Delaware’s Death Pen

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Delaware’s Death Pen

Death Pen

Fort Delaware is better known as “The Death Pen.”  The site is the home of a haunted prison, located on Pea Patch Island in Delaware.  Pea Patch Island is a small island located on the Delaware River.  The fort is a pentagonal, military style structure.  While it has undergone many restorations over the years, many of the original features still exist, allowing visitors a unique opportunity to explore the grounds and old prison.

(images:thoog/flickr)

(images:thoog/flickr)

During the Civil War, Fort Delaware’s prison was a hot spot for Confederate prisoners.  The majority of the prisoners were taken as a result of the infamous Battle of Gettysburg.  An estimated 33,000 prisoners were estimated to have been crammed in the prison during the early United States conflicts.  Fort Delaware was also used in the first and second World Wars as a mechanism for defense on the coast.

In 1951, Fort Delaware and its surrounding land were named as a state park and the public were finally allowed access.  People are able to explore the giant structure and try to imagine what life was like there.  One of the most interesting parts of the tour is the mysterious dungeon.  Many people are eager to explore every dark nook and cranny, imagining the variety of events that took place there.

Unfortunately, while tourists are common frequenters of Fort Delaware’s basement, so are the some of the strangest occurrences reported at the fort.  Many account the extreme amounts of misery and torture that occurred at Fort Delaware for the paranormal activity that seems to haunt the grounds.  Visitors and employees have commonly reported hearing strange or frightening sounds coming from the basement.  Often, there are reports of chains rattling, and the sounds of moaning and screams.

(images:dave_cameron/flickr)

(images:dave_cameron/flickr)

Throughout the Death Pen, people report having apparitions appearing in photos, even though nothing was seen at the time of shooting.  Often, it is a Confederate solider who appears in his uniform and stands in the archway to the fort.  The soldier shares the area with the apparitions of pirates who were likely caught and housed in the early days of Fort Delaware.  There is also a child who can commonly be heard laughing and a woman who walks the grounds weeping.

A young child fell down the stairs leading to the fort in its early years at the entrance.  The area is visibly scarred as the place where the child’s body was found shows a stone that is remarkably darker than the other stones.  Nearby, hands are seen rising from the river, terrorizing unsuspecting visitors.  Many speculate that they are the ghostly hands of prisoners who attempted escape and drowned in the river.

Some say the strange events are due to the estimated 3000 deaths that happened at Fort Delaware.  Visitors are yanked from behind and told to leave by unseen people, faces are seeing peering from behind the cannon walls, footsteps from invisible walkers are heard, and screams or pleas are not uncommon.  There are invisible threats and swearing from an unidentified source and melodies from a harmonica and a fife.  Despite the source of the events, one thing is for sure, there seems to be a worse sentence than a life sentence when it comes to Fort Delaware.

 

 

Megan Borchert
Megan Borchert
Lover of all things unusual, Megan is a staff attorney for the state of South Dakota. When she's not stuffed in an office writing case synopses, you can find her at home with her army of Schnauzers, snuggled up with some strong wine and a good book.

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