Old Jail Museum – Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania - Atlas Obscura

Old Jail Museum

This jail which was in service for over a century is now open for curious visitors. 


The Old Jail Museum in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, protects the memory of a monolithic 1800’s jail and its supposed bevy of ghosts.

The former Carbon County Prison was used in service as a correctional facility from 1871 to 1995, holding over a century’s worth of inmates and even acting as the site of some high profile executions. The two-story jail has 72 rooms and 27 cells, including a basement dungeon where prisoners were kept in solitary confinement. The most famous occurrence in the jail was the execution on June 21, 1877, of four coal miners who were allegedly members of the “Molly Maguires,” a secret society of Irish-Americans active in 19th century Pennsylvania. In a highly unscrupulous trial led against the miners by the coal company, the workers were hanged for the murder of two mine bosses.

Today the jail is preserved as a museum where visitors can come and wander the cells and warden’s quarters, seeing the bleak stone interiors of the historic cells. The site plays up the possible haunting by the executed inmates and, most unsettlingly, a mysterious, impossible-to-remove handprint stained on the wall of one of the cells. The handprint is said to belong to Alexander Campbell who, just before his execution, is alleged to have slapped his muddy hand on the wall and said “There is proof of my words. That mark of mine will never be wiped out. It will remain forever to shame the county for hanging an innocent man.” 

Know Before You Go

Wander the Old Jail's cold hallways, past Cell 17 with its mysterious handprint on the wall, under the gallows where the accused Molly Maguires were put to death, and down into the eerie dungeon.

Due to the high cost of heating the building, the Old Jail Museum is closed from November to May. 

In partnership with KAYAK

Plan Your Trip

From Around the Web