“We’re all of us haunted and haunting.” Chuck Palahniuk
Living here in beautiful Alta California, we are accustomed to sunny vistas of dramatic green hills and mountains, and the spectacular and ever changing Pacific’s picturesque shores. But not all classic California sites are so wholesome and appealing. Alcatraz Island, with its legions of infamous federal prisoners who were incarcerated there from 1934 through 1963, is a legendary stomping ground of countless evil spirits. Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly, and Robert Stroud, the “Birdman of Alcatraz,” called this place home. But, long, long ago, before statehood, local Native Americans used Alcatraz as a place of banishment for those community members who broke the rules and needed to be punished. And those same Native Americans believed Alcatraz, or “The Rock” was filled with evil spirits. Many modern day people believe that Alcatraz is still haunted by both ancient natives and countless past criminals.
The most haunted area on Alcatraz is the legendary D-Block.
Solitary confinement on the island meant that the prisoner had no contact with other inmates, did not eat or work with other inmates, only visited the recreation area once a week and had reading as their only diversion. Five special cells in D-Block were “Strip Cells” where prisoners were punished by having to strip naked and endure the cold and constant chilly drafts from the San Francisco Bay. The sixth special cell was referred to as “The Hole.” It was like the other five cells, except that it was made of steel and totally dark. The sensory deprivation and cold endured by the prisoner meant that he could only stay one or two days, tops, and then was returned to a less harsh situation. In the 1940s, there was an account of a prisoner who was placed in “The Hole,” who immediately started screaming that a demon with glowing eyes was trying to kill him. Hours later the screams abruptly stopped, and the prisoner was found strangled to death in the morning. No explanation could be found for what occurred. Sounds of crying women were often heard in hallways, and cold spots in and outside different cells could not be explained. Guards reported hearing unexplained gunshots and cannon fire, and seeing strange apparitions wandering around the grounds. Some guards refused to go alone in D-Block, and could not shake the feelings of doom. Over the last sixty years, many psychics and ghost hunters have come to Alcatraz and all have felt the psychic power of past occupants of these forbidding halls.
After all these years, Alcatraz still attracts around a million curious and somewhat morbid visitors every year.
Halloween is a perfect time to explore this notorious former home of gangsters, murderers and felons. Day tours to Alcatraz are creepy enough, but night tours are available for those folks who are not easily frightened . Perhaps this is the time for you to travel back in time by visiting one of the most disturbing, yet fascinating places around: Alcatraz.
Alcatraz Island Tour Tickets are available at Alcatraztickets.com and tours run Tuesday through Sunday. Call for more information at 212.852.4822.