4. Old Idaho State Penitentiary, Boise, Idaho
2445 Old Penitentiary Rd, Boise, ID 83712
Old Idaho State Penitentiary first opened in the 1870s and was closed in 1973. It began as a one-cell house before growing into a large complex of buildings surrounded by a sandstone wall. When it was open, it housed over 13,000 criminals, some of them the most dangerous in Idaho.
They were forced to mine the rock quarries nearby to build the walls of their prison. The conditions were brutal, with the surrounding sandstone keeping in the summer heat and creating bitter cold conditions in the winter. Diseases spread easily because of the lack of proper plumbing and the poor ventilation system. There were riots, fires, and deaths before it was abandoned. 110 people died within its walls from illness, old age, executions, and murder.
The gallows were originally set up in the Rose Garden, and some spirits seem to have remained here. There is a male spirit dressed in gardening clothes, seen walking amongst the garden. People have also felt moving cold spots when it is warm outside with no wind.
It now operates as a museum, and reports of the supernatural are common. People have reported feelings of dread, anxiety, sadness, being touched, hearing whispers, and seeing flickering lights. 5 House, where murderer Raymond Allen Snowden was executed, is the most active spot and people speculate that his ghost remains. Douglas Van Vlack, who killed himself, shows his presence in 5 as well by killing batteries and causing a green light.
Visiting Old Idaho State Penitentiary
You can visit the penitentiary 7 days a week, from 12 pm – 5 pm with the last entry at 4 pm. Tickets are priced at $6 for adults (13+), $3 for youths (6-12), and seniors (60+) for $4.
For an additional $2 fee per person, you can book a guided tour, though you need to do this on-site at the front desk as it’s availability-dependent.
The prison is closed Monday, October 11, Oct 27-30, Nov 25, Dec 25, and Jan 1.
You can book tickets and see what’s on at the Old Pen on the official government website.