today, visitors can explore the island by night in pursuit of the bizarre and the otherworldly. These guided visits begin with a narrated cruise around the island. Once ashore, visitors are shown the cellblocks and invited to participate in mini-tours or other experiences. Tickets for these trips can be obtained at the Fisherman’s Wharf area of San Francisco; while they are available online at several sites, one will pay a surcharge for the convenience. Night tours book especially quickly, so it’s important to make reservations as soon as one arrives in the city.

After a visit, it’s fun to find souvenirs to bring back home. The Golden Gate National Park Conservancy operates several stores on the island, with items ranging from apparel to books. In addition, bookstores such as the famed City Lights Books on Columbus Avenue carry titles about the prison and its inmates.

You Should Also Read:
Ghost Stories of California

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This content was written by Korie Beth Brown, Ph.D. . If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Korie Beth Brown, Ph.D. for details.