Missouri State Penitentiary

Missouri State Penitentiary, Jefferson City: Address, Phone Number, Missouri State Penitentiary Reviews: 5/5

Missouri State Penitentiary

Missouri State Penitentiary
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The Missouri State Penitentiary (MSP) opened in 1836 along the banks of the Missouri River in Jefferson City, Missouri, the state capital. The prison housed inmates for 168 years and was the oldest continually operating prison west of the Mississippi until it was decommissioned in 2004. The prison was already 100 years old when Alcatraz began taking inmates.The Jefferson City Convention & Visitors Bureau now offers a wide variety of tours at the site, once named the "The bloodiest 47 acres in America" by Time magazine. Visitors can choose to take a History or Ghost Tour, among others, and will walk through several incredibly historic housing units, the vast upper yard of the property and the gas chamber, where 40 men and women were executed. The tour also showcases cells of infamous inmates such as Sonny Liston, and James Earl Ray, who escaped from MSP before assassinating Martin Luther King Jr. Tour Season runs March - November each year. Tour Season: March - November
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1,058 reviews
Very good

Fort Gibson, OK103 contributions
Jun 2021
A fascinating place to visit. Sometimes a little eerie. We did the two hour history tour. Micheal our tour guide was fantastic! Very knowledgeable and had a good speaking voice. You were able to go into the jail cells and visit the gas chamber. Our son had recommended we visit MSP and it did not disappoint. I would however advise to visit in the spring or Fall as it was VERY hot in June and no AC. Would also recommend purchasing tickets ahead of time if visiting on a weekend as this seems to be a very popular attraction. The tour is 2 hours long and there is a lot of walking so wear comfortable walking shoes. Would very much like to do the paranormal tour sometime.
Written June 16, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Dallas, TX1,672 contributions
Oct 2021
I don’t often say this, but this site is worth going out of your way to see. Our over 2-hour tour by Kathy with her assistant Paul provided history, setting, and stories of the place, its inhabitants—inmates and guards—during its 168 year of active existence. Fascinating to hear how the penitentiary came to be, the development of Jefferson City, the riots of 1954, and even how it came to be a tour site. After seeing the location of the executions be sure to visit the nearby Missouri State Penitentiary Museum which is included in the ticket price. We took the history tour, not the ghost tour.
Written October 31, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Ballwin, MO2 contributions
May 2021
The experience was well worth the money paid!!!! Two docents, (we believe their names were Larry and Roger), and they were awesome. Larry was a former employee who was well versed with the operation of the prison.

We took the $30.00 tour which included a former convict James (Jelly Roll) Cochran and the extra $10.00 was well spent. He added an additional inside look through the eyes of a former convict, which just heightened the experience. Definitely spend the extra $10.00 for the full understanding of what it was like to live there.
Written May 17, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Chicago, IL147 contributions
Apr 2022
This 3-hour tour we took was fun to do, although it seemed cramped and that there were too many people on the tour. There were times the guide started speaking before everyone got within earshot and some people in the back started talking to each other trying to figure out what was being talked about, which made it even more difficult to hear. It seemed that there were over 40 people on this tour. If they capped it at 20 and charged $10-$15 more I think it would be a better experience.

Toward the end of the tour, we were told to move our vehicle for the last part, which was the gas chamber. It was a very small space, so I waited just outside the door on the front step for several people to exit, then several people pushed past me to enter and crammed in there. These are adults, strangers to each other, doing this. Makes me think people don't care if they don't know who these other people are and don't care if they might get sick brushing up against a stranger in a close space, not to mention they are not listening to the guide telling us it was a small space. They are oblivious to someone looking inside, waiting to go in, and push past them. This is not home, this is a shared area. Rather than say something, I just left without seeing it. Might be my loss in not seeing the final place, but I learned more about other people's behavior at the end of the tour, so at least I learned something. I can't say that anyone else there learned what I did.
Written April 3, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Saint Louis, MO539 contributions
Apr 2021
1st: Masks not required or encouraged. The guide was not wearing a mask, and had no problem talking inches from your face. No social distancing.. most were not wearing masks.
2nd: NOT a historical tour. It was 2 hours of hearing rambling stories about being a prison guard in the 70s and 80s. If it had been "Stories from a Guard at the MO State Pen" then it would have been great, but we paid $20 for a historical tour, and we did not get that. The stories were also not cohesive or did not seem to go anywhere. When asked a specific questions, the guide would ramble onto another story, and the question would end up not being answered.

After a tour, I should want to get MORE information, and run to the gift shop to purchase a book for more information. After this tour, I was left with no information.. and needed to pull up a Wikipedia article to just get the basics (that should have been covered in the tour.
Written April 25, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Saint Louis, MO586 contributions
Mar 2021 • Friends
My friend and I love spooky/historical buildings so we were very much looking forward to this tour. I’ve heard that the overnight tour is the best, but, my friend and I wanted to try the basic tour first because it was so much cheaper (plus we have a two hour drive) and we didn’t know if we were going to like it or not. I’ll say this, I wouldn’t recommend the basic 2 hour ghost tour. Here’s my pros and cons:


We had a very large group of people (about 45 is my guess) and it was very hard to hear the guide as they don’t use microphones and people would not shut up on our tour. I’d say about 30% of the people on our tour were wearing masks and no one was keeping their distance. Which, to be fair, it’s very cramped and crowded in the old prison so it seemed very hard to. It was also freezing cold so make sure you dress appropriately. I wish I would’ve worn a second coat. Our tour guide also seemed kind of out of it and uninterested, but it is the beginning of the season so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.


The building is pretty cool looking and we did learn some interesting things. The paranormal investigation was the most fun. We didn’t experience anything creepy, but I would love to come back and do the more in depth tour. After all, you get what you pay for!
Written March 22, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Diana C
Kansas City, MO94 contributions
Jul 2021
My husband & I took the 2 hour ghost tour in early July 2021 for my birthday. I have taken quite a few of these haunted tours in the past because I find the ghost stories fascinating. I have never had an encounter with a ghost or felt anything UNTIL THIS TOUR! We were in the basement of the building and I was taking a picture of my husband in one of the prison cells when I felt something (someone?) touch my back between my shoulder blades. It felt like someone touching me with just one finger- gentle but definite. I turned but no one was behind me so I thought a drip of water fell or maybe a bug. I asked my husband to check my back but there was no bug & no water on me! I don't know what touched me but I can finally say that I had an experience that I cannot explain. I'm just glad that it wasn't a shove!
We got to see death row and sit in the chairs in the gas chamber! I took so many pictures on this tour that my battery started running low.

I had a great time but I feel like I have to mention how uncomfortably hot & humid it was. I am not complaining because I chose to go in July, but this review is to help other people decide when to go. The building does not have any temperature control, other than a few electric fans, and hand held fans they give you. This allows you to better understand how awful it must have been to be incarcerated there but if you are uncomfortable in extreme heat, don't go in the hot weather.
Written June 5, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Karen E
4 contributions
May 2022 • Couples
We did the 5 hr 10pm -3am paranormal tour. All the buildings were creepy and fun to explore. Downside is, there were 35-40 people on this tour. The guides tell you a little about each building then let everyone wander on their own. So there is no way to sit and listen for any sounds or take pics and video because you have people everywhere talking, being loud and walking around you. Also big disappointment, you only have 30 mins at the end of the tour to get 40 people to take pictures at the gas chamber. They really need to allow more time for this area.
Written May 8, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Chuck F
4 contributions
Jun 2021 • Couples
A gathering of four couples opted for the two-hour tour of the MSP. Our guides Michael and Tina captivated all of us during this incredibly interesting and fascinating exploration of the penitentiary and grounds. Mike was well-versed on the history and highlighted some of the events and individuals incarcerated there. We can’t wait to come back for the three hour, and the Ghost Tour! Thank you Michael and Tina for such an enjoyable and deeply interesting tour!
Written June 27, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Kristoffer M
1 contribution
Jul 2021 • Couples
We had the best time on our Ghost Tour! Diane and James were absolutely amazing. Even before the tour officially started Diane was telling us stories and tidbits of history. We even got to see a proposal at the end of our tour! We certainly plan to go back in the future (especially when Housing Unit 4 is finished), and we HIGHLY recommend this to anyone looking for something to do in the Jefferson City area!
Written July 6, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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