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An Eerie First Visit To Alcatraz Island


While I have never seen anything unusual that I would connect to being supernatural, I have sensed something that I think was supernatural two times in my life - a sensation where the hair on my neck and arms stood up and an intense sense of dread came over me. The first time I felt this sensation I was touring the Alcatraz prison in San Francisco; the other occasion was at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. Both places have unusual histories and in some believe a connection to the supernatural (Alcatraz is a "portal" as some say and the Winchester House was supposed to be inhabited by spirits).

In 1988 I had gone to San Francisco with a foreign exchange student friend to show him all the sights in California. It was April - Spring Break time - and we were climbing all over the island eagerly taking pictures of the crumbling old prison and looking for places that would be interesting to photograph. We joked around, taking pictures of each other behind bars and also long shots in the hallways full of cell bars. We split up after about 30 minutes and looked in different parts on our own in our quests for places worthy of photographing.

I headed towards a hallway that I presumed led out onto the opposite side of the island from where the ferry landing was. Before I went out, I stopped by a room that was nothing notable and didn't have any furniture or fixtures that would indicate what it was when Alcatraz was a functioning prison. There was an information plaque on the wall with an old photo of the room as it looked several decades earlier that indicated it was the former barber room or shower room (I can't exactly remember now what it was called). The walls were painted with a pastel green paint and there was nothing scary about the room. I was alone in the room and suddenly I had this intense feeling as I stood in there. As I mentioned before, the hair on my neck and arms stood up, and the feeling that something in the room had suddenly changed and I sensed something was wrong there. There was nothing threatening or sad about this room that could have influenced the way I felt, but the feeling was unmistakably eerie and depressing. I think back now about how that moment has stayed with me and I always wonder what made the feeling come over me and its connection to the room's history. I now wish that I had taken a picture of that empty room just because it is the part of the island I remember so vividly.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, Cosgrove, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

zzsgranny (18 stories) (3329 posts) mod
13 years ago (2011-09-18)
I remember this story, and I came back to say that I'm indeed going to visit both San Francisco and Alcatraz...I'm officially on vacation, but we won't get to do the tour until Wednesday...I'm out of my mind with excitement! 😆 😆
shadowphil13 (22 posts)
14 years ago (2010-09-24)
Although no one has reported seeing an apparition, it is indeed haunted. YOu can hear screaming from the cell block A, banjos playing the shower room, banging noises as if the cell doors were opening and closing by themselves, and gunshots and footsteps that can be heard in the corridors. Night guards who have experienced these kind of horrors were terrified. In fact, many quitted. Also, it is rumored that cell block D-4 aka the Hole is said to hold a demonic and dangerious entity. When you go ghost hunting at night, be on your guard.
Cosgrove (1 stories) (1 posts)
14 years ago (2010-04-22)
This was in 1988, and I am not sure if they still let people wander it unsupervised as we had done back then. You could take a guided tour or move at your own pace (for less money).

The only reason I didn't take a picture of the room was because it really was such an empty room and I was more interested in tangible objects and I hadn't thought about the "what if" factor of taking a picture of the empty room. Also, I don't think I really clued into the sensation I had as possibly being paranormal; I felt so uneasy and thought it was just me, I guess.
zzsgranny (18 stories) (3329 posts) mod
14 years ago (2010-04-21)
Cosgrove: Both of those places are on my list of "places to visit before I die"!...Yea, a picture of the room may have revealed something... Did you not get one because your were too creeped out? 😊...Were you on a guided tour, or can you take a ferry to the island and just wander around?...

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