Paranormal Road Trip: Day 2 Events! Haunted Prison & Bible Wax Museum

It’s day 2 of Rebecca, Richard, and Jon’s journey through the weird and wooful on their road trip to CSICon in Nashville. Today they are headed to Mansfield, Ohio, to see if the reportedly haunted Ohio State Reformatory can scare the wits out of them. Then they are off to tour the Living Bible Museum in all its animatronic wax museum glory. To cap off the day, they’ll encounter hard evidence that spirits really do exist—at Barley’s in Columbus, where you can meet up with them for drinks and their latest stories from the road. More info after the jump.

Meet Rebecca, Jon, and Richard Tonight in Columbus!

Although the paranormal pit stops are not public events, because they’ll be interviewing and filming on a tight schedule, you can meet up with them in Columbus, thanks to Ashley Paramore of Columbus Skeptic. She’s organized a public event tonight at Barley’s, and anyone in the Columbus area is welcome! Be the first to hear about the Mansfield adventures and get the details on yesterday’s pit stops.

Where: Barley’s Brewing Company, 467 N. High Street, Columbus, OH (map)

Note: The event is being held in the basement of Barley’s.

When: Oct. 21, 8 pm

Click here for more info, including parking details.

You can also follow along on Twitter. Check out @CSIRoadTrip, as well as @RichardWiseman, @RebeccaWatson, and @JonRonson.


DAY 2, STOP 1: Ohio State Reformatory, Mansfield

The Mansfield Ohio State Reformatory is definitely a creepy-looking building, inside and out. Covering 250,000 square feet, the castle-like building took 10 years to build in the late nineteenth century and holds a six-tier free-standing steel cell block, the largest in the world.

Because of the ambience, OSR was the setting for scenes in films such as Shawshank Redemption, Air Force One, and the truly terrifying Tango and Cash. <shudder>

As the name suggests, the reformatory was initially built to reform young men convicted of minor crimes, with the hardened criminals sent to the state penitentiary in Columbus. This changed over the years, and with this change, the prison’s history became more violent.

Rebecca, Richard, and Jon will no doubt find out the specifics of these incidents and the most enduring and spooky ghost stories they spawned, but you can find a bunch of personal experience stories from tourists in the OSR section of

Here’s a taste of some of the goofier ones:

Prankster ghost:

I have been to the reformatory a few times (for the staged haunt). . . During the course of the night, my Gatorade bottle kept making its way to the other side of the fence and my tennis shoes (which were tied and double knotted) were untied every time I moved to make a scare.


 All of a sudden, I was violently pushed from behind. I know it wasnt someone jumping out and trying to scare me because no one would EVER do that on those rickety stairs. I know it wasnt my clumsiness, because I was so violently pushed that it jarred even my friend and caused me to fall hard on one knee. Of course, when I turned around to see if anyone was behind me, there wasnt. 

Occam’s ghost:

I did have a scary encounter with a ghost in the Reformatory. I was walking with my friend in front of a cell, and it felt like I ran into a spider web. I told the tour guide, and he asked, Did it feel like you ran into a spider web? I said yes. He said, You have just been touched. It was awesome!


DAY 2, STOP 2: Living Bible Museum, Mansfield

The Living Bible Museum looks so campy that you have to wonder if it isn’t some elaborate poe. Founded by Pastor Richard Diamond (cue cartoon teeth glint), the museum features some 300 wax and fiberglass figures that were purchased second-hand and given a Total Bible Extreme Makeover.

They depict scenes from the Bible, complete with animatronics, narration, and original music (Living Bible Museum dance party, anyone?). The scenes are divided among four tours: The Life of Christ, Miracles of the Old Testament, Museum of Christian Martyrs, and Heart of the Reformation.

But wait! That’s not all. There’s a dinner theater, with drama played out on a ‘70s brown and cream carpet just like Jesus had. They are currently running their Christmas play, which answers the question: “Will we have the freedom to celebrate Christmas and Thanksgiving in this country in the near future or will it become another memory of the good old days?” The play actually opened in September, because this is war, and the best defense is to be totally offensive. Or something.

Columbus skeptics are in for a particularly hilarious night of stories. And a heads up to Cincinnati people—there are two public events going on there tomorrow, after Richard, Jon, and Rebecca stop off at the Salon de Magie, an incredible private collection of magic-related items (including a lot of historical stuff), in Loveland, OH, and Bobby Mackey’s Haunted Honky Tonk, in Wilder, KY. Check back tomorrow for more details.


Image credits: Krystn (featured image), Leann, s-ron mckellar.

Melanie Mallon

Melanie is a freelance editor and writer living in a small town outside Minneapolis with her husband, two kids, dog, and two cats. When not making fun of bad charts or running the Uncensorship Project, she spends her time wrangling commas, making colon jokes, and putting out random dumpster fires. You can find her on Twitter as @MelMall, on Facebook, and on Instagram.

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  1. I’ve toured the Mansfield Reformatory because I’m obsessed with Shawshank. I didn’t have any paranormal incidents, but the incredibly high lead levels made me feel like I had motion sickness after about an hour and a half. I’d still highly recommend the trip though. The prison is beautiful same the way a shipwreck is, and very interesting on humanitarian grounds.

  2. Hi, it’s been awhile since I replied to any blogs but, I’m glad I check in with Skepchick because I’m digging these paranormal/ghost hunt articles. So kudos. It is a shame that I’ve waited so late to suggest a place but, the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, WV is pretty awesome. They give historic tours, do ghost hunts and up until Halloween they have a haunted house.

    I am a soft skeptic…not so vigilant but, as a hobby (and at the risk of this sounding like a shameless plug) I am also a “fortune teller”. By that I mean that I set up a booth and read tarot cards, do pendulum dowsing, futhark rune readings and even induct folks into hypnotic trance for crystal ball scrying for $5 a pop and my own amusement. I have had people scurry away from my booth as if the devil himself were going to pop out or the very brave boldly ask for a reading or trance and even after giving away my “magician’s secret” on how I can turn a random event like the layout of cards or the drop of wood chips into the most accurate reading of a person’s current woos and wants the amount of superstition that is still alive and well in modern day America astounds me.
    So long story short (too late), I invite anyone and everyone to test your skeptical resolve on Oct. 27th at the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum’s costume ball (a BYOB event) where you can take part in a ghost hunt, go to a costume party, go through a haunted house or come to my booth for the most astoundingly accurate Tarot card reading or hypnotic trance you’ve ever had and as a bonus, identify yourself as a skeptic and I will divulge my magician’s secret on how my readings are so damn accurate.

  3. Glad you went to the Mansfield Reformatory. I’ve been there a few times, once on a tour and on two ghost hunts. The ghost hunts are the best: you get the run of the place from dusk til dawn, and you get to be a fly on the wall with some of the most gullible, deluded, credulous people you will see anywhere. The first hunt I went on, I was serious about paranormal investigation, but I did it with a skeptical angle. I tried capturing EVP’s by leaving a tape recorder in a cell in the solitary confinement block, and I got some doozy conversations!

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