A Brief History: Burlington County Prison is located at 128 High Street in Mt. Holly, New Jersey. Built in 1810, it operated from 1811 to 1965 and at the time of it’s closing was the oldest prison in the United States. Renowned for its design at the time, it was U shaped, had individual cells, was well ventilated, and had fireproof construction. Some cells were larger in order to hold multiple prisoners and there was a cell designated for the most dangerous prisoners located on the top floor, complete with wall mounted shackles. This area was known as “The Dungeon.” There was also a women’s wing to the prison and gender discrimination was a fairly well known practice in Burlington. There was only one known escape from the prison. In 1933, Eddie Adamsky, a well known safe robber, escaped by sawing through the bars of his window and lowering himself to the ground 20 feet below with his bed sheets and climbing over the prison yard wall. He was eventually caught in New York City and returned to Burlington. The most famous person to spend time here was Albert DeSalvo aka The Boston Strangler, who was arrested on lewd and indecent exposure charges years before his more notorious crimes were committed. The prison is also the place where multiple criminals spent their final days before being hanged from a gallows erected in the prison yard. While not confirmed, as many as 9 hangings are reported to have been carried out inside these walls. After it’s closure in 1965, it opened as a museum in 1966 and is still open to the public today. Most of the building has changed very little since it was still in operation.
Haunted History: With such a long history of villainy, pain, torture, and death it should come as no surprise that there is no shortage of claims of paranormal activity as well. The earliest claim is from 1833. After a prisoner by the name of Joel Clough was executed and buried on the grounds, prison guards and inmates reportedly heard unexplained moaning and chains rattling and smelled cigarette smoke wafting from “The Dungeon” where Clough had spent his final days. Other claims over the years include strange sounds, disembodied voices, and apparitions throughout the building. While renovations were being done on the building, workers reported tools disappearing and later being found in locked cells. Many different paranormal groups have investigated the site over the years and most have captured some sort of evidence. There is a reason why Burlington County Prison is considered by many to be New Jersey’s most haunted location.