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Missouri State Penitentiary

Certificate of Excellence
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Address: 115 Lafayette St., Jefferson City, MO 65101
Phone Number:
+1 866-998-6998

The Missouri State Penitentiary (MSP) opened in 1836 along the banks of the...

The Missouri State Penitentiary (MSP) opened in 1836 along the banks of the Missouri River in Jefferson City, Missouri, the state capital. The prison housed inmates for 168 years and was the oldest continually operating prison west of the Mississippi until it was decommissioned in 2004. The prison was already 100 years old when Alcatraz began taking inmates.The Jefferson City Convention & Visitors Bureau now offers a wide variety of tours at the site, once named the "bloodiest 47 acres in America" by Time magazine. Visitors can choose to take a History or Ghost Tour, among others, and will walk through several incredibly historic housing units, the vast upper yard of the property and the gas chamber, where 40 men and women were executed. The tour also showcases cells of infamous inmates such as Sonny Liston, who learned to box during his time in the big house and James Earl Ray, who escaped from MSP before assassinating Martin Luther King Jr.

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 374 reviews
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  • 272
  • 79
    Very good
  • 11
  • 8
  • 2
47 Bloodiest Acres

What a fascinating place! Great tour of a prison that got its start in the 1830s. Well worth it for the whole family. We even saw the gas chamber. Heard some great history... read more

5 of 5 bubblesReviewed 5 days ago
Liz B
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
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374 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 372: English reviews
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Level Contributor
31 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 days ago NEW

What a fascinating place! Great tour of a prison that got its start in the 1830s. Well worth it for the whole family. We even saw the gas chamber. Heard some great history about the history of the prison.

Thank Liz B
Jefferson City, Missouri
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 14 February 2017

This place was in existence 100 years before Alcatraz came into being. This is where Sonny Liston trained to be a fighter and there is still a mural on the rock wall honoring him. The conditions were inhumane and the dungeon really is a place with no light - scary.

Thank schroer2837
Level Contributor
22 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 26 January 2017

I have gone three times and each tour guide has their own way of telling the history of the mostly mens penitentiary. We had a chance to watch Shawshank on the grounds, that was cool. they also had a country music star hold a concert inside the walls which was fun. don't forget to use your stub to walk across... More 

1 Thank J.c. H
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 January 2017 via mobile

My family and friends took the ghost tour. It had a good blend of history and frights. Highly recommended.

1 Thank Brandon M
Level Contributor
43 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 December 2016 via mobile

We went here for a private tour and we absolutely loved it. The person in charge of the tour was extremely knowledgeable and made our experience wonderful. Definitely a must go see. We will go back later for the ghost tour sometime in the near future.

1 Thank Twitchman1
Saint Peters, Missouri
Level Contributor
18 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 December 2016

This was such a great tour to take and very informative. The tour guide, who was a former guard, made the tour that much better. He was extremely knowledgeable about the penitentiary and you could see his passion as he spoke about the details, past inmates, and the history of the penitentiary in general. I did the 3 hours in-depth... More 

2 Thank Sarah M
Sheila S, Manager at Missouri State Penitentiary, responded to this review

If you would like to call our office, we can ship items out from the souvenir store. Our office number is 866-998-6998 (Mon-Fri 8-5). More 

Overland Park, KS
Level Contributor
211 reviews
89 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 125 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 November 2016

Came to Jefferson City from Kansas City area to spend the w/e and do a couple of tours. This Penitentiary Tour is just wonderful. It was over 2 hours with highlights on several of the buildings, the dungeon and the gas chamber. Our guide Bill was extremely knowledgable with dates and details just rolling off his tongue ... and he... More 

Thank KansasTravelers
Level Contributor
93 reviews
45 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 24 November 2016

I did the 2 hour history tour and found it very cool and interesting. The tour guide was the previous warden of the prison! He had many interesting, funny and also awful stories from his time there. On this tour, you are faced with many uncomfortable truths about the previous and current state of the prison system. You get to... More 

Thank T Alexander L
Overland Park, Kansas
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 November 2016

My husband and I toured M.S.P. last weekend. We did the 3 hour tour. Gary (former prison guard) was our tour guide. He was fantastic! He had awesome stories to tell and was very knowledgeable. He truly loves giving this tour. You get to see quite a bit of the prison and you get a little extra time to roam... More 

1 Thank JBing05
Columbia, Missouri
Level Contributor
22 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 15 November 2016

We visited the Penitentiary on Veterans' Day. Our Tour guide, Bill, was a prison guard at the prison for 30 years so he had interesting observations and stories during the tour. He was also enthralled with the history of the prison so he was well read on the buildings and the people that were interned there. We did the 2... More 

Thank KittyGattino

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