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      Tourists visit old Jefferson City prison

      It TMs one of the most historic places in the Capital City.

      For the second year in a row, tourists are getting a behind the scenes look at the old Missouri State Penitentiary.

      Tourists at Jefferson City TMs old prison are coming from all over the country this summer.

      A Chicago area group stopped by the old prison and the State Capitol Building while on a mystery tour of the Midwest.

      It TMs educational," Prison Tourist Carol Ashley said. "It TMs an eye opener. It certainly is. I was shocked, but not surprised, at how badly prisoners were treated back then. I can TMt imagine what it was like.

      At one time, the old Jefferson City prison was the largest prison in the United states. It housed famous convicts such as Sonny Liston, gangster Pretty Boy Floyd and the murderer of Martin Luther King Jr., James Earl Ray. One of the scarier tourist spots is the underground dungeon cells where prisoners were kept in solitary confinement.

      We went down in the dungeon," Prison tourist Bill Nitchals said. "It TMs a dark place. I wouldn TMt want to be there. It was bigger than what I expected. Thirty people could go in there.

      There TMs a new four-hour tour this year that allows you to go into several other housing units including the women TMs prison unit. Visitors can also see where 40 people died in the old prison TMs gas chamber.

      Nobody really has an opportunity to go inside a prison," Jefferson City Convention & Visitors Bureau Spokeswoman Sarah Stroesser said. "Not many people in the general public have that opportunity. People have that morbid curiosity about going in there and seeing what life is like inside a penitentiary.

      Last year, more than 3,000 people took the tour. This year, tour guides expect to host more than 10,000 people by October.

      Click on the link below for tour information.