No list of strange and spooky places of San Francisco would be complete without a visit to Alcatraz. It’s believed that the Miwok Indians may have used the isolated island for thousands of years as a place to gather bird’s eggs for food (alcatraz means pelican in old Spanish) and to banish members of their society. By 1859 the U.S. government seized control of the island and used it to imprison 19 Hopi Indians who refused to give into aggressive government tactics to “Americanize”. By 1912 the U.S. Army built a new prison on the island and by 1934 the Fed took over and turned it into Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary; a prison designed to crush the souls of men. Both prisoners and guards suffered deep physical and psychological trauma, while there. The prison closed in 1963 and shortly after reopened as a U.S. National Park. Ever since, guards of the island, at night, have claimed to hear the sounds of items breaking, people running, and men screaming. Cell 14D, known as the “Hole”, was where Rufe McCain spent three years in a metal box in solitary confinement. When finally released, he stabbed another inmate to death. He was acquitted because of the irreparable psychological damage his imprisonment had done to him. When you visit, if you’re given the opportunity to sit in 14D, in one corner of the cell you may be overcome with emotion as you feel an icy chill wash over your body, even in the summer months. Be careful but be gentle, it may be Rufe begging to be set free...
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