Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania: Old Jail MuseumHistoric inmates quarters. See the cell with the hand print stain of the hanged man that cannot be removed!
- 128 West Broadway, Jim Thorpe, PA
- Exit NE Ext. of turnpike (476) and turn North (right) to Lehighton.
- Mem. Day - Lab. Day, 12 - 4:30 pm (closed W). Sept.-Oct. Sa-Su. 12 - 4:30 pm. (Call to verify)
- Adults $5, Seniors/Students $4, Kids 6-12 $3.
- RA Rates:
- Worth a Detour
Visitor Tips and News About Old Jail Museum
Don't miss the kitchen, warden quarters, women cells, and the gift shop. It is amazing to hear the history and that the jail was operating well into the 1980s. There are many photo opps, including the chance for your family to be photographed behind bars! The dungeon is especially fascinating. You can walk into most of the cells and see the furniture and props.
The hanging area is a little rattling for some. My kids ages 8, 11, and 12 found it interesting, and were not scared. Bring a flash camera to capture "orbs."[Susan W, 08/16/2011]
My wife and I were traveling through eastern PA when we happened to find ourselves in Jim Thorpe, PA. Instantly falling in love with the town, we were lucky to find a vacancy right in a B&B right on the main street. What to do on a Saturday night over the Halloween weekend in a strange town? Why, visit the ghost tour of the Old County Jail, of course!
They conduct a kitschy and low impact tour of the grounds guided by high school kids (most likely from the high school drama department), telling scary stories and lots and lots of waiting for the group before you move on. This waiting gives the more inquisitive visitor time to explore the rooms. They have almost all the lights off, so having a tiny key chain flashlight really helped out. as we peeked in closets and drawers. You can also really annoy the "believers" by making jokes about ghosts and making odd sounds. Hey, when the one guy said he was a "professional skeptic" I just HAD to ask where you get a degree in skepticism!
Overall it's an interesting journey and the amateur tour (which is not too bad) aside, from looking at how men and women where imprisoned here, is really something. The basement dungeon is especially poignant. To see where people were kept alone in tiny cells is touching. Oh, and while the guides are talking be sure to slip into one of the darker ones. Then, when people begin to poke around after the speeches just wait for someone to peek in. Then? bwahahahahahaha![Ron Lutz II, 11/09/2006]
This jail was opened in 1871. During that decade, seven men where hanged inside the jail, accused of being Molly Maguires. The Molly Maguires was a secret organization, composed mainly of Irish Catholics, that started one of the first labor movements in the country. Since the Irish were not well regarded by many facets of society at the time, one of the only jobs they could get was working in the coal mines. It was slave-labor since they only got pennies for their long hours, bought all their own work equipment from the bosses, had to pay rent to the coal bosses who owned their houses, and could only shop at the coal bosses' town store.
The Molly Maguires were found guilty of murdering coal management and vandalizing the mines and mining equipment.
The jail closed in January 1995. It is currently opened as a museum and the handprint of Alec Campell, accused Molly Maguire, is still visible in cell 17 despite numerous attempts to remove it.
The museum is only open from Memorial Day Weekend through October. Closed Wednesdays. I think there are tours every 30 minutes.[Jennifer Wayne, 07/19/2003]
The Old Jail was in use until the mid-late 1970s as the Carbon County Jail. It's now open for tours. The tour operator does a great job of showing you all the different areas in the jail from the regular cellblocks to the solitary confinement areas in the basement to the famous Cell 17, where a man, convicted of conspiracy to murder, left his handprint on the wall as he was being led to the gallows. He said that the handprint would remain for all time to prove his innocence, and it's survived being cleaned, being painted over, being concreted over and having a new wall put in. You figure it out.[Rich Hurd, 10/27/2002]
Combine your trip with a stop at the grave of legendary athlete Jim Thorpe, whose body was interred by the town for its promotional value.