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  • Writer's pictureNatalija Ugrina

Route 66 Illinois: the Old Joliet Prison

Hey there, fellow adventurers and ghost hunters! Recognize this prison from the big screen or your favorite TV show? Imagine hitting the road, embarking on the quintessential American journey along the legendary Route 66, in search of all the quirks, landmarks, and hidden gems that this iconic highway has tucked away. My travels did just that, leading me straight to an unexpected and utterly fascinating stop – the Old Joliet Prison. Brace yourselves; this detour is loaded with tales of history, cinema, and spine-tingling mysteries.


the Old Joliet Prison route 66

A Historic Pathway: Joliet and Route 66

The Old Joliet Prison, standing as a monumental beacon along Route 66, embodies the spirit of American history, pop culture, and the supernatural. Established in 1858, it's not just a relic of the past but a cornerstone that played a pivotal role in reshaping the United States penal system. Its proximity to the "Mother Road" has turned it into a must-visit landmark for travelers.


route 66 map

A Deep Dive into History

Opened in 1858 to alleviate overcrowding at the Illinois State Penitentiary in Alton, the Joliet Correctional Center was originally constructed with limestone quarried by prison labor. It quickly became a vital part of the Illinois Department of Corrections, housing thousands of inmates over nearly a century-and-a-half of operation. In its early years, Joliet was notorious for its harsh conditions. Yet, it also played a crucial role in the evolution of the American correctional system, reflecting broader social and political shifts in the United States. Through riots, escapes, and the shifting sands of criminal justice, Joliet Correctional Center has left an indelible mark on American history.


the Old Joliet Prison

The prison was finally closed in 2002, marking the end of an era for a facility that had become too expensive to maintain and operate. Over its long history, Joliet housed a wide range of inmates, from notorious criminals to petty offenders, each contributing to the complex tapestry of its legacy. Notable figures such as the infamous gangster Baby Face Nelson and the serial killer John Wayne Gacy were once held within its walls, adding a dark allure to its storied past.


the Old Joliet Prison

The closure of the Old Joliet Prison did not mark the end of its story. Instead, it opened a new chapter as a cultural and historical landmark, attracting visitors from around the globe. Efforts to preserve the site for educational and historical purposes have been underway, highlighting the importance of maintaining such a significant piece of Illinois's penal history. Today, tours of the abandoned facility offer a glimpse into the lives of those who lived and worked there.


Hollywood Behind Bars: Joliet's Star Turns

Do you remember the iconic opening of "The Blues Brothers" (1980), where Jake Blues steps into the light of freedom from the gates of the Old Joliet Prison? That unforgettable scene has woven the prison indelibly into the fabric of movie history, marking just the beginning of its storied cinematic journey.

But the allure of Joliet doesn't stop with Jake and Elwood. This architectural marvel has served as the backdrop for a variety of productions, from the comedic escapades in "Let's Go to Prison" to the nail-biting suspense of "Derailed," and even the cult classic "Natural Born Killers." The prison has also played a significant role in TV, most notably as the stand-in for Fox River State Penitentiary in the hit series "Prison Break." Its imposing structure and eerie ambiance make it a versatile set for tales of all tones, from the dark and dramatic to the light-hearted and comedic.


The Haunting Echoes of Old Joliet Prison

The Old Joliet Prison's history is not just marked by its infamous inmates and architectural grandeur but also by its enduring legacy of ghostly tales that date back almost a century. The most notable story emerged in 1932, captivating prisoners and locals alike with mysterious singing from the convict cemetery, resembling distant church hymns in an unknown language. This phenomenon sparked a media frenzy, becoming a defining moment in the prison's haunted history.

Today, spirits are said to be a common sight within the prison's walls, often appearing in photos as strange mists or shadowy figures, adding a supernatural layer to tours of the complex. These eerie encounters offer a glimpse into the otherworldly, making the Old Joliet Prison a focal point for those intrigued by the possibility of the paranormal.


the Old Joliet Prison

On the Horizon: More Route 66 Adventures

As captivating as the Old Joliet Prison has been, it's just one of many stories waiting to be discovered along Route 66. In my next blog, we'll hit the road again, diving into the heart of this historic highway. From neon-lit diners frozen in time to natural wonders and oddball attractions, Route 66 is a treasure trove of Americana waiting to be explored. So, buckle up; our adventure is just getting started.

This detour to the Old Joliet Prison was an unforgettable journey into America's complex tapestry of history, pop culture, and the paranormal. For road trippers, history buffs, and thrill-seekers alike, this is a reminder of the endless surprises that await around every bend of Route 66. Stay tuned, keep exploring, and let's see what other iconic stops and stories this legendary road has to offer!

Until next time, keep wandering, stay curious, and who knows what unexpected detours and legendary tales await us on the open road!


route 66 illinois gemini giant

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4件のコメント


ゲスト
3月22日

Horror stories about that prison long ago said the guards would hold you down rape you and beat you if you didn't and let the others have you at night damn

いいね!

ゲスト
3月22日

One of your guests text me I don't know how but sounded like the skunk ape

いいね!

ゲスト
3月22日

You got these guys so excited

いいね!

Robert Allen
Robert Allen
3月22日

Thank you for that

いいね!
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