West Virginia Penitentiary at Moundsville opened for full operation in 1876.

In 1929, a massive expansion to double the size of the Penitentiary began. The new wall construction was not completed until 1959 due to steel shortage during World War II. The construction eased the overcrowding that had caused the need for triple bunking in the prison's tiny 5 x 7 foot cells.

During the history of the prison, a total of 94 men were executed. From 1899-1949, eighty-five men were hung. In 1951 the State began using an electric chair. Nine men had been electrocuted until the state abolished the death penalty in 1959.

In 1986, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the Penitentiary's tiny cells were cruel and unusual punishment. The Moundsville Penitentiary closed its doors in 1995


In July 2002 we attended a ghost hunt at Moundsville prison. We first learned of this prison through MTV Fear, its first episode was shot there. For a fee of $50.00, just like Mansfield prison, we were permitted access throughout the entire prison from dusk till dawn. A showing of the episode of MTV Fear was included with a dinner of pizza and pop. It was a extremely hot and muggy night for wandering around an old prison, the temperature inside must have been over 100 degrees. We began our journey by entering one of the huge yard areas. This was quite overwhelming, standing in the darkness surrounded by giant stone walls on all four sides. It was hard to imagine spending your days here.

The prison had a very eerie appeal, especially when it started to thunderstorm. Imagine walking around an old, abandoned prison while hearing loud booms of thunder and lightning flashing in the windows. It was definitely cool! We spent hours wandering around, encountering old cells covered with the past writings of cellmates. Many of the cell walls had paintings, writings, and pictures still intact . This was very interesting, reading the words of convicted felons, getting a piece of what was going on in their minds. We spent a lot of time in the yards, which had a basketball court, mailroom, and many other areas with barbed wire all over them. This is also where we encountered the bats for the first time. Yes, there were bats everywhere, flying over our heads, at our faces, making us scream and run away. It made the night even more interesting.

The scariest place in the entire prison had to be the basement, and for those who have seen MTV Fear will know that this is where the Sugar Shack is located. The Sugar Shack is supposed to be the most haunted place in the prison. It was extremely dark and quiet down there, very eerie. The pictures painted all over the walls were very strange, and made us think that the room could indeed be haunted. There were also Halloween props, from the haunted house they have there, spread out all over the basement which just added to the creepyness effect.

Overall it was worth the trip to Moundsville, we had a great time exploring this abandoned prison.

For more info visit the official site of the West Virginia Prison