Old Idaho Penitentiary opens Halloween night for ghostly tours
Posted on October 30, 2009 at 4:29 PM
Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 4:32 AM
BOISE -- For the first time in ten years, the Old Idaho Penitentiary will be giving guided tours on Halloween night. Historians at the prison say the stories they'll be sharing are true.
In 1872, inmates helped build the Old Idaho Penitentiary. 101 years later, prison officials closed the doors and left all the inmates bound for a new prison. 36 years later, stories of ghosts and paranormal activity haunt the prison.
Amber Beirle is a historian at the prison. She gave KTVB a private tour. Beirle's tour touched on escapes, tall tales, ghost stories and paranormal sightings.
The first stop on the tour - maximum security. "This is where the worst of the worst would stay," said Beirle.
On the second floor was an area inmates dreaded. "This is death row," said Beirle. "This is where inmates who were sentenced to be executed would spend their final months, final years."
In a room next door is the gallows, a place where inmates were executed by hanging. Raymond Snowden was one of the them. Snowden was convicted of first degree murder and executed in 1957, but something happened during his execution. "With a hanging, it's supposed to snap the spinal cord," Beirle said. "It's supposed to be an instant death. But it took him about 15 minutes for him to die." Beirle described how Snowden’s body hung in the air. Now, some say his ghost remains locked in the cells.
The tour next went to the oldest building on the property. "This is where a lot of people claim to, they say, 'man when I went into that building it felt like somebody was watching me'," Beirle said as she stood in the level four cell block.
The last stop was solitary confinement. Inmates called it Siberia. "I can not stretch out at all," Beirle said. There's a reason for that. The cell is only about four feet wide and nearly eight feet in length.
The longest recorded stay in solitary confinement at the Old Idaho Penitentiary is a year and a half. One man claimed he stayed in for three years. Guards say solitary confinement is a place where some inmates went insane.
"I'm here somewhat alone a lot of the time," said Beirle. "You can't deny the creepy feeling that goes on here."
The "Frightened Felons Halloween" tours will begin at 6 p.m. Halloween night and will go until ten.
Family tours go from 6 pm. to 8:30 p.m. The cost of the tours are $10 for ages 12 and up and $8 for kids.The tour is not recommended for children 5 and under.