The first weekend of March, 22 men and women walked through buildings filled with nearly two centuries of history.
These individuals took part in this year’s first public tour of the Missouri State Penitentiary. Since then, more than 3,650 visitors have toured the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City; slightly more than 3,000 toured the prison in 2009.
Interested individuals have traveled from all over the country to tour this historic prison. The tour has attracted visitors from at least 22 different states including South Carolina, Florida, California and Texas.
Besides these individuals who have come to Jefferson City to take the tour, more than 100 bus tour groups from throughout the Midwest have booked tours through the Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The Bureau has received countless positive comments via e-mail, phone, mail and face-to-face interaction.
Brenda Jones said, “Prison Tours – WOW. My husband and I treated ourselves and another couple from Illinois to the MSP Tour last Saturday. We were all truly impressed and awed by this rare opportunity to see up close inside this historical treasure.
“Mark Schreiber is almost as much a treasure as the buildings are. His knowledge and ability to fit together the historical stories and his personal experience makes the tour so much more interesting. This is truly our town’s most unique feature and deserves more attention than what it gets (especially financial attention).”
Chuck Brewer from Illinois said, “Our family (seven adults and kids) took the two-hour tour of the prison Sunday, April 18. It was excellent, informative and extremely interesting. I look forward to returning and seeing what is promised with even more in-depth tours going into greater detail and seeing much more of the prison. This history going back to Civil War times is history that should not be forgotten, but should be available for more people to see.”
Additional comments from those who have toured the MSP can be found on YouTube (www.YouTube.com/MissouriPenTours).
The tours showcase cells dating back to 1836, when the MSP was built, including those of famous inmates such as heavyweight champion Sonny Liston who learned to box during his time in the big house, “Pretty Boy” Floyd and James Earl Ray. The tour also allows guests to enter into the gas chamber where 40 executions took place.
Public tours run until the beginning of November. Tickets are $12 per person and must be reserved in advance. To purchase tickets to the Missouri State Penitentiary tour call (866) 998-6998 or go to www.MissouriPenTours.com
Written by Sarah Stroesser, communications manager for the Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau.