So.........What Happens on a Ghost Hunt at OSR?
During my first year volunteering at OSR I was amazed to find out that the Ghost Hunts usually sell out quickly. I was told last year that if you didn’t get a Ghost Hunt date reserved by the beginning of March you probably wouldn’t get one the rest of the summer and fall. This year is no different. As of the beginning of June, according to the www.mrps.org website, there is only one Ghost Hunt that is NOT sold out so it’s only a matter of time until they’re all sold out this year as well.
Remember that Ghost Hunts are a lot different than the Ghost Walks, which is offered at OSR. During Ghost Walks there is a volunteer staff member that guides a group of people through different parts of the Reformatory and gives you some background on the building and the paranormal. You don’t get full realm of the facility during a Ghost Walk so it only lasts from 8pm to around 10:30pm. Its all guided and what happens at the ending is the most exciting in my opinion. I don’t want to spoil what happens but to me that’s the coolest part.
During a Ghost Hunt, when you get to the Reformatory, the gate opens up around 7pm and you check-in in the East Administration Building on the first floor. After Scott, the Ghost Hunt Manager, goes over the ground rules for the evening you can either take a tour of the building to get familiar with your surroundings or start the hunt and go off with your group. The lights go off around 9pm or so and then the fun begins. Technically you have access to around 95% of the building but there will be places that you cannot go to and you can see that it indicated by either yellow caution tape, white chains or a locked door.
If you do take a tour from one of the volunteers like Keith, Erick, Becky, or myself, we start out taking you to different parts of OSR and give you some of the historical background but also some of the paranormal that’s gone on there too. The paranormal aspect may be from something that occurred recently or something that occurred to us personally. Each tour is different. The lights are on during the tour then after the last tour is finished, and you know what the place looks like in the light, Scott turns the lights off and you’re hunting with your flashlight the rest of the night. Don’t worry, there’s maps of the building you can get at the desk when you check-in so you don’t get lost and become overnight tenants.
Some of the people that do a Ghost Hunt bring really fancy equipment they purchased online like a ghost box, digital recorder, K2, ghost meter or a thermal camera. While a lot of that stuff is nice, its also expensive for one night. A lot will have a digital recorder and for some that’’s the most sophisticated equipment they have, which is fine. You can get a lot from a digital recorder to save and rem-inis about your experience. However, if you really want to have a great experience you don’t have to go broke. The three best things to rely on for your ghost hunt at OSR is the following: what you see, what you hear, and what you feel.
Many times you will see the other volunteers during the ghost hunts go in groups to various parts of the prison and what we’ll do is just sit along the wall or on a chair and just look for shadow figures coming in and out of cells, feel any cold areas (as long as the hunt is not in January), and listen for anything that stands out as unusual. Every volunteer has their favorite area to go to.
If you get hungry don’t worry, there’s pizza delivered around 11pm and if you get tired and need a drink there’s water, soda, tea and coffee to keep you energized during the night. The main hub during the Ghost Hunt is the “Mini-Bullpen”. Here you have access to the rest rooms and tables and chairs to rest during the night and socialize with OSR volunteers or other ghost hunters. Some people stay until 5am when the Ghost Hunt adjourns but some go home early too. Each ghost hunter is different and each week is different as well.
If you’re a glutton for punishment in the winter there is an “Extreme Ghost Hunt” that is offered one night in November, December, January and February. The extreme part happens with the weather. If you’ve ever experienced an Ohio winter it can be 20 degrees above zero or 20 degrees below zero and inside OSR it gets bone chilling cold. Almost to the point that last year I overheard two ghost hunters say at a hunt in January, “lets go outside and warm-up”. A puzzling statement but it was true. In addition to the weather you may not have 95% access to the prison. For example, you may have to be carful of black ice inside OSR so there may be some places you cannot go to. Last year it was the south end of the East Cell Block and the new windows were just getting put back in place and rain came into the building. It was roped off for safety reasons but the north end was open. Before that particular Ghost Hunt started Scott announced that it was the coldest Ghost Hunt in the History of Ghost Hunts at OSR. The high temperature inside that night was four degrees and the low temperature was one degree, and that was without the windchill. Guess who was there that night? THIS GUY! I think I had every article of winter clothing on possible to stay warm.
The size of your group can also make a difference regarding what you see as well. Small groups are preferred since if you were an inmate you could approach two or three in a group but more than four people may not be a good idea when the prison was open. That could mean the difference between life and death in the cell blocks or in the yard. Now there’s no guarantee that you will be greeted by a full-body apparition in the Quartermaster Room or have a conversation with deceased prisoners in the attic so keep in mind that you might have a lot of activity or hardly any. So if you’re not afraid of the dark or what goes bump in the night, consider a Ghost Hunt at OSR and see what you’ve heard about. And if you want more of a description of Ghost Hunts, check out our Ohio State Reformatory youtube.com page.