The Old County Franklin Jail Overnight Ghost Hunt: Tips, Information, and My Personal Experience
I’ll be the first to admit that I love visiting locations with so much history, I’m a nerd like that. Though I’m more of a skeptic than a believer, I’ll also be the first to admit that I do enjoy a ghost hunt. Sometimes, I crave that paranormal and enigmatic realm. It’s very intriguing and puts forth a challenge to see if we’re able to make sense of ghosts and to definitely prove their existence.
When my curiosity for the paranormal and nerdiness for history come together in one place, you know I have to check it out! Since I had a very good experience with Ghost Hunts USA at the Cresson Sanatorium & Prison overnight ghost hunt, I went ahead and booked myself another one!
This time around, I decided to do a overnight investigation at The Old County Franklin Jail in Chambersburg, PA.
How I found this place: Ghost Hunts USA
How did I find out about this place? On Facebook, I saw multiple ads on my timeline for Ghost Hunts USA. In every state, they have multiple “haunted” locations where you can do overnight paranormal investigations. If you’re trying to get into exploring abandoned, and or haunted, places but don’t want to do it completely on your own, this is a great company to go through.
How Ghost Hunts USA works
As I mentioned, Ghost Hunts USA hosts a selection of “haunted” locations across the country. Depending on the size of the location and groups, anywhere from 2 to 6 team members are present. They check you in, discuss the rules of the company everyone must adhere to.
The team members also go over how the overnight ghost hunt works, when you can explore on your own, and where to explore. This is because some buildings are off limits or in such a bad state, it’s dangerous for anyone to enter.
After the logistics, they take you through the buildings, discuss its history, and conduct a short investigation. Each team member in separate buildings or sections goes over the types of communication devices one can use to communicate with spirits. You rotate team members but your actual group remains the same. This continues until you’ve visited all the available buildings or sections and team members.
Once it’s “free time”, the team takes a back seat while you do your own investigation and exploration. Depending on the event and location, your free time may vary. Some places have a later end time, while other locations end earlier in the night. Overall, you’ll have at least a couple of hours to explore the premises on your own…IF YOU DARE.
When it’s time to leave, you take your belongings, sign out, and go home.
Related Post: Tips for Visiting Pennhurst Asylum
The booking process
You go to the Ghost Hunts USA website and click on either the site you want to visit or the state you live in. I opted to click on the state I live in, Pennsylvania. If you click on a state, a list of haunted sites will appear and you can chose from the list. In PA, there’s currently 8 locations to chose from. At the time I booked this event (in early 2022), there were only about 5 locations to chose from. I assume they add and take away locations from time to time.
You click on a location, which takes you to a page with information on the location. The list of information includes:
- the price of the event
- the event availability
- history of the premise
- what the overnight ghost hunt entails (what you’ll be doing)
- the event start and end time
- driving directions and address of the location
Though the event availability formatting looks different from the one I had used in early 2022, it’s nonetheless the same concept. Scroll through the months to see when the next events are. It’ll show you the day, date, and start time. Usually, from what I’ve seen, events occur from Friday to Sunday. When you find the right one for you, click on it and proceed to the checkout!
The cost of the overnight ghost hunt
The total amount for this ghost hunt was $130. Ghost hunts in different locations, which are conducted at varying times, will vary in cost.
When paying for this event, you have two options. You can pay a $30 deposit, then pay the rest off another time. Or, you can pay the total cost upfront. I decided to go with the former by paying the $30 deposit back in May of 2022. Then, in August, I paid the remaining balance of $100.
Old County Franklin Jail Information
Back in May of 2022, after paying the deposit for my Cresson Sanatorium & Prison overnight ghost hunt, I immediately paid the $30 deposit for the Old County Franklin Jail. The date for this event was September 10th and it went from 7pm on the 10th to 12am on the 11th of September.
This was definitely a shorter overnight investigation. But to be fair, the jail is a very small place. It has three floors, a courtyard, and a small basement. You can go through the whole place in about an hour at most, if you’re going real slow. Some information about the location is:
- it’s located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
- address: 175 E King St., Chambersburg, PA 17201
- there’s a parking lot on the side of the building
- there’s a small museum in the front entrance to the building
Included in the overnight ghost hunt was:
- use of bathrooms inside the building
- access to some of the museum rooms
- snacks, coffee, and water
- ghost hunting equipment
You were covered on all fronts with the ghost hunt. The company ensured that we all had plenty of refreshments to keep us going throughout the night and bathrooms for us to relieve ourselves.
Located in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, the Old County Franklin Jail was built in 1818. It housed many criminals, such as thieves and murders. The premises even has gallows out in the courtyard, which was used to hang convicted criminals from the jail. Though, around 1920, the gallows were not in use and remained that way for the duration of the jail’s active years.
After being in use for over 150 years, in 1971 the jail was no longer active. Nowadays, the jail houses the Franklin County Historical Society. Inside the building, near the front, there’s a museum. It showcases Franklin County and the long history of the jail, and everything which happened in and around it.
A cool thing about some of the rooms on the first floor are the scratch writings on the walls. These were done by the criminals inside their cells, counting the days they’ve been inside the jail. During the day, you can purchase a ticket to explore the museum on the first floor. Or, you can wait until your overnight ghost hunt and walk through some of the museum rooms in the dark.
The overnight ghost hunt experience
The event start time was at 7pm but just like Cresson, we had to arrive 15 minutes early to get checked in. There’s a parking lot next to the jail but it’s a shared parking lot with a church. The parking lot wasn’t full when I was there, so I’m sure you won’t have any issues with parking. If so, there’s street parking and parking lots further down the street.
I arrived around 6:30pm, because I wanted to have extra time to eat and set up my camera. Once it was about 6:45pm, I made my way to the building. I was the first one there, so I took that opportunity to get some footage and pictures of the building.
Once the doors opened, it took about a minute to get checked in. Be sure to have your ticket on hand and your waiver done before hand. If not, they have waivers on hand, so no need to worry. The staff directed us to this little room with chairs and refreshments in it. We sat there and waited for more people to arrive, to be put into groups, and to go over the rules of Ghost Hunts USA.
After all the formalities were done, we went into the yard as a group to discuss some of the jail’s history. It began to rain, so we didn’t stay for long. We then went into the building to the cells to conduct our group investigation. It wasn’t nearly as dark, because it was still early-ish in the day. Didn’t give that much of a creepy vibe but that’s ok.
Rotation 1: Old 1880 Cell
This ghost event had a pretty small group, compared to Cresson. I’d say there were about 30 people, give or take a few. There were only two staff members running the whole event, so we were split in half with our assigned color groups.
The first rotation I was in was the old 1880 cell. This cell block was added in 1880, meaning it wasn’t part of the original jail design. The staff member asked us to stand in a circle while she described the two earliest forms of communication with ghosts: dowsing rods and pendulums.
Once the demonstration of the rods and pendulums was done, she gave each of us a pendulum or dowsing rod. She then gave us a folded piece of paper and asked us keep it folded until we were told to open it. When it was time to open it, it contained a personal question about the staff member. We used our dowsing rods and pendulums to ask the spirits the question, so we could receive a “yes” or “no” answer. I got my answer correct. When we had an answer, the staff member answered the questions and compared the “ghost’s” answers with hers.
We then moved up onto the second floor of the block to talk about light and touch sensitive objects. And, of course, how they’re used to communicate with spirits. A cat ball (lights up when touched), REM Pod, and flashlight were situated at each cell door, or inside the cell itself. We then attempted to seek communication with spirits and see if any of the objects would light up. Though at some points the lights went off, other times it did not. But that’s how it goes with ghost hunting.
Rotation 2: The Dungeon
With the first rotation complete, we rotated and went with the other staff person. Funny enough, this man was also at the Cresson ghost hunt and he led the dowsing rods and pendulum demonstrations. We recognized each other from the other event and got to talking before starting our next set of group investigations.
The second rotation consisted of us heading into the basement or “the dungeon”. As you can imagine, criminals were kept there during the jail’s active time. However, it’s also said that the basement cells were used to house runaway slaves for the underground railroad.
The next spirit communication device the staff leader showed us was the spirit box. He gave a demonstration of how it worked and discussed how it scans radio frequencies and picks up signals which can be heard. From there, in the dark, we asked multiple questions to see if we could get answers. Though we did hear some words being said, I don’t recall any audible or coherent answers.
We took a break to get some refreshments before starting our free time! Free time is where you can go off on your own to explore and conduct your own investigation. Though, we weren’t allowed to go into the manager’s office and one other room in the museum portion. Besides that, we had free reign! As long as no doorways or sections were locked or blocked off.
I started my solo exploration and investigation by going out into the courtyard by the gallows. I figured there’d be a bit of paranormal activity there, considering the hangings that occurred. However, it was still raining at the time. I didn’t bring my GoPro, I only had my Lumix GH5, so I couldn’t stay outside for long.
With the yard a bust, I decided to go into the cell block. I walked the length of the block, on each floor, in the dark. On the second floor, I stopped and conducted a mini investigation with my pendulum. I managed to get a few yes and no answers from it, which was cool. I’d say the weirdest part was when I was filming the cell window. It looked like there was a black figure that walked past the window. I thought it was a person at first but shortly afterward, another person did walk by and make noise. That black figure I saw was silent but bold in shape and I could clearly see it.
Finally, I went into the small basement to try and conduct a mini investigation. However, there were other people in each of the small spaces. I went into one and tried to conduct an investigation but there was too much commotion from other people. I couldn’t get enough stillness and peace to truly communicate with anything that may have been down there. After roaming about the remainder of the space, I went up to the first floor to check out the small cell rooms in the museum portion. This was the final thing I did before leaving around 10pm.
Honestly, I wasn’t that impressed with the Old County Jail. I found the place to be very small with little to no activity going on. Though, I can’t fault the physical size of the jail, as it was built during the 1800’s and it was meant to be a small jail for the community. I felt like there wasn’t much going on here.
One pro is that I, and others that attended, were the first group to do a overnight ghost hunt. This location was recently added to Ghost Hunts USA, so the site itself was brand new even to the staff. I found that pretty cool, it was new and unspoiled.
Another pro is that the jail is relatively small and surrounded by other sites in Chambersburg. It’s not like Cresson, where you’re out in the middle of nowhere, isolated from the community. You didn’t feel that same isolation. Though, depending on the person you are, that could be a pro or con.
Moving onto the next pro, I felt that the whole event was more intimate because of the smaller size. I was able to talk with almost everyone there and rotations were easy. There were only two staff members running the event, which made the operation smooth. Plus, there were actual bathrooms inside the place. No need to go outside, in the dark, to use a porter-potty.
A con is that, like I mentioned, the jail is small. I felt very cramped in there and when it was free time, I couldn’t find a private area to conduct my investigation. Someone was always around you, making noise, or walking by. You couldn’t be alone.
Another con is that there really wasn’t much activity, at least the night we were there. besides getting a few answers from my pendulum, and possibly seeing a dark figure, there wasn’t much else. There weren’t as many group demonstrations and the ones we did have, it seemed as though the spirits didn’t want to communicate or interact with us.
Unfortunately, this made my overall experience at the Old County Franklin Jail uneventful and somewhat forgetful. To be honest, I don’t really remember much of what we did as a group or what I did on my own. I guess the lack of activity didn’t make this event truly stick in my mind.
Would I recommend this activity?
If you’re looking to explore an alleged haunted location, this one may or may not be the one for you. In my opinion, there are other cool locations like Pennhurst or Cresson, where you can experience some sort of paranormal activity. There’s more buildings and space to explore, the vibe is creepier, and the buildings are more dilapidated.
However, just because not much happened while I was there, doesn’t mean there’s no activity. Since we were the first people to do a ghost hunt on site, maybe the spirits didn’t want to communicate with us. Maybe they needed some time to warm up to people being there and interacting with them. Therefore, it’s hard to say if the lack of activity is a consistent thing or if it’s a once in a while thing.
The staff members did say that others in the past (with the museum and in the previous decades) have experienced paranormal activity. Even the one staff member said he had experienced something touring the place prior to leading the event. So, activity is possible but not a guarantee. But that’s the nature of ghost hunting in general; the evidence or activity is not a given but rather based on luck and the right conditions.
Overall, if you’d like to give the Old County Franklin Jail a chance, I’d say go for it. See if you’re able to experience any paranormal happenings. If nothing happens, at least you got to explore a cool, old jail with lots of history.
Tips for the overnight ghost hunt at Old County Franklin Jail
If you’re looking to visit the Old County Franklin Jail for their overnight ghost hunt, here are a few tips to make your investigation a great one!
- bring a flashlight – it’s dark in the cell blocks, basement, and courtyard
- bring layers – it gets chilly or cold at night
- bring an umbrella or rain coat – in case it rains
- bring your own equipment – if you have any
- bring a camera or your phone – what’s the point of a ghost hunt if you don’t get any evidence!?
- be open to new possibilities – keep an open mind
- be aware of your surroundings – it’s very dark, so watch your footing
- stay hydrated and eat when you can – it’s a long night and you’ll need your energy!
I hope this helps and if you go on your own overnight ghost hunt at the Old County Franklin Jail, stay safe and enjoy the ghost hunt!