Author: Donna L

Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary

eastern state
Eastern State


Charles Williams was the first inmate admitted to Eastern State Penitentiary. The year was 1829 and Charles, a poor farmer, was sentenced there for stealing a horse. He spent two years of his life in the controversial Pennsylvania System. The institution was designed to bring out the “inner light” of the men and women sentenced to serve time here, according to author Francis X. Dolan. (Images of American Eastern State Penitentiary)

The institution was designed by an Englishman by the name of John Haviland and his design was one of most creative that the world had ever seen. Covering a total of 12 acres, the land was purchased for $800.000 and construction took 14 years to complete. The institution was built as an alternative to the over crowded and disease riddled 18th century prisons. Each cell was lit only by skylights or windows, considered to be the “Window of God.”  The Church considered this part of the mission for redemption. The institution was eventually noted for cruelty by use of solitary confinement and the draping of  hoods on the inmates. This treatment was intentional and thought to be the cure all for man’s misdeeds.The hoods were also used to protect the identity of the inmates from each other and with the hopes of being given a fair chance at reentering society. At the same time, inmates were taught trades with the hopes of reentering society. The doors of Eastern State Penitentiary closed in 1971 after 142 years of operation. It reopened to visitors in 1994 as a museum and is also considerate a haunted landmark. Eastern State has been investigated by many paranormal research groups. If you are road touring in Pennsylvania, this stop is highly recommended.

Al Capone was an inmate of Eastern State
Al Capone


In 1924 Eastern State Penitentiary received a black Labrador retriever named Pep, Inmate No. C2559. The dog was sentenced to life for murder: Pep killed a house cat. Pep eventually became a companion for the guards and also brought a little bit of joy to inmates. Several years later Pep was followed by Lady, a beagle who belonged to the captain of the guards. Other pets at the prison included birds and cats and one prisoner was allowed to keep a rabbit in his cell.

eastenr state and dog
Canine Inmate
Eastern State cruelty towards inmates
Inhumane Treatment of Inmates


  •  In 1842 Charles Dickens visited the institution and wrote his book American Notes.
  • The youngest inmate was 12 year-old Wilmer Jackson, sentenced in 1934 for second-degree murder.
  • Notorious gangster Al Capone (Scarface) arrived at Eastern State Penitentiary in 1929 to serve an 8 month sentence for carrying a concealed weapon
  • Corporal punishment was not allowed at Eastern State Penitentiary. Instead loss of exercise time and a reduction is food was the chosen method of discipline. However one inmate, later deemed incurably insane was subjected to a shower bath where buckets of water were repeatedly dumped on him in the hopes of a cure.
  • There was a scandal and investigation in 1835 when a prisoner died from a device called the iron gag. A mental brace was inserted into the mouth with chains also attached to the inmate’s wrists. The device would become tighter the more the inmate struggled. All prison officials were exonerated.
Another View of Eastern States

The Kindness of People

I recently found this information about staff at Eastern State and wanted to share this short story as presented by the original author.  (Originally Posted: May 11, 2012)

As we said goodbye to 2011, we also said goodbye to one of Eastern State’s most beloved artist installations. Linda Brenner’ “Ghost Cats” were created in 2005 and became one of ESP’s longest-running installations.They were meant to represent the colony of feral cats that inhabited Eastern State in its period of abandonment from 1971-1991.A city worker named Dan McCloud was assigned to watch over the site, which had mainly become a storage facility for the city of Philadelphia. He took it upon himself to watch over the cats that had made ESP their home. Dan McCloud fed the cats a few times a week for the duration of his time here. When Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, Inc. took over the management of the prison complex, the cats were all spayed and neutered and eventually all passed on. Linda Brenner’s installation, entitled “Ghost Cats,” was a tribute to the cats and to the man who so graciously took care of them.We will miss having the ghost cats around the site. But, they were designed to fade away over time, and now that time has come. We look forward to this 2012 season and to all of the new things on site – four new artist installations, four new Hands-On History tours, and lots of special events.
As a final tribute to the Ghost Cats, I invite you to browse the photos I’ve taken (shown right) of their departure from the penitentiary.(Tracy Lynn Kendig, Programs and Operations Supervisor)

Enjoy This Video

Thanks for stopping by and please feel free to leave comments or questions below.




Halloween Witches and More

Halloween Witches and More


Bats are a huge part of Halloween.

Here are historical takes on the meaning of Halloween, Halloween witches, and how this night has evolved to the celebration it is today. Do you make Halloween part of your paranormal experience? What do you do to celebrate on October 31st? Do you believe in the paranormal, the possibility of ghosts and hauntings? Do you believe in the superstitions surrounding black cats? 

Black cats reveice a bad rap.

In many parts of the United States, no adoptions are allowed during the month of October based on the history of the poor cats being used in Satanic rituals on October 31st. I lived in Miami, Florida from 1998-2005 and the police department actually had a Voodoo Squad that routinely had incidents with people involved in these activities. Animals were killed for such practices. Halloween is definitely not just about candy!

A medieval myth tells us that Satan turned himself into a cat when meeting with with witches. Today, black cats are not always viewed as bad luck. In Ireland, Scotland and England, if a black cat crosses your path, it’s considered good luck. I’m glad that the line of thinking has changed in some parts of the world!

witch in halllway.

There are many symbols related to Halloween and they include:

  • Spiders
  • Bats
  • Costumes
  • Candy
  • Apples
  • Pumpkins
  • Mischief
  • Color orange
  • Color Black
  • Witches
  • Broomsticks
  • Cauldrons

True Horror On Halloween

Timothy O’Bryan Poisoning 1974







St. Mary’s College

St. Mary’s College

 St. Mary’s College-AKA Hell House

st marys
St. May’s College

Here’s a road trip adventure for you but, leave the kids at home for this one! Not for the faint of heart, St. Mary’s College, also know as Hell House is repudiated to be haunted based on the evil deeds committed by a priest who murdered five female students. The story is that he hung them all over a pentagram on the first floor of the dwelling and then took his own life. The dwelling can be seen from the winding River Road and then one is taken to the overgrown stairs that lead one directly to Hell House.

Strange Formation


Originally intended to be a tavern, Hell House became a Redemptorist seminary called  Mount Clement which later became St. Mary’s College. Built back in the 1800’s and  located in Ilchester, Maryland, it is isolated and completely surrounded by woods. The stone house and land were sold to the Redemptorists for $15,000 by a Mr. George Ellicott Jr. in 1866. The intent was to  provide services for Catholics in the surrounding communities. The first services were held in 1866 and the seminary itself opening in 1868. In 1997 a fire, caused by vandals, destroyed the former church and school. It currently sits in ruins.

A Burning


There have been a number reports of paranormal activity over the years which includes:

  • cold spots at the top of the stairs
  • screams of the murdered girls
  • feelings of being followed
  • uncontrollable need to cry
  • feelings of dizziness


Due to the dilapidated condition of Hell House, visiting is discouraged and the property is now privately owned. It is important to pay attention to any warning signs located on the premises. Walls are deteriorated and some people have been injured walking the site. There is a hiking trail in the area that allows for a full view of the dwelling and surrounding areas. Here is a video that includes Hell House. There certainly are many haunted places to road trip to in Maryland. Other locations include:

Fort McHenry-Baltimore

2400 E Fort Ave
Baltimore, Md. 21230
Hours: Daily 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Antietam Battlefield

Visitor Center
5831 Dunker Church Road
Sharpsburg, Md. 21782
(301) 432-5124

Dr. Samuel A. Mudd’s House

3725 Doctor Samuel Mudd Road
Waldorf, Md. 20601
(301) 645-6870

Maryland State House – Annapolis

Visitor Center located on 1st Floor – Archives Room
State Circle
Annapolis, Md.
(410) 974-3400

Jonathan Hager House

110 Key Street
Hagerstown, Md. 21740
(301) 739-8393

Bachelor’s Point – Denton

Wharves at Choptank Crossing
10219 River Landing Road
Denton, Md. 21629
(410) 479-0655
Hours: Any time

St. Paul’s Cemetery – Chestertown

7579 Sandy Bottom Rd.
Chestertown, Md. 21620
(410) 778-1540
Hours: Dawn to Dusk

Baltimore County Almshouse

Baltimore County Historical Society
9811 Van Buren Lane
Cockeysville, Md. 21030
(410) 666-1878

Fort McHenry-Baltimore

2400 E Fort Ave
Baltimore, Md. 21230
Hours: Daily 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Thanks for stopping by and please feel free to leave a comment below!


Haunted U.S. Roads



Seven Gravity Roads in the U.S. Is This Paranormal?

Seven Gravity Roads in the U.S. Is This Paranormal?

Dark forest with a gravity road; onf of 7 gravity roads in the United States.
Mysteries of the forest

Go For A Ride

I was surprised to learn that tales pertaining to gravity roads rank as some of the most popular stories in the United States. Most of the tales surroundings these locations are similar with the involvement of a spirit or spirits assisting one’s vehicle uphill. If you are interested in checking out one of these notorious spots during your paranormal road trips, here are the locations.

Nighr ride down a gravity road.

Central Florida-Spook Hill is located in Polk County in a residential section of Lake Wales. Migrant workers reported that their carts moved backward uphill whenever they were on this road. This has actually become somewhat of a tourist attraction and there are signs posted marking the spot in the road. The areas is also believed to be haunted by the spirit of a Seminole Indian Chief.

Maryland-Ghost Hill Road in Boonsboro is located in the western part of the state and the reported story is that if one goes to this location at night, puts the car in neutral and turns the car off, the car will be pushed uphill by a ghost. It is not known who the ghost is.

Massachusetts-On Lowe Street in Leominster an unknown force will pull automobiles uphill. Cars have been reported to roll fifty feet against gravity if they are left in neutral at Magic Hill which is a slope on the street. There have been numerous reports of this activity over the years.

Kentucky-Elkhorn City boasts of its unknown soldier ghost who is said to pull cars up the road near his grave if the car is put into neutral. Local legends tell that the soldier has been around for quite some time. Visitors need to ask locals for the exact location.

New York-Spook Hill Road is located in Rockland County and is a very long road that eventually ends at Route 202. This area has been researched and the phenomenon is thought to be an optical illusion. If you want to give it a shot, the locals report that if you put your car in neutral and turn it off, you car will eventually roll uphill.

Vermont-This reportedly haunted road in located near the Canadian border in the town of Richford. The exact location of reported paranormal experiences is on a parcel of land referred to at the Mystery Spot. It has been reported that cars roll uphill at 15 mph.

Texas-In Jacob’s Crossing there is evidence of significant paranormal activity. This area has received quite a bit attention over the years regarding the story of the school bus that crashed killing all on board many years ago. There is a bridge located over a ravine out in the woods in this area and this is where the accident occurred. The same scenario applies as with the other locations; car is off and in neutral. Supposedly cars will move to the top of the incline where the force will stop and then the car will roll back across the bridge. Many people who visit the area sprinkle their cars with powder and have reported seeing children’s hand prints on their automobiles. Other reports claim to see large hand prints believed to be those of the bus driver.

What lurks on this road?

Let me know if you visit one of these locations or have a gravity road of your own in your local area. All comments are welcomed below.

Happy Travels,