Moundsville Prison

Moundsville, West Virginia, resembles so many other small towns along the Ohio River. There is, however, something that makes this place unique; it contains one of the largest burial mounds in the United States. Between 250 to 150 C.E., the Adena mound builders constructed the largest conical burial mound known. Typically, the people of that time were cremated after death and placed into small logs that were then covered with dirt and rocks. Inside the log, the Indians would place their native jewelry, pipes, and other various ornaments. This was their death ceremony. In the 1800s, this particular mound was measured at 69 feet in height and 295 feet at the base. Directly across the street from this structure sits the now-abandoned West Virginia Penitentiary, also called Moundsville Prison. Built to resemble the Gothic architecture of Europe, this prison was completed in 1876. By the 1990s, overcrowding in the nation’s prisons led to an all-time high in prison violence. More than 400 inmates died during Moundsville’s tenure—and only 98 of those were state-sanctioned deaths. Considering the amazing history of the area, Deadframe Paranormal Research was anxious to see what, if any, traces of the past might still be lingering in this aging building. The infirMary, located upstairs, seemed fairly inactive during the first investigation, but while walking through the second time, I immediately felt as though she was being “piggybacked,” a term used by paranormal researchers to indicate the presence of a spirit making physical contact. I became nauseous and dizzy, and immediately went back downstairs to the main entrance and sat on one of the provided benches. The feeling, whatever it may have been, passed within 30 minutes. Most remarkably, during the first visit to the penitentiary, Deadframe made our way out to the prison yard, which was once the site of the “Death House.” When West Virginia abolished the death penalty in 1959, many of the inmates voiced their concerns over the electric chair and the building which housed it—perhaps they considered it a grim reminder of their once-possible future. The state agreed and removed the building, replacing it with a basketball court for recreation. The court is surrounded by razor wire, and upon finding the surrounding fence unlocked, Deadframe entered the area to look around. Suddenly the wind, which had been calm, picked up to an alarming speed. Debris began flying, forcing our researchers to shield their eyes. It almost seemed as though the sky was growling. The moment our team left the yard, the wind halted. It didn’t just slow down gradually, it literally stopped as though it had never started. Upon inspection, there was not a cloud in the sky that night, not a storm in the area. Who or what caused this phenomenon? One of the many prisoners who drew their last breath in this location, or perhaps the millennia-old spirits of the Adena people, reminding all who enter that this was—and maybe is still—their land?

Written by — Jennifer S. Smith Lead Investigator, Deadframe Paranormal Research Group

TEL: 1 (304) 845-6200

Taken from the: Encyclopedia of Haunted Places -Ghostly Locales from around the World – Compiled & Edited by Jeff Belanger – Copyright 2005 by Jeff Belanger

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