The Dark Cell Poltergeist
In Arizona, United States
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This hunt will keep you on the outside of the Yuma Territorial Prison. The prison is operated by the Arizona State Parks and to visit the inside, you will have to pay a small fee. If you have the time, it is worth the admission.
On July 1, 1876, the first 7 inmates entered the Territorial Prison at Yuma, also known as "Hell Hole" and "Devil's Island", and were locked into the new cells they had built themselves. They were chained to the stone floors or walls in the 8x10 foot dark cells while the outside temperatures would rise to over 110ºF in the summer. A total of 3,069 prisoners, including 29 women, lived within these walls during the prison's 33 years of operation. The only punishments were the "dark cell" for inmates who broke prison regulations (they were chained to the stone floor), and the "ball and chain" for those who tried to escape. Of the many prisoners who attempted escape, 26 were successful (only two were from within the prison confines) and 8 died from gunshot wounds.
Across from the prison is the old prison cemetery, where the prisoners were buried. During this time, 111 prisoners died while serving their sentences, 46 from Tuberculosis (Consumption), which was passing through the territory and tends to circulate quickly in the densely packed quarters of the prison cell blocks. A total of 104 persons, all prisoners, were buried at the cemetery. Bodies of the other 7 prisoners were claimed by families. There was a 112th death, that of Pete Devaux, a convict on his way to Yuma, tried to escape by jumping off the train, but hit his head on a rock on the way down, and died. Only one female died in prison, Pearl Eiker. Burials were simple and quick. A shallow grave was dug where a wooden casket containing the body was lowered, covered with the caliche soil and then overlaid with rocks, but even so, the stories say that some of them never left this place, even in death.
Author Antonio Garcez, who wrote an article on the prison for Ghosts of the Prairie and featured it in his book on Arizona ghost stories, collected many stories of strange incidents and hauntings. The stories often spoke of the “dark cell”, the place of punishment for prisoners unable to follow the rules.
Linda Offeney, a ranger at the prison site, told Garcez about an incident when she sensed a presence in the cell that frightened her. She also told him of a photo that she had in her files that was taken of a female tourist in the 1930’s. While the woman in the photo does not appear out of the ordinary, there is a clear image of a ghostly man behind her and just inside the opening of a cell. This cell was where insane prisoners were housed before being moved to other facilities.
She also told about a writer from the magazine Arizona Highways who came and wanted to do a story about the prison. The writer stated that she wanted to spend two days and nights in the “dark cell”, chained by the foot and with nothing but bread and water to eat and drink. The staff provided her with these things and then placed a heavy blanket over the cell door to keep out all of the sunlight, just as it would have been when the prison was in operation. The writer didn’t last for very long! Within hours, she was calling for help, claiming that “someone” else was in the cell with her! While no records ever mention that a prisoner died while incarcerated in the “dark cell”, the prison reports do mention that at least two prisoners did leave the cell... only to be transferred immediately to an insane asylum in Phoenix. Could the presence be one of these prisoners, still lingering behind?
There are two predominate places within the prison that the spirits were active: the dark cell and the visitors` museum. The dark cell hosts a ghost that likes to pinch: attracted to children and the color red. The offices and museum have also seen their share of strange happenings. There are supposedly two spirits in the visitors` museum: a woman who sings quite early in the morning and a poltergeist that likes to play with the money: he's attracted to dimes. Things are often moved about, lights turn on and off and on one occasion, coins from the cash register in the gift shop literally flew into the air and landed back in the drawer!
Some believe that the spirits of prisoners past remain here, perhaps trapped within the walls of the prison itself. For some men, whether it was a humane facility or not, being chained up and jailed was a fate worse than death. Are they now reliving it for all eternity?
Now for the hunt. The above coordinates are for the parking area. From there you will walk to the Prison Cemetery and located the placard listing the names of the bodies buried there.
Under the left hand column, count down to the 31st name. Counting from the left, write down the persons 1st, 3rd & 8th letter of their name. Find the numerical placement of these letters in the alphabet (A=1; B=2; C=3 ...) and substitute them for the numbers missing for the Latitude N32 43.xxx
Again under the left hand column, count down to the 33rd name and counting from the left, write down the persons 1st & 5th letter of their name. Find the numerical placement of these letters in the alphabet and substitute them for the numbers missing for the Longitude W114 3x.x00
These new coordinates will bring you outside the dreaded "Dark Cell" and 25 feet from its core. Now is the time to be afraid ... be very afraid ... for you are within the realm of the Poltergeist.
From here, you must travel 43 feet at a bearing of 230 degrees to find the cache. But beware, the Poltergeist has been known to place his own cache and they can be dangerous.
(No hints available.)
- Dark Cell Ghost?Larry, so thats why you sleep all day and roam all night!
- The Dark Cell PoltergeistRobert!!! Is that you?
Last Updated: on 3/24/2014 12:08:25 PM Pacific Daylight Time (7:08 PM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum