Monday, November 1, 2010

City of Alton Part 3: Ghost Tour review

The Alton Penitentiary or Confederate Prison is a testament to man’s inhumanity to man.

I read about a ghost tour offered in Alton IL and decided to take it with some friends. We spent the day seeing the sites before having dinner and setting out for the tour. Previous articles outline other stops and you can read them by following the links below. This article features another fascinating stop on the tour - the ruins of the Alton Penitentiary, also referred to as the Confederate Prison.

Opened in 1833, the penitentiary was one of only a handful in existence in the country. While jails had been around for some time, no formal places had been developed for the long term incarceration of prisoners. Prisoners entering the penitentiary were expected to work hard all day, usually in the local quarries and then spend the night alone in their cells. Discipline was strict and usually amounted to beatings or floggings.

Originally designed with just 24 cells, it had 256 cells by the time it was shut down. The prison was leased from the state and the manager in charge was allotted $5000 to feed, house, guard and provide medical attention for the prisoners. He could keep whatever was left over. Undoubtedly this contributed to the rapid deterioration of conditions in the prison. Prison reformers focused attention on the dire Read More


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