|Building 64 - Military Housing then Prison Residences|
The first sight we saw after embarking the cruise ship was Building 64, which had been used as Residential Apartments. It is grand, and one cannot miss the imposing view with it's large sign.
|Building 64 - Welcome Sign|
Looking up I began to feel small, soon understanding that this place is bigger than once thought. A feeling of fear swept in and soon we found ourselves wondering what this place had in store for us. We moved on, past the crowds listening to the Parks Rangers give their welcome speech. Lesli and I had decided we'd either walk ahead of the crowd, or wait until everyone had finished touring each building. We wanted to feel the effects of this place without disturbance.. which is difficult to do.
|Sign at the Power House|
|Prison Guard shadow man or not|
On our way up, we came across the Morgue, built in 1910 by the US Military. It covered an entrance to a tunnel which had been used by soldiers in the 1870s to cross to the opposite side of the island. It is not accessible, but one can look in. It was small, with an examination table, some machinery, pipes and a grated skylight. It's purpose was to hold bodies that had missed the last boat to the mainland and has been documented to have only been used once.
Next we switched back southward ascending towards the Main Cell House, and there it was. Big, imposing, and exuding dark energy. I looked up to see the structure appearing weathered from the salty air, and looming as if a home of darkness. Needless to say Lesli and I were excited we had finally reached the top of the Rock and about to enter a world we did not know or understand.
Lesli and I passed the crowd waiting and walked up the stairs. The door at the top opened up to B and C Blocks, and the moment I crossed its threshold, I felt a whirl of emotions hit me. It was as if every ghostly spirit of past inmates and officers had rushed up screaming and pushing themselves upon me. I had to stop for a moment to understand this feeling was of the place and people who had lived and worked here those many years ago. It took my breath away. I calmly stated "I am here, please allow me time to explore", and with that the feeling dissipated. Had I been bombarded with spirit energy? I believe so.
|Cells on Broadway in B Block|
Next we passed through a library, which had shelves that were empty of books; however, a sign read: "Because they were physically confined, most prisoners sought mental escape through books. Literate convicts read 75-100 books a year. The 15,000 volumes in the library include photography, philosophy and educational material. Books with sexual, violent or criminal references were not allowed." A quote read: "These men read more serious literature then does the ordinary person in the community. Philosophers such as Kant, Schopenhauer, Hegel, etc. are especially popular..." - Federal Bureau of Prisons booklet, 1960.
Once through the library we entered the D Block cells, which were considered the Isolation Cells, or "Treatment Unit" as a sign read.
|D Block Isolation Cell Sign|
|From Recreation Yard, looking back at Main Cell House|
|Recreation Yard & steps against the Main Cell House. A view only seen from the top.|
|Lesli (left) & Kati (right) with the top floors behind us.|
|The Dining Hall|
|The Guards room inside the Kitchen|
Another sign indicated that the inmates were served three meals a day, and the men thought the food was the best served in the Federal Prison System, indicating there was plenty of it. It also advised that tear gas canisters were mounted in the ceiling in case of trouble, but they were never used.
With this, it was time to take a break, so we wandered back down the main road to the Dock. There we sat at picnic tables and enjoyed our packed lunch, talked about what we had felt, and what we would do next. We had just enough time to explore the Administration area, Warden's Office and go back to D Block for another visit. By then, most of the tourists would be leaving the Cell House to make their way back to the boat. This would leave us with an empty Cell House, or so we hoped.
On our way back up, we decided to pass by the area in which we had entered the Cell House previously, and visit the Lighthouse facing the city. Across from the prison we saw gardens filled with vegetables and more in an area they once called "Officers' Row". This was once home to the military elite, three cottages built in 1880 for the commanding officers stood here. After they were demolished in 1941, residents and inmates created gardens in the cottage foundations. It was really rather beautiful!
|The present lighthouse standing 84 feet tall|
The Administration entrance is directly behind the lighthouse, and wandering in, after taking in the amazing views of the city, we found several offices and waiting rooms. There was the accounting area, officers' lounge, warden's secretary, associate warden's office and so on. Of course there was also a vault, and behind this area was the Visitation area which comprised of small windows and chairs. The main entrance into the cell house was next door, and opened up to the B Block. I was surprised the visiting area did not have little telephones attached to hear both parties speaking.
|Visitation Area with B Block on the other side|
Once back through the threshold of the main entrance, we walked silently and found that no one was around. Most of the tourists had just left the area. Finally we were in the Cell House alone, or nearly, with a few stragglers waiting for that same opportunity. This presented a new feeling, an eerie one, and my feet were once again buzzing. I felt as if I could hear men whispering to me but I could not make out what it was they were saying. I had to snap a photograph of "Broadway" directly in front of us.
|Broadway in B Block.|
|D Block Cells - Isolation & "the Hole"|
|Looking into Cell #14 - D Block. Two doors creating darkness|
Finally it was time to leave the area and head back down to the Docks where our boat was about to arrive. It took 15 minutes to make our way back, at a brisk pace, wandering past all the areas we had explored, thinking about how truly amazing this trip had been and the new feelings we discovered coming from within. The sun was slowly beginning to drop, and although Lesli and I wanted to stay, after 5 1/2 hours we truly needed a break. There was one evening tour booked that day, but we are sure to come back to visit the Rock during the evening hours and hopefully discover more feelings and perhaps even see something unexplained. For now, this was something I can check off on my "wish list". I, sorry, We had experienced the most famous prison in the United States of America, and stood in the darkest of cells in "the Hole". WOW!
|Alcatraz and Golden Gate Bridge (left)|
Note: We've posted an EVP caught in Cell #14 and some more photos to our Website.
A great website for information about Alcatraz: Alcatraz History
The tour we took: Alcatraz Cruises
Stay safe always! Talk soon,