Nevada State Prison (NSP), managed by the Nevada Department of Corrections was located in the capital of Carson City. The city was named for frontiersman and scout Christopher “Kit” Carson.
The prison closed its doors on May 18, 2012, and was one of the oldest United States facilities to house inmates. It was built in 1862 by the Nevada Territorial Legislature, designed to hold 841 prisoners, and had a staff of 211.
In 1867, a fire destroyed the original building. In 1870, a major portion of the prison burned down and was rebuilt with inmate labor and stone from the on-site quarry. Abraham Curry owned the hotel that was turned into the original prison and the surrounding land.
He was appointed the first Warden in 1864. In October, Nevada became a State and the new constitution appointed the Lieutenant Governor of Nevada to also act as warden. Robert M Howland took his place. In 1871, then warden Frank Denver was seriously injured in a 27 inmate prison break.
In 1882 fossilized footprints, that inmates had found years earlier while quarrying stones in the prison, were found to be 2 million years old by the California Academy of Science in San Francisco.
They are thought to be from a previously unknown race of giant humans although they have turned out to be giant sloths. Other prints include mammoths, native horses, large birds, dire wolves, and the sloths, big-toothed cats, elk, and deer.
The next year 1872, Denver refused to concede the prison to the new warden Pressly C. Hyman. The Governor, Lewis R. Bradley, had to send troops in 1873 to force Denver to surrender. Confronted by 60 soldiers and a small artillery piece, Denver surrendered the institution. The Northern Nevada Correctional Center expanded the prison in 1964. It was a maximum-security facility until the new, Ely State Prison was opened to fulfill that responsibility. This new prison was located in unincorporated White Pine County, Nevada, about 9 miles north of Ely.
In 1903 the Nevada State legislature required that all executions be done by hanging. The first inmate executed was John Hancock on September 8, 1905. On November 17, 1905, Thomas F. Gorman, Al Linderman, Fred Reidt, and John P. Sevener, were executed using double gallows.
This was the largest multiple execution in the history of Nevada. They had thrown a man, to his death, off of a moving train. Two Native Americans, Indian Johnny, a Shoshone, and Joe Ibapah, a Goshute, were executed using double gallows on December 7, 1906.
In 1910 Nevada passed a law allowing inmates to choose between hanging and shooting for their execution method. Andriza Mircovich was the first and only inmate in Nevada to be executed by shooting.
In 1921, a bill authorizing gas was passed. Condemned murderer Gee Jon, of the Hip Sing Tong criminal society, became the first person to be executed by this method in the United States. After 32 executions by gas, in 1983 the State Legislature changed the method of execution to lethal injection.
On December 6, 1985, serial killer Carroll Cole became the first inmate to be executed in Nevada by lethal injection. He was sentenced and executed for the death of five women, though his death toll could have been much higher. He told an interviewer shortly before his execution, “I just messed up my life so bad that I just don’t care to go on.” 12 men were executed by lethal injection, the last in 2006. The executions were then moved to Ely State Prison.
After Governor Fred Balzar signed Assembly Bill 98 into law and legalized gambling in 1931, the Nevada State Prison opened a casino for the inmates. The casino operated in a windowless solid rock room carved from natural sandstone moved to a larger sandstone facility later in the 1930s.
The casino was called the “BullPen” and had games such as blackjack, craps, and poker Inmates ran the casino and had their own currency in denominations of 5c, 10c, 25c, 50c, $1, and $5 which were used. These chips are valuable as a collector’s item today.
The casino closed in April 1967 and was replaced with activities such as volleyball, ping pong, and painting. The Bullpen was knocked down that same year.
Leonard Fristoe and two other inmates accompanied Warden Tom Slater in the warden’s car on a trip to Reno in 1923. Left unattended for a few minutes, Fristoe walked away and was missing for 45 years. In 1968 he was arrested for a domestic disturbance and returned to prison. This was the longest escape and recapture until 2015. In 1928 the prison became the source for the state’s license plates. they were stamped and painted by trustee inmates.
The institution witnessed several murders of inmates, high-profile escapes, numerous hostage incidents, and attacks on staff. NSP also became troubled by racial tension and the rise of prison gangs.
The operation of the prison became an issue in the gubernatorial election campaign of 1982, contributing to the defeat of an incumbent Governor. Ultimately, control was regained by the hiring and influence of a “Town-Tamer”, the former warden of San Quentin, George Sumner.
Since it closed, this complex has been a preferred destination to many paranormal investigators due to its reported high supernatural activity. The most-reported paranormal activity includes disembodied voices, unexplained noises, energy pockets, moving orbs, and various apparitions.
EMF (electromagnetic field) meters and thermal cameras have picked up various voices. Many have seen numerous apparitions especially at night behind barred windows. Many folks have felt some physical contact when nobody was around.
During an official paranormal investigation, what appeared to be a mist clouded one of the cells where disembodied legs were also seen. The mess hall and kitchen have sustained much violent energy from the riot days.
This is one of the hotspots of spectral events. One time a digital recording picked up a man eerily laughing. A shower room is active with the spirit of an inmate who was allegedly murdered here. This property was featured on Ghost Adventures.