266 Water Street, Eddyville, KY

(270) 388-2211

Status: Operational Maximum Security and Supermax Prison


No Public Access


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In 1880 three Prison Commissioners were given the task of finding the best location for a branch penitentiary.

In April of 1884 the Act was passed in the Kentucky State Legislature to build the prison in the Eddyville area. A ledge overlooking the Cumberland River was chosen as the site.

The prison officially opened on December 24, 1890 and immediately began easing the overcrowding at the Frankfort Penitentiary.

The new branch prison had a capacity for 1,000 prisoners and came in under budget at $484,140 ($16,005,350 in 2023 dollars).

By 1889 the prison was already overcrowded – yes even before the official opening - which led to a program allowing some prisoners to work outside of the penitentiary’s walls.  This program, however, was ended quickly when over 50% of the prisoners escaped and the incidences of guards abusing prisoners – when they weren’t under the prison administration’s eyes – dramatically increased.

In the first decades of it’s existence a sign hung above the front entrance: “Abandon all hope all ye who enter here”.

In September of 1910 the electric chair was installed at the penitentiary and a Death House was built.

In 1912 the facility became the Kentucky State Penitentiary while Frankfort became the Kentucky Reformatory. All prisoners 30 and under were moved to the Reformatory and older than 30 were jailed in the penitentiary.

On July 13, 1928 seven men were executed one by one in the electric chair starting shortly after midnight. By far the most executions in one day.

163 men were put to death in Old Sparky and 2 men were put to death by lethal injection in total.

The last execution in Kentucky took place in 2008 in this prison by lethal injection.


Paranormal Activity

This an operational maximum security and super max prison; except for staff and those visiting prisoners there is no entry period.

The river below the prison grounds has flooded over the original Eddyville and it is said that many people refused to leave and were caught by the quickly rising water. Strange lights are seen under the water after dark to this day.

It said you can’t walk 10 feet in the prison area without coming across a place where something violent took place.

Most of the reports of paranormal activity come from staff members over the decades.

There are numerous reports of the apparitions of prisoners seen both in unused cells as well as on the grounds. In the majority of these reports the ghosts showed an obvious awareness of the living.

The former Death House is the most active building.

Many staff have reported having vivid nightmares about the prison.

There are also reports of sounds as if someone is at the front gate either yelling or banging to get in. When investigated there is never anyone there.

Other Reported Activity: shadow figures; objects moving on there own; electrical disturbances; disembodied voices and screams; cold spots; empathic feelings of intense negativity; sudden physical symptoms including migraines and nausea; phantom footsteps; light anomalies; a long list of unexplained sounds including sudden bangs and feelings of being watched and not being wanted.