Recently I was given unprecedented access to the Roseville Prison. The prison is now privately owned and is closed off to the public, photographers, documenters, urban explorers, journalists or anyone else who wants to see this historical and supposedly haunted location up close.
Stories of people being chased away, arrested or shot at are the norm with a location such as this, but in the case of Roseville prison… The stories are true.
Facing the prison, just to the right outside the tall 15ft or higher chain link walls topped with barbed wire, sit several small brick homes that were a part of the prison when it was in operation. Two of these structures are still standing, and one of these two is now the home of the owner of
Roseville’s legendary prison. Only moments after arriving we were greeted with a shotgun. After a brief encounter, and this truly is unprecedented, I found myself being given a tour by the gentleman’s granddaughter. I was now inside the large chain link walls, surrounded by the remaining guard towers and allowed to explore the prison as I saw fit.
Among the legends, the prison is supposedly haunted. It’s said you can hear things being moved around, doors closing, gates slamming shut and moaning or screaming, in addition to several ghosts or specters, including one of a woman.
Although a fair amount of the prison has been looted, removed or sold off, much of it also remains intact and the structure itself is in surprisingly stable condition. Cells can be found on the lower levels, and on the upper
levels one can see where the inmates once were put to work. The guard towers are mostly surrounded and hidden by the encroaching woods, except for one across the street which I was told I was welcome to explore ( I was unable to do so, and it’s not safe). I was allowed to wander freely, told to just watch my step given that these was debris strewn about. Loose rocks, plaster, in one case a cell door.
Graffiti is present from when the prison was not as secure as it is today, and strangely the owner was using part of the prison for storage so large plastic bins and even a couch were present in one of the wings.
I had no haunting experience myself, although the granddaughter assured me that she felt it was indeed haunted, proclaiming she was terrified at night and she had had campout with friends in the prison where they would hear doors slammed, shouting and screams during the night, even though they were the only ones in the prison. She shared how they’d heard the cells doors that were no longer there scrapping along the dusty concrete floors, and that they’d even felt as though they were being watched. She shared the story of a young woman who leapt to her death from the roof of the tallest prison building and how her ghost could be seen or heard often at night reenacting this event.
Inside the about 20 ft walls built directly into the surrounding hill, the exercise yard can be found, overgrown and left to the wild. A small baseball diamond and scoreboard can be seen from the prison windows looking out into the yard.
Built in 1926, the prison was able to hold roughly 300 inmates. Operation was discontinued in 1966. At the moment you may not be able to see the prison beyond the road yourself, but this could soon change. The current owners plan to rebuild, restore and recreate the prison close to what it once was and open it to the public as a haunted house during season and give haunted tours in the off season. FP
Disclaimer: I do not encourage anyone to visit this location, nor do I suggest you attempt entry. It is posted no trespassing and is not a public location. I was allowed access, and given a tour, this is not common practice and will not be your experience should you chose to visit the prison. The buildings can be seen from the road, and you will be confronted. Visitors are NOT welcome at this location.
Shooting notes: I used the Leica D-Lux for these images, both with and without the included flash unit. The small flash worked quite well, with a increased range in the dark prison halls over the normal 4-6 ft range. I was however pushing the limits of the usable ISO range; 400-3200 ISO. The clarity, sharpness, and contrast produced by the type 109’s lens and sensor was excellent. Read my full review on 35MMC HERE.