Yuma Territorial Prison – Yuma, Arizona

  • By: Gareth Popovic
  • Date: 6 August 2023
  • Time to read: 5 min.


Yuma Territorial Prison is an eerie reminder of the past that is located near Yuma, Arizona. This ominous building, which was once a representation of brutal justice. Enter this creepy penitentiary and travel back in time as you listen to the echoes of agonized cries and the restless souls of long-deceased inmates.

Yuma Territorial Prison
Yuma Territorial Prison – Credit cliffmolinaphotography


Yuma Territorial Prison was authorized by the legislature in 1875 and opened its doors in 1876. Built by prison laborers, it quickly became known for its tough conditions. The prison’s first warden, F.S. Ingalls, and his wife Madora, brought improvements, including electricity and educational opportunities for inmates.

In 1882, the infamous watchtower was constructed, giving authorities full visibility of the inmates. However, a riot erupted in 1886 when seven prisoners attempted to escape, resulting in casualties.

Overcrowding became an issue in the early 1900s, leading to the construction of a new prison called Florence Prison in 1909. Yuma Territorial Prison remained unused until the 1940s when it served various purposes, including spotting during WWII and operating as a museum.

In 1961, Yuma Territorial Prison was designated as a State Historic Park, attracting visitors who are intrigued by its fascinating yet somber history. Today, it stands as a popular attraction, allowing visitors to explore the remains of this once-dreaded institution and learn about its role in the Wild West era.

Haunting Legends and Supernatural Phenomena

Haunted Dark Cell

At Yuma Territorial Prison lies the notorious Dark Cell, known for its hauntings. Visitors can enter, but the feeling of being watched and cold fingers touching them can be unnerving. Legend has it that a ghostly child resides here, possibly from the Great Depression era.

Dark Cell Of Yuma Prison
Dark Cell – Credit disneylovingdeatheater

According to staff, the ghost of a small girl roams within, potentially one of the children from the Great Depression era. She playfully pokes, prods, and pinches those who venture inside, leaving a chilling impression. A brave writer from Arizona Highways magazine attempted to spend 48 hours in the Dark Cell to experience the prisoner’s plight. Shackled with minimal provisions, she endured for 37 hours before feeling an unsettling sensation of not being alone, ultimately cutting her stay short.

The legend of the Dark Cell persists, drawing curious souls to Yuma Territorial Prison to explore its haunted past. The ghostly child’s presence continues to intrigue, adding an eerie allure to this historic site.

Insidious Cell 14 – John Ryan

In the heart of Yuma Territorial Prison lies Cell 14, a place with a chilling legend. Once occupied by John Ryan, a prisoner guilty of heinous crimes, this cell now evokes unnerving encounters for those who dare to come close.

Cell 14 was John Ryan’s abode, incarcerated for “crimes against nature,” possibly rape. Both guards and inmates loathed him, leading to his tragic suicide in the cell. As the years passed, visitors who walked by Cell 14 reported unsettling experiences. Cold spots manifested, chilling the air around them. Eerie chills crawled down their spines, and a haunting shiver permeated their very being. It seemed as though the somber energy of John Ryan’s torment lingered, reaching out to those who dared to venture near.

The legend of Cell 14 endures, drawing curious visitors to experience the eerie atmosphere at Yuma Territorial Prison. The ghostly energy of John Ryan’s troubled past seems to linger, leaving an unsettling feeling in all who encounter it.

Ghostly Female Inmate & Johnny

In the depths of Yuma Territorial Prison, a myriad of chilling legends unfold. Among them, the spirits of former inmates still roam, leaving their ghostly mark on the present.

As morning breaks, a haunting melody fills the visitors’ area, sung by the ghostly spirit of a female inmate. Her ethereal voice captivates all who hear, a poignant reminder of the prison’s troubled past.

Inside the gift shop, the mischievous ghost named Johnny makes his presence known. He playfully rearranges coins in the cash drawer, leaving bills untouched, leaving staff both bewildered and intrigued.

Yuma Territorial Prison’s spectral tales endure, captivating visitors with the lingering echoes of past souls. The singing inmate and the mischievous Johnny leave an indelible impression, adding to the enigmatic allure of this historic site.

Popular Culture and Media Coverage

Renowned for its rich history and haunting allure, Yuma Territorial Prison has taken center stage in numerous television shows and documentaries exploring the realm of the paranormal. It prominently featured in the gripping series “Eerie Encounters: Unraveling the Ghostly Tales,” where investigators delved into the prison’s eerie past and chilling encounters.

In literature, Yuma Territorial Prison has left an indelible mark in books like “Haunted Asylums, Prisons, and Sanatoriums” by Jamie Davis Whitmer and “Prisoners in Petticoats: The Yuma Territorial Prison” by Elizabeth J. Klungness. These literary works unravel the supernatural stories surrounding the prison, presenting captivating narratives of its spectral history.

Today, Yuma Territorial Prison stands as a must-visit destination for history buffs and paranormal enthusiasts alike, allured by its enigmatic presence in popular culture and media. This historic landmark exudes an aura of intrigue and the otherworldly, inviting all who seek an immersive experience in its captivating and spectral ambiance.


As you exit the Yuma Territorial Prison, the lingering sensation of an otherworldly presence follows you, leaving an indelible mark on your soul. The shadows of the past continue to whisper their tales of despair, leaving you with an unsettling feeling long after you’ve departed from this eerie monument to human suffering. Remember, the Yuma Territorial Prison’s ghosts may forever haunt those who dare to explore its dark corridors and confront the chilling remnants of its haunting history.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Where Is Yuma Territorial Prison Located?
A: Yuma Territorial Prison is located in Yuma, Arizona, USA.

Q: Is Yuma Territorial Prison really haunted?
A: Yes, the prison is notorious for its eerie legends and ghostly encounters, including the singing female inmate and mischievous ghost named Johnny.

Q: Can visitors enter Cell 14, the infamous haunted cell?
A: Unfortunately, Cell 14 is not open for public entry due to its historical significance and preservation efforts.

Q: Are guided ghost tours available at Yuma Territorial Prison?
A: Yes, the prison offers guided ghost tours, where visitors can delve into the chilling stories and legends of this hauntingly historic site.

Q: What precautions are taken during ghost tours?
A: While on ghost tours, our experienced guides ensure the safety and comfort of visitors, providing a well-lit and supervised exploration.

Q: Are children allowed on the ghost tours?
A: Yes, children are allowed on the ghost tours; however, parental discretion is advised due to the potentially spooky nature of the experience.

Q: Can visitors capture ghostly encounters on camera during the tours?
A: While we cannot guarantee paranormal encounters, visitors are welcome to bring cameras and capture their experiences, if any.

Q: Are there any reported encounters with the ghostly child in the Dark Room?
A: Yes, many visitors have reported feeling cold spots, chills, and shivering while passing by the Dark Room, suggesting encounters with the ghostly child.

Q: Can I book private ghost tours for groups or special events?
A: Absolutely! We offer private ghost tours for groups and special events, providing a unique and spine-chilling experience tailored to your needs.

Q: Are there any overnight experiences available for the bravest souls?
A: Unfortunately, overnight stays in the prison are not permitted for safety and preservation reasons.

Q: Is Yuma Territorial Prison open year-round?
A: Yes, the prison is open year-round, allowing visitors to explore its historic and haunted past at their convenience.

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