Paranormal Activity at Old Idaho Penitentiary

Known as the first prison built in the state of Idaho; the penitentiary located east of Boise had housed over 13,000 inmates which also included 215 women. Like with most prisons, Old Idaho Penitentiary had several inmates who died over the years which can lead to several unexplained and possibly paranormal events.

Built in 1870, it originally began as one building, but was expanded to include 15 with the help of those who were housed at the prison used quarry that was located within the ridges that surround the city. The prison closed down after a century of housing inmates over riots that were caused by the conditions of the penitentiary.

Since the demise of the prison, Old Idaho has become a historic building which became official right after it was shut down by the State of Idaho when the old penitentiary was listed by the National Historic Society. Today, Old Idaho houses a museum, which is opened all year round. Although there are no documented reports of any haunting’s, many believe that because Old Idaho Penitentiary housed some of the most ruthless criminals, that there are going to be some haunting’s.

One story was about a prisoner named Raymond Snowden, who was known as the Idaho Jack Ripper, had brutally murdered a woman and was sentenced to die by hanging. Stories have it that he hung for 15 minutes in the gallows inside of the prison in 1957. They say he haunts the former prison and a cigar store in downtown Boise called Hanafin’s.

Others have reported strange noises, rattling of the walls, wails, and apparitions throughout the years. Visitors have also stated that they have been touched or pushed by someone within the prison walls. Some people have had the feeling of being watched and touched by something that wasn’t there. Others have reported seeing figures tending to the beautiful rose gardens within the prison property.

These stories caught the attention of Nick Groff, Aaron Goodwin, and Zak Bagans of the Travel Channel series Ghost Adventures who decided to visit the 139 year old prison to see these haunting’s for themselves. They spent a night at the former prison in building 5. Did they discover the folklore to be true or is it just that folklore?

The boys at Ghost Adventures did discovered some interesting activities within the former prisons walls. This lead them to believe that yes, there was some paranormal activities which occur at the Old Idaho Penitentiary. While spending time inside the prison showers, Aaron felt a presence there and in Building 5 they were able to bring what they believed to be Raymond Snowden out by holding a noose. He presumably appeared by grabbing Zak’s arm. There was even camera footage of a hooded shadow using an experimental piece of equipment, which was also believed to be Ray himself.

Some ghosts never leave the place of their death while some are able to move on to the other side. At the Old Idaho Penitentiary, some things were meant to stay behind those walls forever. If you do not see or hear the ghosts that roam Old Idaho Penitentiary on your visit, you are guaranteed to feel the energy that has lingered behind.


  • Nosila

    I visited the Old Idaho Pen the Thursday before Thanksgiving. When walking into the max security building the temperature dropped to freezing! It was very active that day. I walked around the lower level and then walked upstairs into the gallows viewing room. I could hear footsteps but there was no one else there when I looked. I walked around to where the death row inmates were housed on death row and I placed my hand on the entry to the gallows door but it was locked. At that point there was an urgency to depart from that area and I was accompanied by shadow figures. It was like nothing I had ever seen. This by far was the most active paranormal activity I have witnessed. As I was leaving the yard I could smell cigar smoke but again no one was there. Very active. Very interesting. Highly recommended.

  • Dakota Frandsen

    I had my first paranormal experience at the Idaho State Penn. I actually saw a shadow apparition manifest itself on the noose. It wouldn’t be in till a couple years later when Ghost Adventures caught the image of what they believed to be Raymond Snowden that I would get enough courage to start my own paranormal team. I have been eager to get a chance to investigate there ever since.

  • jennifer

    It’s true, Ghost Adventures did an amazing job at showing us what is real and what isn’t. I had a flashback of what happened as ray struggled to the death… was disturbing but real enough for me to leave the building….I was touched on the face prior to that flashback and left with a massive headache and was sick for a few days. I am fine now. That was on Friday the 13th when they had events going on. I believe in the paranormal.

  • billy

    what about picacho arizona by south picacho highway? The white houses on the corner fast track road, green reservoir road..The white houses were a place where migrant workers stayed at…that was not documented at all, but many have felt and seen aparitions there at the row of white houses ..i saw a ghost come out of the wall there in one of the houses when i went to investigate at 2 30am..the ghost was an older male He stared at me with black eyes, and mumbled words i could not understand. children laughing in another room, but the houses were abandoned…I heard dishes being thrown and broken in the kitchen..but no one lived there at that time, the houses were empty…I was so frightened, i ran home with chills up in my spine. I was told also that several others have witnessed ghosts coming thru the walls, one man named pete mendez an indian, and finally around 2005 the state tore down the white houses because there was too much paranormal activity there. A nearby house had a lady living there, who said to me the houses were torn down becuz the water pumps were always being messed with…and reports of ghosts…the air was so thick with death there, it was unbelievable. WHY these houses were not documented? It is a place of true hauntings.

  • Kellsie

    I went there. Nothing really strange happened, as it was bright out. Though I did feel a lot of pity and sadness there. And the solitary confinement creeped me out completely.

  • cerinna white

    I had went to the Botanical Garden for New years eve with a friend, they had the Christmas lights. It was around 8:30, we were taking many pictures. We were at the main tree with a beautiful black background. We wanted a picture with the tree and two women offered to take the photo, we posed the picture was taken. The women looked at the picture that was just snapped and said “What is that!” pointing behind us. We turned to look and it was just the black sky that had been there from the time we started the walk, they handed us back the camera, we looked at the picture and there was like a full moon over our shoulder above the pen. My friend said it was an Orb, I had no clue what a Orb was, I am a non believer of any spirit stuff. I do know I looked for the moon and it was the opposite direction and was a half moon. When I put the picture up on the PC from the camera(with the help of my daughter) we both went WOW, she described it as looking like an (SP?) aneba , it was amazing!
    Any way I will print the photos and have them for a story for a long time. I have been to the old pen many times and never had any strange things. I am somewhat perplexed at this. I have always said I will not believe until I see. Maybe this was it.

  • notfeelingright

    Went there for the frightened felons event last night and I felt really weird at the hanging room and felt worse when I went downstairs at the drop off. I felt heavy and a little nauseous. I decided to take a photo of the room and I saw in my camera a red light moving in different directions, I looked at the spot where the light was and I didn’t see anything. I looked at my camera, and again I saw the same , moving light, so I snapped a photo and I caught it with a little tail. I got so creeped out so I left the room in a hurry. I adked my companions if they saw a moving red light (orb) and they said no. I am still creeped out ’til now. I do not know what it was but I am pretty sure I didn’t like what I felt at that moment.

  • Peter

    This is not haunted, I have visit this amazing piece of history there was nothing haunted. I’m doing a school project about this and my evidence has lead me to that its not real There was nothing scary did feel a little sad but I didn’t know it was haunted. You guys were probably paranoid about the history about it be haunted or your just lying .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *