Tuesday, October 16, 2012


As an experienced paranormal investigator (tongue firmly planted in cheek), I can't resist seeking out supposedly haunted locations, especially when vacationing.  On our way back from Niagara Falls this year, we just had to stop in Mansfield, Ohio and check out the Ohio State Reformatory, also known as the Mansfield Reformatory.  It has been the subject of numerous ghost themed shows, such as SyFy's Ghost Hunters, as well as a popular destination for paranormal adventurers across the country.

One look at the building and you just figure it's a place that has to be haunted.  Actually, the grand style of architecture was intentional.  When the prison was begun in 1886, the guys in charge thought that the building itself would inspire the inmates to change their evil ways and experience a rebirth during their incarceration.  It operated as a working prison until 1990 and over 150,000 men were housed there over its lifetime.  The place is huge, over 250,000 square feet, and looks like a joint the Addams family would find very homey.

The Inmates and I arrived with our ghost meter (which has never turned red, indicating "danger" or a ghostly presence, except when it's near an electrical outlet or appliance).  I had also purchased a couple apps I read about, strangely enough, in Forbes Magazine.  The Professor had one called Ghost Radar, which I don't think he ever used.  The one on my iPhone was Ghost Hunter M2 and features a sensor sweep, EMF gauge, and, my favorite, EVP analyzer.  The latter shows a screen of letters scrolling and occasionally certain ones turn green or yellow or red and finally, presumably at the urging of a ghostly force, a word will emerge.  (As I was taking the screen shot of the EVP analyzer, a ghostly presence gave me the word "charge", which I think means I'm supposed to buy a new purse.  Just sayin' it's best not to piss off the supernatural.)  I'll give my little disclaimer that I'm a skeptical paranormal enthusiast.  I do believe there's stuff out there that I can't explain.  I don't believe everything I see and hear on the ghost chasing shows.  Similarly I don't necessarily believe my little $1.99 app is really my telephone to the spiritual word.  Then again, some strange things have happened with that app...

The tour through the reformatory is self-guided and begins in the living quarters and offices of the prison staff.  The place is full of peeling paint and crumbling plaster, but if you're able to ignore the purpose of the building and imagine it restored to full beauty, the architecture is really something to see.  From there we went into the heart of the prison, the cell blocks, and that's when things got spooky.

The ghosts were really hyper
in this spot.
First of all, the place is old and crumbling, so the metal alone has an eery appearance, kind of like underwater images of the decaying Titanic.  Then there's the vibes, real or imagined, from all the negative energy emitted by all the negative humans who inhabited the place at various times.  I strolled around with my EMF gauge, which generally stayed around the 3 to 4 level.  I wandered into a small corner just as you enter the actual row of cells and the meter spiked to between 25 and 30.  I'd saunter away, it would go down.  I'd saunter back, it would spike.  No, I wasn't standing next to a dangling electrical cord.

As I moved into some of the actual cells, I changed over to the EVP analyzer.  I've done this at home and I might get three or four words in a ten minute period.  Here, I got a new word every minute or so.  I should have made notes, but they were coming so fast and furious I'd have never kept up.  I do specifically remember that the first word was "leave," which freaked me slightly, although it could also have been the prisoner expressing his own desire.  At another point I got the word "devil" and the name "Davis."  Later I got "stake" and "cemetery" in close succession and wondered if I was standing where someone had been shanked.  Other words that popped up included "help," "peace," and "Alice."

I hope this doesn't mean
there's a flooded laundry
room in my future...

More interesting than the readings on my ghost meter and the feelings I got in the back of my neck were the orbs in the photos, obviously not noticed until we returned home and pulled them up on the computer.  I will admit the place was terribly dirty, so dust particles were not an impossibility.  However, we found this photo of The Professor particularly interesting, with the orb floating right in front of his face and the other above his head:

We also liked this one of "the alley" showing numerous orbs.  My sister converted it to a black and white negative, which shows the little circles more clearly.  Incidentally, my sister took a picture about ten minutes earlier of the same area and it showed absolutely nothing.

More information about the Mansfield Reformatory can be found on their website here.  Additional photos can be found through my Flickr account here.  And did I mention that the movie The Shawshank Redemption was filmed there?  More on that later...


* The Crytozoologist

* Things to Do in Cincinnati - Spring Grove Cemetery

1 comment:

quilt32 said...

Other than to see that pretty fireplace, I'm not sure I want to visit the reformatory.