When you think of a trip to San Francisco, the first place a ghost hunter
or ghost enthusiast imagines is Alcatraz.
I have always been the type of ghost
researcher that really enjoys the
historical aspects of a haunted location.
I enjoy the research that goes into
explaining the paranormal activity,
through its history. Alcatraz is one
of those places that is so submerged
in rich layers of the past, you could
literally spend a lifetime researching
every aspect of its many layers. The
island has served several purposes
over its active years. The National
Park Service does an excellent job
trying to preserve and celebrate that
history. Some of those historical
layers are a gold fort, a military
prison, a federal prison and it was
even reclaimed and inhabited by a
group of Native American tribes for
over a year. I've had a never ending
fascination with the island of Alcatraz
and visit it any chance I can get.
Friends and family that visit me in
San Francisco never leave without
the offer to go on a tour to the lonely
Last year, one of my biggest dreams
came true. I received an invitation
to spend the whole night on Alcatraz
with a group of paranormal researchers.
I did not end up sleeping at all that
night! It was an amazing evening and
we were able to validate several of
the ghost stories that are told of
the island. There were a total of
thirty five ghost hunters from all
over the United States who participated
in this occasion. Some old friends
were present and several people I
was honored to just meet, came together
on that wet and chilly evening.
There was a private ferry ride to
“The Rock” and you can
imagine how we felt when the ferry
announcer blasted over the speaker
system to a waiting crowd, “Hey
everyone, these folks will be spending
the night on the island tonight”
he blasted! The crowd sighed with
envy and then began to cheer for us.
Once we departed the boat for the
dock, we made our way to a covered
section tucked away in the corner.
We were met by our personal National
Park Service ranger for the overnight
stay. He was stern and serious, a
clean shaven guy in his forties in
green uniform and matching hat. His
deep voice loudly welcomed the group
to the island. He followed his speech
by explaining the many rules that
we must follow on our overnight stay.
No smoking, no food in the cell house
and absolutely no going in restricted
areas. These restricted places were
off limits for safety concerns. The
National Park Service invests a lot
of money to maintain the weather beaten
and corroded buildings that still
remain on the island. There is constant
construction that takes place to keep
up with the aging of the areas. Our
overnight ranger informed us that
we would all spend the night in solitary
confinement cells. My eyes widened
and I smiled, because it is the notoriously
haunted Cell Block D section of the
prison. This infamous solitary confinement
area was known to have its share of
ghostly activity. During the Federal
prison operation, it's said that an
inmate could be locked in the pitch
black cells and would be kept there
for several days. The last three cells...12,
13 and 14 are known to have the most
spirit activity. I was very lucky
to secure Cell 12 that evening.
My dear friend and colleague, psychic/medium
Annalisa Bastiani would be my cell
mate for the evening. Annalisa arrived
on the island with great anticipation.
She ended up being so energy drained
early in the evening that she turned
in and the next morning explained
vivid dreams of 1940's show girls.
I suppose many inmates would have
had those dreams during a long sentence
on Alcatraz in that era.
A Real Alcatraz Ghost
This was taken in
June of 2007. I took this picture
at the morgue at Alcatraz without
thinking there was a ghost of any
sort there. The picture was taken
by a digital camera and there was
no glass in front of the camera when
I took the picture. I found out recently
that Alcatraz is riddled with haunts.
Photo submitted by Mark Wolo.
I was able to validate what I have
known about cell 12, through my research.
There are many reports of feelings
of nausea in the cell. My first thought
was to look for any environmental
factors that could cause this, like
mold, high EMF fields, slants in the
floor, etc. There was nothing unusual
that evening. I do know through my
own personal experiences in ghost
research, that nausea is common when
experiencing a residual haunting.
So to validate this claim, I sought
people who were not aware of the tales
told of cell 12. I invited them to
spend some time in there and let me
know what impressions they felt. All
participants felt the nausea when
staying in the solitary cell. I found
this truly amazing and a good validation
of the stories.
We were also able to capture some
class A EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena)
in the infirmary area of the prison
that same night. The hospital is considered
one of the most active areas of the
prison. We certainly had our share
of doors slamming behind us, dark
shadows darting across the hall and
foul phantom smells. However, some
tales told of the island were impossible
to verify...like the apparitions in
the Warden's house. Unfortunately,
all that remains of the Warden's house
is a couple walls that stand like
a skeleton in the area that it once
towered over. You can learn more about
that night we spent on Alcatraz, by
hearing the San Francisco Ghost Society's
Live Podcast from the over night stay.
go to URL: http://www.sfghostsociety.org/html/webcast.html
I do realize that most people cannot
be fortunate enough to spend a full
overnight stay on Alcatraz, but most
visitors don't realize that you can
visit the island on a night tour.
This is the next best thing to staying
overnight. When folks visit San Francisco,
they find out about these tours once
they are here. They are usually disappointed
to hear that it is too late to get
tickets because all spaces are sold
out weeks in advance. This is especially
true during San Francisco's high summer
The goal of this article is to help
you have the most enjoyable adventure
on Alcatraz. You will do this by just
following the few valuable tips that
are contained here. You will avoid
most of the tourist traps that are
offered by vendors and be able to
concentrate on the areas where most
paranormal evidence is captured.
So, if you plan on visiting San
Francisco, it is best to handle a
night tour to the island in advance.
The best way to book your tour is
by going to the National Park Service
web site directly at www.alcatrazcruises.com.
They also offer discounts for kids
When you are booked and ready to
visit the island make sure you bring
a jacket because the evenings can
be very chilly in San Francisco's
Bay. It never hurts to have some good
walking shoes when you visit Alcatraz.
There are a few inclines you'll have
to climb on your way up to the cell
house. They usually stop at every
incline to discuss the history of
the island. This also allows you a
bit of a rest.
Once you arrive at the cell house,
you should go directly to the tour
desk. Your admission to Alcatraz allows
you to take free tours that are only
offered on the evening excursion.
These tours include highly active
places like the citadel and Infirmary.
There is limited space on these tours
and they do go very fast. You can
do a hard hat tour of the Citadel
portion of the island first. This
was the original layer that was once
a fort and is often called “the
dungeon,” because it contains
several cubby holes that prisoners
were shackled in by their arms and
legs, then left for weeks in complete
and total darkness. There are many
rumors of screams and crying in the
Citadel and it is an exciting tour
to see. Make sure you bring a good
a real Alcatraz Ghost?
Alcatraz Ghosts: This
reported as real Ghost Photo was sent
to us by Glenn Shelton. He believes
he has captured a real Alcatraz Ghost
on film. Shelton says he believes
this proves that Alcatraz is the"
Most Haunted Federal Prison"
In the world.
The other tour of the infirmary
is very exciting too. They do not
offer this tour on any of the day
excursions, so it is a must! There
is plenty of activity in this section
of the prison and many psychics and
paranormal researchers have talked
about the spirits that still haunt
the hospital section of Alcatraz.
Some of our best evidence of that
evening was caught in this area of
the prison and is talked about on
our live podcast. During the night
we had asked the spirits if there
was anything needed to communicate
with them. When reviewing our audio
we discovered an EVP that clearly
answers us by stating, “The
dark is power.” It was a unforgettable
evening and I hope you too will go
and validate the many ghosts of Alcatraz.
About Tommy Netzband
Tommy Netzband is the creator of
the Haunted Haight Walking Tour and
Founder and President of The San
Francisco Ghost Society. He frequently
lectures on the paranormal throughout
The San Francisco Ghost Society was
founded by Tommy Netzband as a small
all volunteer organization, devoted
to the research and investigation
of the city and county of San Francisco's
ghosts and paranormal occurrences.
We conduct FREE, professional and
discreet investigations of locations
where there have been reports of paranormal
activity or unexplained occurrences.
Our approach is one of flexible skepticism;
we seek to remain unconvinced by the
end of the investigation, as opposed
to embracing every speck of dust caught
on camera as proof positive of a haunting.
To this end we conduct extensive research
about a prospective site, to understand
its history, architecture, infrastructure
and location. We utilize a broad spectrum
of equipment and technology to record
and analyze the course of the investigation.
Our team members are all responsible,
knowledgeable and professional individuals
from the San Francisco area, who contribute
their diverse interests, talents and
time to each investigation.
visit to learn more about our services.
Haunted Haight Walking Tour
is often called a "ghost historian"
for his passion for researching the
history of ghosts. Come discover the
macabre history of San Francisco and
learn all about the ghosts of Haight-Ashbury
The Dead Spoken To You Lately?