Located in the San Francisco Bay in California, the small island of Alcatraz was developed with various facilities such as a lighthouse, military prison, and federal prison from 1934 until 1963. This island is home to the earliest abandoned prison, oldest lighthouse on the west coast, and early military establishments. During its time as a federal prison, it was known for housing inmates that were causing trouble in other prisons; also making it hard to escape since it was in the middle of the bay with unpredictable water currents. Most of the prisoners were notorious for being bank robbers or murders and some of the most famous criminals such as Machine Gun Kelly and the most famous…Al Capone!
During the 29 years of operation, the prison claimed no prisoner has successfully escaped. There were various escape attempts but most drowned. It is said that during the Battle of Alcatraz, a violet prison revolt, the most famous escape attempt occurred. These three inmates were believed to have drowned in their attempt as well but to popular belief, it is said they swam to shore and escaped. The prison closed in 1963 as the costs were triple of other prisons and the salt water had eroded the prison. Today, it is managed by the National Park Service which allows tours of the facility and to get there, it takes about a 15-minute ferry ride on the bay.
The island is Alcatraz has a very dark and spooky history; it is known has America’s most haunted prison. With such a violent past, there is no shock that there would be spirits left behind, still doing their time. There are several popular ghost stories from Alcatraz, some being unknown spirits to others being about famous spirits, such as Al Capone. Today, visitors to the island report hearing screams, the slamming of doors, and voices throughout the prison.
Cell 14-D is said to be the most haunted section of the prison, bringing the attention from paranormal investigators. This cell was known as “The Hole”, where prisoners would go for punishment. People report that it is always cold there, even in the winter and there is a sudden intense feeling when walking into the block, like they were being suffocated. Reports says the ghosts linger in the cells of 11, 12, and 13.
In 2014, visitors took a photo and when they looked back at it, they were shocked at what they saw. There was a young woman staring into the camera and there was no one around when they took the photo… thus she has been named “The Ghost Woman of Alcatraz” as no one knows who she is.
And the most famous spirit, Al Capone, is said to still be haunting the walls of the prison. Capone spent his last years, playing banjo in the prison’s band and fearing that he would be killed playing in the open, he would practice in the prison’s shower. There have been reports of hearing this music coming from the showers and throughout the halls to this day.
While there are various reports of paranormal activity in the prison, these three accounts seem to be the most popular… but there could still be other inmates’ spirits, stuck in the prison, doing time for eternity.
Christmas Haunted Special Facts
Did you know that Alcatraz has holiday style hauntings?
According to an article written on Mental Floss by Claire Cock-Starkey, “One of the more famous tales associated with the island supposedly occurred in the 1940s, when warden James Johnston held a Christmas Day party at his residence for the staff at the prison. The good cheer is said to have been brought to a swift halt when an apparition sporting mutton-chop whisker and a gray suit appeared. The temperature in the room plummeted and the fire blew out, before returning to normal when the spirit disappeared about a minute later. The rattled guards were too scared to stay in the residence, and the rest of the Christmas celebration ended abruptly.” (Cock-Starkey, 2017).
Even the spirits have Christmas spirit!
Going to visit and investigate Alcatraz has been a dream of mine since I was a child! This is on the future investigation list with Ivy once it is safe to travel again!
https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/516454/7-spine-tingling-tales-christmas-ghosts (Cock-Starkey, 2017 reference)
To Note: Some of this information has also been gathered through years of studying this location, talking to local investigators/locals, watching/reading every source, and hearing these rumors firsthand.