Posted on August 8, 2013
Today’s post is a photo essay on one of Jackson’s claims to fame . . . its prison. Specifically, the pictures are of the old prison; replaced in 1934 in a different location by the current prison.
Built in 1837, the old prison covers about 20 acres with stone and granite walls twenty-five feet high. The early cells were 7 feet long, 3½ feet wide and 6½ feet high. The later blocks were “expanded” to 9 feet long 5½ feet wide and 7 feet tall.
In the prison’s early days businessmen could pay the prison as little as 34 cents a day for cheap labor. The inmates did not get any of the money. If needed, the prison even provided space for the industry inside the prison walls. This continued up to the 20th century,
The need to move products to market helped make Jackson an early railroad center. By 1871, at least six railroads radiated from town. A spur directly linked the prison complex with the outside world. At its maximum capacity Michigan’s first state prison was big enough to hold one-third the early population of Jackson.
What was once the largest walled prison closed in 1934, although one expert in the paranormal says at least 50 distinct ghosts or other entities still roam the area. I wasn’t able to catch any of these in my pictures. Still there remains a stark eeriness, and occasional beauty, to the old prison.