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Alcatraz

Listed under Paranormal in San Francisco, United States.

  • Photo of Alcatraz
  • Photo of Alcatraz
  • Photo of Alcatraz
  • Photo of Alcatraz
  • Photo of Alcatraz
  • Photo of Alcatraz
  • Photo of Alcatraz
Photo of Alcatraz
Photo by flickr user b r e n t
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In the middle of a cold, grey bay, surrounded by dangerous waters keeping the warmth of the city lights out and the damp and fog in sits a lonely rock on which the notorious prison Alcatraz was built to house some of the people America feared most. Alcatraz wasn’t designed with rehabilitation in mind, from its opening in 1934 until it closed in 1963 it was a place of punishment and fear, this is where difficult prisoners were sent to be broken and many men subjected to the harsh treatment naked, beaten and deprived of light, sound and food in the ‘Hole’ cells ended up dead or insane. Is it any wonder that these harsh blank halls and chilly four by eight foot cement cells absorbed the ill-will and negative energy of those who were forcibly confined here, howling and screaming in their distress? Parapsychologists have suggested that this kind of tortured life and traumatic death is what leaves its mark on a place and causes the strange occurrences people attribute to ghosts or spirits.

Before it was a federal prison, the island was used to house military convicts who were kept in chains and slept on stone floors in freezing conditions and were left to exist amongst their own filth and disease. At the end of the Civil War Indian Chiefs who refused to relinquish their land and titles and were causing trouble were brought here as well - some people believe that these Indians are responsible for some of the earliest spiritual or paranormal activity; Native Americans already believed ‘the rock‘ was a place for evil spirits to meet. By the beginning of the 20th Century the islands criminal population was burgeoning and were put to work expanding the prison - which could also explain the nasty vibes people say the island radiates.

By the 20s and 30s Alcatraz was a fortress for big name prisoners like Al Capone (who is one of the most recognisable spirits), Robert Stroud (the infamous Birdman), Machine Gun Kelly, Doc Barker and Alvin Karpis. Capone did several stints in one of Alcatraz’s ‘Holes’ and despite starting out believing he was a celebrity he ended up a damaged man. More men took their lives and suffered mental breakdowns by percentage here than in any other prison, men chopped off their own limbs, slit their own throats and one spent almost 22 months in solitary confinement - the spirits of Alcatraz are violent and disturbed.

During daylight tour groups looking for a chilly thrill walk through what is left of the prison but at night its a different story: strange clanging sounds come from inside boarded up corridors and cells and night watchmen have reported hearing the sound of men running coming from the ruined upper corridors. Murmured voices are said to be heard in the hospital ward and screams from the dungeons, where the Indian Chiefs were held and from the ‘Hole’ cells which are icy cold, even when the rest of the prison is boiling hot. 14D (D Block), one of the Holes was feared by inmates as well, who have reported seeing glowing red eyes there - one crim supposedly strangled himself (?) in this cell and was seen afterwards in prison line ups by groups of guards and prisoners. Phantom gunshots are another common Alcatraz phenomenon, both pre and post closure.

Capone spent a lot of his time towards the end of his stint in Alcatraz playing the banjo and a number of people (some of them Park Rangers now looking after the site) have reported hearing strange banjo music coming from the shower room where those in the know say Capone was supposed to have been allowed to practice because he thought he‘d be murdered if he went out in the yard. Even though Capone was transferred, completed his sentence and was freed people still believe his disorientated spirit left its mark here with the other tortured souls.

More than a million people now visit Alcatraz each year, among them ghost hunters and psychics and they are seldom disappointed, Richard Senate spent a night there and later said, “emotions seem to drip from ever corner of Alcatraz.”. I would have to agree with him, in cell 14D I felt an icy pressure on the back of my neck and the base of my spine and an intense presence radiating from the corner of the room (could this be the same place where the unlucky inmate saw the glowing eyes manifest?), while in 12D (also a Hole) I felt the temperature drop suddenly and I felt my fingers tingle sharply in the hospital. A colleague touring the dungeons on another occasion said he had a sudden mental picture of the mutilated bodies of men in uniforms strung up in chains pop into his head accompanied by a gust of wind which seemed to come from nowhere. He also sensed unexpected hostility in the laundry room, his research later turned up records that a prisoner had been murdered there. If residual evil survives anywhere it will be here on ‘the rock’.

Written by  Jon Falkes.

Other expert and press reviews

“Escape from Alcatraz”

By Tom de Castella for The Sunday Times First Published August 16 2009 The pilot kills the engine and soon we are rocking in the waves. Alcatraz is 15 yards away, my starting point. A mile and a half across the bay lies the prize of San Francisco … Read more...

Written by press. Continue reading on timesonline.co,uk

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