Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Jim Thorpe Jail and the Mysterious Hand Print

If you find yourself on a road trip through Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania go directly to jail. It will be an experience you won't regret or forget. The old Carbon County prison is a stately castle of solitude, full of history and mysteries.

Constructed in 1871 the fortress housed 27 cells and housing for the warden. Originally the prison housed both men and women, but on separate floors. But those who chose to not follow order would face solitary confinement in the basement. The reformatory was designed to hold the lawbreakers of society. More specifically the Molley Maguires, a group of men who fought for better working conditions within the coal mining industry that dominated the area. Unfortunately the mining companies in these times controlled every aspect of their workers lives. They provided them with a general store and housing, both of which the company would profit from. Many of these men would eventually be accused of various crimes throughout northeastern Pennsylvania. Charges would often range from arson, burglary, theft, to even murder. The corporations also controlled the detective agency which investigated the men. The police force who would arrest and detain the men, as well as the prosecuting attorneys who would have no problems building a case. The accused never stood a chance.

On June 21, 1877 a day referred to as "The Day of the Rope" four men were simultaneously hung from the gallows that were placed inside the prison. Within the next 18 months three more Molley Maguires would be hung within these walls. One of these men believed to be Alexander Campbell pleaded his innocence until his death. While being escorted out of his cell he slapped his hand onto the off-white wall proclaiming "this hand print will remain as proof of my innocence." Now many men in prison have declared their innocence since the beginning of incarceration. But for over 100 years now past wardens have cleaned, painted, and plastered over this hand print. Yet continuously in cell 17 you can see the mark of a man who demonstrated his innocence over 100 years ago.

You may also enjoy the Molley Maguire park, and this prison.
Prison is located 128 W. Broadway Jim Thorpe, Pa.

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