Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spirits in Schuylkill County Prison

The county prison in Schuylkill county rests majestically on top of the hill overlooking the city of Pottsville. The fortress bears the resemblance of a medievel castle. A large brick tower looms in the front keeping watch of all that's going on below. The prison began it's operations in 1851, in less than 5 years the prison had doubled in size. Behind the lovely brick castle facade hinds a dark and gloomy past. The county prison was a popular place for numerous hangings. The first execution in the current prison took place in 1875. Two short years later the county would host it's most famous hanging. A 6 man gallow was constructed to hang Mollie Maguires convicted of murder. Over the years many more hangings and executions took place on the property, but none were as famed as the nationally known Mollie Maguires.

Numerous prisoners who have had the unfortunate chance of visiting the prison claim the place is full of spirits. Unexplained screams in the night go reported, ghostly spirits have been spotted by former guards as well as inmates. A number of employees on the graveyard shift have often heard chains rattling, particularly near the midnight hour. Are their ghostly spirits roaming around the dark halls of this local legend, or are imaginations just running a little higher when confinement is felt? Maybe they'll let me spend a night there, but do I have to commit a crime!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Molly Maguire Park Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania

In the middle of the 18th century a million Irish immigrants rushed to the United States to avoid the great potato famine that was taking place at home. Thousands of them ended up in the coal mountains of Pennsylvania. The rural areas couldn't provide much wealth for a family unless they were willing to go deep into the harsh elements of anthracite coal mining. For many this was their only option, and for this they suffered dearly.
Numerous Irish immigrants banded together and attempted to fight the large corporations. This brotherhood of employees became known as Molly Maguires. Though they were more prevalent in their homeland of Ireland, the Mollies held quite a presence in the coal regions of Pennsylvania. They were accused of numerous crimes against coal leaders. Charges ranged from burglary, treason, and even murder. To this day there is a still a disagreement about whether the Mollies were violent criminals or just fed up employees fighting back for their rights. Several of the Molly Maguires were hung throughout several counties in the state including Schuykill county. In the small borough of Mahanoy City a park has been dedicated to the lost Molly Maguires, the somber hooded statue that stands before you can't help but make you have some sort of feeling about these historical men.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"Irish" Traffic Signal Syracuse, New York

There's a small Irish neighborhood in Syracuse, New York with a traffic light unlike any other in the country. At the corner of Tompkins street and Milton avenue, perched high above the streets, the upside down Irish traffic light is situated. The light has been in the famed Tipperary Hill neighborhood since 1925.

Originally the light was an ordinary traffic signal, this made the locals of the area quite upset. They couldn't believe anyone would dare place British red, above Irish green.
The incensed neighboring youth began to shoot out the red lights by throwing stones at it. The city had to replace several lights, before finally agreeing to place the green light on top. The change however was short lived. Quickly thereafter the state of New York got involved and had the traffic light reversed back to the normal look. Almost immediately after the change the little stone throwers were back at it. Local newspapers made a tale about it being the work of leprechauns, given the incredible marksmanship that would be required to pelt out a traffic light with a rock.

Eventually the tiny Irish neighborhood won the right to have the green light placed on top. After several meetings with politicians and commissioners they were able to break through the red tape. Permission was granted to leave the green light on top, and a monument was even placed across the street commemorating the young stonethrowers.
To this day the light in Tipp Hill flashes the green on top and the red on the bottom, making it one of the most unique traffic lights in the World.