Ghostly tales haunt historic Folsom Prison

It seems like every old prison is haunted. Every single one of them. I bet they’re all in a union or something. Though prisons would be ideal sites for hauntings – there is a theory that an actual haunting occurs in places where there was a lot of pain, suffering, or just very strong emotions. I’m sure prisons would have housed many people who experienced all of these and more. Folsom State Prison in California is one of those supposedly haunted prisons.

Is Folsom Prison haunted?Ghosts may haunt catwalks and corridors of Folsom State Prison.

At least according to James Brown, operations manager for the prison’s museum. Brown is also a retired corrections officer, having worked many years at the prison, and author of “Images of America: Folsom Prison.”

“I’ve heard stories about people seeing a ghost walking around the front gate,” Brown explains. According to accounts, the Folsom Phantom is the spirit of a prison guard killed during a 1927 prison right. Brown heard the story and it’s noted in Dennis William Hauck’s book, “Haunted Places: The National Registry,” a listing of haunted houses, UFO sightings and unusual creature sightings across the United States.

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page Web site, two Folsom prison guards died during a November 1927 riot. On Thanksgiving Day, Ray Singleton was stabbed as he guarded prisoners leaving the prison library after a movie. The riot broke out, lasting two days. Police and local militia put down the riot, in which three prisoners died.

Singleton wasn’t the only guard who died during the Thanksgiving riot. Prison guard Charles Gillies had a fatal heart attack as he manned his post at the prison’s front gate.

And as a bonus fun fact: this is the prison where Johnny Cash performed, eventually releasing a live album from his performance. His song written about the prison more than 10 years before he visited, Folsom Prison Blues, contains the famous line “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.” Maybe a bit of Johnny Cash is still in the prison as well?

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