Thursday, November 05, 2009

Moundsville, Part III, Prison Part B

The next part of the tour took us around the prison and into the more recent of the various wings. And by "recent", we're still talking about a pretty decrepit, old, and ratty section of the prison. One thing about this place is that it was COLD! The day was sunny and warm, but that damned place was frigid! The tour guide had warned us to bring coats, so we had. It was a good thing, too. She did tell us that in the summer it was every bit as hot in there as it was cold during the winter months. In summer the temperatures in that building would hover as high as 108 degrees. In winter as cold inside as it was outside. I cannot imagine being incarcerated in that shit hole.

This was one of the first actual cells we saw. I was stunned at how small they were. About seven feet by four feet.

This was a part of the prison for especially violent prisoners. There was an even more exclusive section of four cells where they always kept the four most dangerous men in the prison. That section is where the top two (Avengers Motorcycle Club members) were murdered by Aryan Brotherhood members (one of the Avengers was stabbed thirty-seven times).

Our guide telling us gruesome stories of the violence that ran like a current through that place. It's at times like this that I wonder why I think my supernatural horror stories can hold a candle to the horrors that men perpetrate on one another.

Another cafeteria. There were several in the prison.

If you'll look at the link for the Jimmy Stewart movie that I posted yesterday you will see a scene with this contraption in it. This was a cage that moved people from three different sections of the prison into the main holding tank. This was a really well engineered contraption that, despite its weight, was easily swiveled with no effort by our guide. I got into it and experienced the brief ride. There were only two like this on Earth--this one and one in the UK.

A totally abandoned part o the prison. Not even on the tour. I saw it while I was on the turnaround and took a quick shot.

Yet another part of this nightmare of a building. If there are ghosts, whatever walks here walks in droves.

This is definitely one place I would NOT want to be at night with the lights out.

Yep. The prison had its own post office. This was the main window.

Out in the grimy yard. One place that's not on the tour are the guard towers. These are, of course, the places I'd most like to see.

At one time this bathroom in the prison yard was private. But a prisoner had his face sliced off in there for being a smartass. They put his face back on and moved him to another prison where he was promptly carved up again. (Apparently he had a knack for cutting remarks.) After his face was sliced off they took the walls down on the toilets so no one could do that again. At least not in private.

This was the part where they locked us in the cell. I did not like this, at all. The cells were very, very small and I'd have certainly gone mad if cooped up in there for hours.

Our guide on the second floor closing off the cells by remote control.

Then it was into the small prison museum. There were two interesting things in the small museum. One was "Old Sparky", the electric chair. It was used to kill nine inmates. The thing was built by a prison inmate who had been a skilled carpenter before being incarcerated. After he built it they had to send him to another prison because the other prisoners had placed a death warrant on his head for building it for the warden.

And this was the other interesting artifact in the museum: A hand-written letter from Charles Manson to the warden of the prison. Manson was from the area (his mom had been an inmate in that very prison--as had a number of his other close relatives), and he wanted to be transferred from California to the West Virginia Pen. The warden told him "when Hell freezes over". I don't know why Manson would have wanted to be there, though. The place was a travesty. Hot, cold, filthy, ultra-violent, crawling with rats and roaches, old, leaky...I just don't get it.

After that, we were driving back toward North Bend, taking time to stop and look at the Ohio River from the Ohio side. All in all, it was a really good day of looking at some amazing American history.

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