MARSHALL COUNTY, W. Va. — A first-of-its-kind event came to the former West Virginia State Penitentiary in Moundsville, as thrill-seekers gathered for an evening of eeriness.
"The history is great. It’s incredible,” said Jason McKinney, tour guide. “But, we also have a lot of the mystery here and that’s what drew me in. First was the paranormal, the ghosts, the spirits, all the stories of the unexplained phenomenon going on in here."
Visitors don’t have to travel far in this prison to see its history and sense a spooky presence.
McKinney said it's haunted by the past.
"The prison itself had opened up in 1866, closed in March of 1995,” he said. “This was West Virginia’s only maximum-security prison during that time. It was actually one of the most violent prisons in the country. We had 998 documented deaths here."
NEWS9 toured the north side of the prison, which holds the oldest cells housing the most frightening inmates.
The cells are still in their original form. On Halloween night, they were open for the public to see.
"These are 5x7x7 cells,” McKinney said. “These men were kept in here for mostly 23 hours a day. Of course, this is where the most violent troublemakers were housed in the prison, so that’s why they were on lockdown that long.”
The tour doesn’t stop there. McKinney showed us the medical floor of the prison along with two rooms used for solitary confinement.
At Wednesday night's event, one lucky -- or perhaps not so lucky -- raffle ticket winner was locked in a room for 30 minutes.
McKinney said the Halloween Party held at the penitentiary is just one of the many events bringing in thousands of visitors each and every year.
"Not only does it help Moundsville and Marshall County, but it helps West Virginia as a whole,” he said. “It helps people understand West Virgina’s history, but also the history of corrections and how far corrections have come in the last 150 years or so."
"It’s extremely important that this place is open and that we can offer -- not just events like this -- but our typical events and activities.”
For those a little more brave, they will be staying there throughout the night in complete darkness.