Cambria County Jail

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Cambria County Jail
Cambria County Jail original and 1910 extension.JPG
Cambria County Jail, September 2014
Cambria County Jail is located in Pennsylvania
Cambria County Jail
Location in Pennsylvania
Cambria County Jail is located in the United States
Cambria County Jail
Location in United States
LocationN. Center and Sample Sts., Ebensburg, Pennsylvania
Coordinates40°29′11″N 78°43′34″W / 40.48639°N 78.72611°W / 40.48639; -78.72611Coordinates: 40°29′11″N 78°43′34″W / 40.48639°N 78.72611°W / 40.48639; -78.72611
Area1.6 acres (0.65 ha)
Built byWilliam Callan
ArchitectEdward Haviland
Architectural styleGothic Revival
NRHP reference No.80003450[1]
Added to NRHPJune 30, 1980

Cambria County Jail is a historic jail located in downtown Ebensburg, Cambria County, Pennsylvania.


In April of 1870 the Cambria Freeman newspaper wrote, "[T]he commissioners of Cambria County purchased from Mrs. E.J. McDonald a square of land bounded by Centre [sic], Crawford, and Sample streets on which to erect the proposed new county prison. The price was $2,500."[2]

Critics in Johnstown referred to it as a "Welsh castle" in ridicule, which was also a knock on Ebensburg's Welsh roots.[3]

In the spring of 1997 the "Old Stone Jail" was abandoned for a new facility and temporarily was turned into a records center in a $400,000 project.[4]

Escape of Michael "Smitty" Smith[edit]

Convicted in 1884 of killing a man from Johnstown, Smitty was set to be hung the next day. But after leaving a farewell letter to the warden, he managed to escape. Smitty would have been the fourth execution at the jail.[5] He was never found. Reenactments of how Smitty may have escaped have been performed and his cell was the site of an exhibition hosted by the Cambria County Historical Society which included a recreated noose by his height and weight.[6]


Photo from a postcard of the Cambria County Jail.

It was built in 1872, and is a Gothic Revival style sandstone building measuring 56 feet wide, 100 feet deep, and 60 feet tall. An addition, (a new cell block) was built in 1910. The front façade features pointed drop arch windows and a pointed arch portal. The building also has a tower.[7]

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.[1]

In the media[edit]


The Cambria County Jail was featured as a haunted location on the season 3 episode of Paranormal Lockdown, titled "Old Cambria Jail", which aired on Destination America in 2018. Paranormal investigators Nick Groff and Katrina Weidman spent 72-hours locked down in the jail to investigate the legend Michael "Smitty" Smith, an inmate who mysteriously disappeared from a locked cell on the night of his execution in 1884.[8]

The Travel Channel's television show Destination Fear filmed at the location for the fifth episode of their second season in 2020.


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ "The Old Cambria County Jail - Behind the Stone Wall 1870-1970, Cambria County Historical Society". Cambria Freeman. April 28, 1870.
  3. ^ "Cambria County Jail reopens as a museum". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. January 6, 2002.
  4. ^ "Unknown, Cambria County Historical Society". The Tribune-Democrat. November 26, 1998.
  5. ^ Evans, Susan (August 6, 2004). "Gallows Tale". The Tribune Democrat.
  6. ^ Conrad, Hugh (August 2, 2004). "Bicentennial group recreates escape". The Tribune Democrat.
  7. ^ "National Historic Landmarks & National Register of Historic Places in Pennsylvania" (Searchable database). CRGIS: Cultural Resources Geographic Information System. Note: This includes Mary Ann O'Donnell Parfitt (n.d.). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Cambria County Jail" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-12-06.
  8. ^ "Old Cambria Jail | Paranormal Lockdown".

External links[edit]

Media related to Cambria County Jail (Ebensburg, Pennsylvania) at Wikimedia Commons