5 Times That Old Idaho Penitentiary Has Been Featured on National TV
Boise is full of history. The Oregon Trail literally runs through the middle of town. There's the Pioneer Village at the Idaho State Museum and the Basque Cultural Center. There's the Boise Diversion Dam and the Boise Depot, and what is now the most famous of our historical sites, the Old Idaho Penitentiary.
The Old Idaho Penitentiary wasn't a place you wanted to be. It was not an easy life to be incarcerated there. Being locked up there meant you had done some pretty bad stuff, and the conditions weren't exactly comfortable. Imagine being locked up in a prison opened in the 1870s that never went through a remodel. This was an operating prison until the early '70s when a riot broke out amongst the prisoners, who eventually burned down several buildings.
The unbelievable history of this prison that ran for over 100 years in Boise is what has given it a mystique, but that's not why it's been featured on National television. Any building that has been home to so many evil people and the location of so many horrific acts must be home to something more sinister as well. It's that darker side of history that has brought the Old Idaho Penitentiary a different kind of reputation.
It started when Zak Baggins started his show Ghost Adventures. Looking for historical locations that would visually make for great television. After interviewing employees of what is now a museum, he filmed his investigation. The show captured a ton of paranormal activity, and the legend of the old prison grew to National fame.
Since then, four other shows have used the Old Idaho Penitentiary as a backdrop for ghostly reality television. Six years after Ghost Adventures, PBS and the Antiques Roadshow featured the prison in the second Boise episode of its 18th season.
In 2017, Rob Lowe and his son John Owen did an A&E show, The Lowe Files on the Old Idaho Penitentiary.
Next, in 2019, the Travel Channel filmed two shows in Boise's most popular haunt. Destination Fear and Haunted Towns.
The full episodes are highly entertaining and are highly recommended. If you ever visit the Penitentiary, you'll be glad that you watched these first. It makes the visit a lot scarier and a lot more fun.