(Moundsville Penitentiary)

818 Jefferson Avenue, Moundsville, WV

(304) 845-6200

Status: Former Prison; Tourist Attraction


Public and Private Paranormal Investigations Available


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Both Photos Courtesy of BreezeBabyBrie


The land was bought in 1866 and construction was begun on the new prison; the location was chosen because of its proximity to the then state capitol, Wheeling. The prison opened in 1876 as one of the most fearsome looking prisons having being built in the Gothic style. The facility opened with 251 male prisoners and room for a total of 480 but by the 1930s its population was exceeding 2,400. At times 3 inmates occupied one 5 x 7 cell.

The first execution occurred in 1899 and in total of 94 men were put to death in the prison – 85 were hung and the remaining 9 died in the electric chair – the original electric chair is on display here.

At one point the prison was on the US Department of Justice’s 10 Most Violent Correctional Institutions list. 36 homicides were recorded inside the prison’s walls. The most infamous area was a recreational area called the “Sugar Shack” where fighting and rapes were common.

The prison was closed in 1995 due to the number of riots and escapes and a ruling by the West Virginia Supreme Court that said the cells were so small that they constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

This location is open to the public. It is open for many different tours both in the day and in the night. There are 2 ghost tours available, both for a 6-hour duration – a public one and a private one.

During October the prison is converted into a haunted house.

This location was home to the 2021 West Virginia Paranormal Convention.


Paranormal Activity

The ghost of a maintenance man who was stabbed to death by prisoners in the basement for telling the guards on them.

The circular entrance gate still turns on its own; eternally bringing in prisoners to the facility.

Areas where paranormal activity is most common include: The Sugar Shack – an indoor area used when the outdoor exercise yard could not be used; Death Row, the Shower Cages and the North Wagon Gate – where prisoners were held before execution in the days previous to the electric chair.

Other reported activity – phantom footsteps; disembodied voices screams, crying, pleading, banging and other loud noises; light anomalies; extreme feeling of unease and being watched and disembodied laughing.