Earlier this year, Appalachia Bare took a trip to the Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. If any of our readers are true crime aficionados, this visit would be worth your while. The museum’s architectural structure is built similar to one of the buildings on Alcatraz Island, and the tour is self-guided and hours long. The building houses a history of crime information, from criminals to forensics to law enforcement.
A little information about Alcatraz:
The small island was named Isla de los Alcatraces (or, Island of the Pelicans) by Spanish naval lieutenant Don Juan Manuel de Ayala in 1775. In 1850, the United States designated the island as U.S. military territory used to protect the San Francisco Bay. By 1853, the island housed a citadel, several batteries, barracks, and cell blocks. By the early1860s, the island became Fort Alcatraz with an “85 cannon and a garrison of 130 men.”1)“Historic California Posts: Post at Alcatraz Island” by Robert B. Roberts. Militarymuseum.org. The island was a POW camp during the Civil War. After the war, and in keeping with a military theme, Alcatraz became a “disciplinary barracks for military prisoners, a prison for recalcitrant [Hopi] Indians, and then a P.O.W. facility for Spanish American Philippines Islands prisoners and World War 1 conscientious objectors.” Between 1909 and 1911, prisoners built a new prison, and the area was nicknamed “The Rock.” After 1933, the island passed from the military to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, via the Department of Justice. It remained a maximum-security, minimum-privilege prison until 1964 due to expensive upkeep. Without the amount of monies needed, the buildings declined and decayed.
On average, the population never exceeded 300 prisoners. Unruly convicts were sent there because routines and daily life were extremely structured. An Alcatraz prisoner had four rights:
- Medical care
From 1936 to 1962, fourteen escapes were attempted. The record states no man escaped The Rock. Escapees whose bodies were never found were deemed drowned and dead, though some purported sightings say otherwise.
Take a look at our visit in the gallery below.
Arthur Bohanan is a native of Sevier County, TN. His interest in fingerprinting enabled him to work for the Sevier County Sheriff Department while still in high school. After he graduated, he joined the FBI, and eventually worked for the Knoxville (TN) Police Department. He helped begin the "National Forensic Academy, and became one of the few Certified Latent Print Examiners in the world." He developed a technique using vaporized superglue to lift fingerprints from corpses. He assisted with forensics in 9/11.
All images from the museum photographed by Delonda Anderson
**Featured image by Humberto Portillo, Unsplash
- Federal Bureau of Prisons
- Historic California Posts: Post at Alcatraz Island
- D.B. Cooper Hijacking, FBI
- Alcatraz East Crime Museum
- National Archives
- Library of Congress
|↑1||“Historic California Posts: Post at Alcatraz Island” by Robert B. Roberts. Militarymuseum.org.|