In July of 1877, seven Irish coal miners, thought to be members of the elusive Molly Maguires and prosecuted by the Pinkerton Detective Agency, were hung in gallows erected inside the former Carbon County Prison in what was then known as Mauch Chunk, now Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. One of the executed, widely believed to be a man by the name of Alexander Campbell, put his hand on the floor of his cell and rubbed it in the dirt. He placed it on the wall and left a print, telling everyone that it would remain there as proof of his innocence. That hand print is still visible today, even though past wardens have washed it, painted over it, and even replastered over it, or so the tale goes.
The prison isn’t used to house inmates anymore but instead has been turned into, The Old Jail Museum. The Museum is open as a historical exhibit but on 3 Saturdays in October opens up for ghost tours. I emailed Mary Lou McBride, who runs the museum along with her husband, who was kind enough to give me some insight into what visitors can expect during a ghost tour. She said that they can’t really predict what will go on. Sometimes they have a lot of activity in one day and other times they could go weeks with nothing. She did say that there’s more activity during the day but that some of the tours this year were particularly eventful with people feeling as if they got touched and loads of pictures with orbs, mists and black shadows turning up.
Unfortunately the ghost tours of the Old Jail Museum are over this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning for next year–it also doesn’t mean you can count out Jim Thorpe as a haunted destination. I’ve written about Jim Thorpe previously. It’s a cool small town located in the Lehigh Valley that’s known for outdoor activity.
The Old Jail isn’t the only haunted location in town; It’s an old town chock full of interesting history. There’s been 220 years of mining going on in the area, at one point it was the biggest tourism destination in the country and a large fire destroyed much of the town in 1849. Walk this Way Tour provides walking ghost tours of the town from May through Labor Day while the local Rotary Club sponsors tours in the fall into December.
Both of these tours start at The Inn at Jim Thorpe, a New Orleans style hotel right in the middle of town that’s coincidentally, is also supposedly haunted. Guests of the inn have claimed to have things moved around in the middle of the night, gotten locked in the bathrooms and small children have said that they’ve seen ghosts in their beds. If you request it, they’ll gladly put you up in one of the “haunted” rooms (310,211,315 & 303 all reportedly have a lot of activity).
The last thing worth noting is that the Harry Packer Mansion , which is also a hotel and dinner theatre locale, was the inspiration for Disney’s Haunted Mansion. Check out my previous Jim Thorpe post if you’re looking for something less scary to do during the day time or if you’re still in the mood for something Halloweenesque, travel an hour due west and check out PA’s own ghost town, Centralia.