Journey to Shawshank

I recently found myself in Ohio.  I really have had no interest in going to this state but fate recently redirected my path to this very unique green state.  In hindsight, I actually thoroughly enjoyed this state and left with many good memories and things I’ve now put on my list for returning exploration.

As I’m driving north on the freeway, out of Cincinnati, I see a billboard with a very ghostly, old world building.  I gave the billboard a double take because I recognized the building.  The next billboard down gave me the reason why the building caught my attention.  There on this big roadside billboard was the Ohio State Reformatory.  A monstrous, ghostly building that I’m sure many will know more intimately as the prison in the 1994 blockbuster “Shawshank Redemption”.


Too be honest, and no offense to the people of Ohio, I was pretty down on my initial dive into finding some adventure in this state.  In reality, all I needed was spark.  Once I knew this beautifully green state could contain something like the Ohio State Reformatory (OSR) my mind was off to the races.  A stop for breakfast at First Watch Restaurant and some wifi definitely helped too!

I am always enamored with the construction of buildings that can last for not only decades or scores, but for centuries!  The OSR structure is truly amazing.  The gothic structure is truly a ghoulish sight.  Check out the web site for the reformatory and enjoy a nice over head drone shot of the property on the main page:  OSR

This building broke ground in 1886 and was completed in 1910.  The building and grounds have seen some amazing times; everything from training of civil war soldiers to its hight in 1955 housing over 5,000 prisoners.

Okay, I don’t want to bore you but I had to look up why this structure is so stunning and unique.   The architect used three styles and melded them into one powerful structure, which I feel creates an incredible presence.  Signatures of Victorian Gothic, Romanesque and Queen Anne are present at every turn.  I have to be honest the combination of the three creates quite a scary site from the time you exit your vehicle until it swallows inside its belly.

Onto the guts of this monstrosity.  The self guided tour is a must.  I cannot speak to the guided tour because I didn’t take it, mostly because I don’t being held back by “foot shuffler’s” and like to blaze my own path.  I like to make my own discoveries, those ones that a teenage tour guide just is not going to help in quenching my thirst.

IMG_3425 Much like discovering this welded and walled off area.  It seems to be something very similar to what we called in my bodyguard days as the “back of the house”.  Basically utility and employee area access but this truly intrigued me as there was definitely an ominous feeling near this area.  Then again anytime I find a door I want to know what’s behind it.  Weld it shut and I know your hiding something!

My point in not liking tours and tour guides on these type of experiences is mostly because it “muffles” up the energies and my concentration.  A great example of that was in the beginning of the tour I was in the housing areas of the warden and the warden’s family.  To be honest the area was pretty boring and they were general living areas with multiple layers of wall papers, paints, and sealers of sorts.  Doesn’t the best things happen when your mind is almost in a bored, unclouded moment?  Sort of like walking into an empty room, out of boredom turning around fairly quickly, and then a door opens behind you…a heavy, wooden door with rusty hinges.  Luckily, I had my camera up and caught my facial expression, so excuse the Scooby Doo “Rut Roh” face.

IMG_3427Come to find out that the warden’s wife at the time was shot in the chest.  The story goes the warden’s wife was moving a piece of furniture and a loaded gun fell to the ground.  The falling handgun hit the floor and discharged.  The unfortunate events led the gun shot to blast her directly in the chest.  She officially died later in the hospital.  I’m sorry, I see some massive holes (no pun intended) in this story.  There are those very weird random events but this event just has way too many coincidental events to have truly occurred.  Bottom line there was a murder here and it was covered up.  I think anyone who watches Discover ID could come to that conclusion!

I did really enjoy the movie trivia and some of the display areas where you got to see and feel some of the sets that were left to help boon the tour.  Since it was my favorite drama for many years being educated on little tidbits was nice.  One movie prop that I really liked was the “tunnel” that the main character, Andy Dufresne, dug to escape.  The famous scene that was featured here with this prop was Warden Norton’s perspective as he peered down the tunnel.  I’m not so sure I’d have fit if I had to follow Andy down the rabbit hole.


One thing that I found very unique was the east wing and west wing were built very different.  One side was built with steel and the other much more brick and mortar style construction.  I was really shocked at how huge this place was and I can’t fathom what this place must have been like full…full of evil, anguish, and strife.

Below are a some photos of some areas.  This place was so huge I got tired of snapping pics to be honest.  These are primarily of the east wing (don’t kill me if I got that backwards).

I will leave you with few pics of me and my side kicks on this journey!  This was definitely and amazing adventure!

Oh wait! I almost forgot about this discovery.  I leave you with this…


…and a few quotes from the movie:

  • Ellis Boy “Red” Redding: Get busy living, or get busy dying…
  • Ellis Boy “Red” Redding: I’d like to think that the last thing that went through his head, other than that bullet, was to wonder how the hell Andy Dufresne ever got the best of him.
  • Warden Norton – I believe in two things: discipline and the Bible. Here you’ll receive both. Put your trust in the Lord; your ass belongs to me. Welcome to Shawshank.
  • Andy Dufresne: Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.
  • Capt. Byron Hadley: I’m not gonna count to three, I’m not even gonna count to one. You will shut the fuck up or I’ll sing you a lullaby!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s