haunted Ohio State Reformatory
Solemn is the best word to describe the mood of the small crowd outside the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield.
We poised for a guided tour where to buy pandora charms near me of the imposing architectural wonder with the giant abandoned jail dark past weighing heavily on our minds. Built in 1896 as a beacon of hope to reform inmates, by the time pandora outlet it closed in 1990 it legacy was one of murder, abuse and torture.
International ghost hunters pandora necklace for charms now flock to commune with some of the former inmates and guards. Television shows such as The Scariest Places on Earth and Most Terrifying Places in America have featured this prison.
The 250,000 foot structure also holds fascination for film buffs. Hollywood movies Air Force One and Tango Cash shot scenes here but its the endearing Shawshank Redemption that draws the most fans.
The 1994 film stars Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne, a young banker sentenced to life imprisonment when he is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover, and Morgan Freeman as Red, a savvy fellow inmate.
Set in the 1940s, the movie did reasonably well at the box office, but has since soared in popularity as a home release.
The reformatory and the town of Mansfield boast 95% of the film was shot at the Ohio location. Beyond the prison, devotees are invited to take the drive it yourself Shawshank Trail which includes the oak tree where Red discovers money Andy has left for him. (When the tree was struck by lightning during our visit last fall, it garnered international media attention.)
Inside the prison our guide Ron Puff blends the Shawshank experience with the prison's actual history. He notes the harsh conditions portrayed in the movie are sadly accurate.
And it's no stretch of the imagination to believe him as we trudge through the dimly lit caged corridors past hundreds of tiny dilapidated cells. The enormous east block, the world's largest free standing steel cell block, is six tiers high.
Puff, a member of the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society, advises us to stay together to avoid getting lost in the gloom. We're pandora charms order online invited to enter the seven by nine foot cells but cautioned against shutting doors. Existing keys do not open all cells, Puff warns us.
Later when he calls for a few volunteers to be "locked in" a cell, I consent. Within moments my heart jumps as the heavy barred door clangs shut.
Photographs on this tour are allowed with some exceptions. Shots of today's prisoners exercising in the yard of an adjacent facility and viewed from the former reformatory's back windows are strictly off limits.
Our bird's eye view of this modern day scene of confinement is still a vivid memory. The men mingling in the bright sunshine wore white T shirts and dark shorts.
Eyes back inside, we follow Puff into the Shawshank warden's office, the parole room, and into the cavernous sixth floor chapel where he notes a failed attempt made by three inmates to dig through the wall.
We crowd into the massive group shower where 100 men were washed down together about once a week. Puff calls it the Vegas room, and gamely remarks "What goes on in Vegas stays in Vegas."
But quips are few as Puff describes the severe conditions including the harsh treatment doled out in solitary confinement. "You went in the hole naked for seven days," says Puff, adding the tiny space reached by a ladder was windowless. "You never knew what day it was."
At tour's end we examine records and photos of inmates, putting faces to the stories we won't soon forget.
Ohio State Reformatory Tours
Various tours of the 125 year old former prison cater to thrill seekers, serious ghost hunters, history buffs and movie fans on site in Mansfield, Ohio, 90 minutes southwest of Cleveland.
Daytime self guided and escorted tours resume May to September 2013. Admission ranges from $7 to $14.
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