Fascinated by true crime and police work? The Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, is a great stop on your visit to the Smoky Mountains, with a unique look through American crime history – from the Salem Witch Trials to gunslingers of the West, prohibition and organized crime to the O.J. Simpson chase and trial, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and white-collar crime.
The adventure begins outside with the museum building designed as a prison with guard towers inspired by the Alcatraz lighthouse in San Francisco, modern-day watch towers and an inmate trying to escape!
Alcatraz East blends design features of both Tennessee’s first prison and Alcatraz. In 1898, the Tennessee State Prison, was the first prison in the state, opened just outside of Nashville. The prison was designed to look like a castle with thick stone and masonry walls. The Tennessee prison is now abandoned and closed in 1992, is still standing.
Inside the 25,000 square-foot museum are two floors and over 100 interactives among the many galleries. “Five unique galleries burrow deep into the studies of criminal intent, criminal profiles, the penal system, victims, crime prevention, forensic science, law enforcement and the Judiciary Branch of government. “
A Notorious History of American Crime
This gallery features the evolution of crime and criminals, from greed-driven pirates and the Old West gunslingers to today’s white-collar criminals; events such as 9/11, whose exhibit includes some of the twisted metal from the Twin Towers in New York; and the infamous getaway cars exhibit, including the Bronco from the O.J. Simpson chase after his ex-wife and friend’s murders in Los Angeles 25 years ago.
Punishment: The Consequence of Crime
This gallery presents the “severe consequences of crime.” From a police lineup, to mug shots and a lie detector test. You also experience the cold iron bars and claustrophobia of a jail cell. Woah!
Learn how to solve crime through the use of forensic science, such as ballistics, DNA and blood analysis, fingerprinting, and facial reconstruction. Depending on your generation – think Quincy or Dexter!
The gallery showcases the huge network of law and law enforcement agencies and departments around the country. It tells the story about lawmen and lawwomen and the U.S. federal agencies – from local police officers, to famous lawmen, such as Eliot Ness – head of the “Untouchables” crime unit in Chicago and Sheriff Buford Pusser – known for his crime-busting clean up in McNAiry County, Tennessee. Learn about these folk and how they do these people do their job to protect citizens.
Counterfeit Crimes & Pop Culture
The world of counterfeit crimes includes everything from fake designer purses and watches purchased on Canal Street in NYC to more serious medication and electronics that can affect our lives.
The illegal traffic and sale of counterfeit goods is a trillion-dollar industry, according to the 2018 Global Brand Counterfeiting Report. The estimated losses due to counterfeiting of Clothing, Textile, Footwear, Cosmetics, handbags, and Watches amounted to 98 Billion USD which includes counterfeiting from offline as well as online mediums.
This gallery also features crimes related to entertainment figures and sports stars.
There’s so much more at the museum as well – from temporary exhibits, guest speakers, children’s activities and a gift shop called Jailhouse Junk.
On July 20, Alcatraz East plays host to true-crime investigative journalist Billy Jensen. “He’s been called the Facebook detective and a citizen sleuth and has built a solid reputation for helping to solve true crimes.”
Jensen will speak at a special small-group setting event on Saturday, July 20, at 9:30 a.m. The event is FREE with paid general admission.
“A true crime investigator, Billy Jensen has helped to solve 10 cases and is frequently contacted by law enforcement to assist on cases. He focuses on unsolved murders and missing person cases. He has spent over 20 years writing about and investigating true crime stories. He is also a writer and book author. Jensen has also written crime stories for Rolling Stone, Los Angeles Magazine and the Long Island Press, and was most recently a producer and investigator on the Warner Bros. show Crime Watch Daily, where he covered the Allenstown 4 murders, the Humboldt 5, the gap in the system when it comes to missing persons and unidentified remains and the unique talents of citizen detectives. His investigation into the wrongful conviction of Kimberly Long helped earn her release from prison. To learn more about Billy, visit his site at: https://billyjensen.com/
The entire museum is fascinating but there are also special sections and exhibits for children:
*Meet McGruff The Crime Dog: Get up close and personal with McGruff the Crime Dog.
*Become a Top Detective: Find Black Beard’s missing gold and ruby medallion and win a prize!
*Do you have what it takes to be a jewel thief? You can take “The Heist” laser challenge and find out.
Other children’s exhibits include (from the Museum Web site):
* The Pirate Life: Learn about pirates from the past
*Legends of the Old West: Learn about famous outlaws and lawmen
*Child Stops: Kid-friendly question-and-answer stops in the museum, installed at their eye-level, focusing on safety, cyberbullying, and internet etiquette
*Crack-a-Safe: Try your hand at breaking into a locked safe
*Police Line-Up: See what it’s like to be on the wrong side of the law
*Jail Cell: Witness the uncomfortable accommodations for prisoners, and see if you can escape
*CSI Gallery: Indulge an interest in science and learn how forensics are used to solve crimes
*Computer Interactives: Escape from Jail, De-activate a Bomb, How Observant Are You? And many more.
You can spend an entire day here – or a whole weekend!
Check out the temporary exhibits as you plan your Smoky Mountains trip!
Passion for Life: Nicole Brown Simpson
Speaking of O.J. Simpson, this exhibit is all about his ex-wife who was murdered.
Through Aug. 17
30th Anniversary of Ted Bundy’s Execution
Bundy was a serial killer who charmed women before killing them and had everyone fulled including colleagues at a rape crisis center where he volunteered. Fascinating!
Through August 2019.
The Second Amendment: A History
Also known as The Right to Bear Arms, the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted as part of the Bill of Rights in 1791. Explore its history at the Alcatraz East museum through September 2019.
Alcatraz Art Escape, starting Aug. 23 and going through May 1, 2020.
The Second Amendment: Conceal Carry, starting Sept. 25 and going through Sept. 2020.
Need More information? Check out the Crime Library at the Alcatraz East Crime Museum Web site – a searchable resource!
Rocks Around Town
As you walk around Pigeon Forge, be on the lookout for hidden rocks placed at The Island and other locations around town to test your observation and sleuthing skills. Take the rock to the museum to claim your tickets.
We offer discount tickets to the Alcatraz East Crime Museum
Adult (ages 13 & up) : $24.00 (Ticket Value: $28.00)
Seniors (60 & up) : $18.00 (Ticket Value: $21.17)
children (ages 6-12) : $14.50 (Ticket Value: $16.78)
Give us a call at 855.299.1316 to order tickets at up to 25% off for Alcatraz East Crime Museum and many other area attractions.
Alcatraz East Crime Museum is located at 2757 Parkway in Pigeon Forge. Reach the museum at 865.453.3278
Let American Patriot Getaways Help Plan Your Perfect Smokies Vacation
When you’re in the Smoky Mountains, there is an amazing variety of things to do. Let American Patriot Getaways help you plan a great visit and find the perfect cabin – whether you are looking for a family cabin, cabins close to Pigeon Forge, budget-friendly cabins or want a cabin for an event – we have a cabin for you!
Check out our Smoky Mountain Travel Guide for things to do the rest of the weekend including Dollywood and its Theme Park (open 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.) and Water Park (open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.) to keep you cool. We have discount tickets to many more attractions in the area.
Ready to book your adventure in the Smoky Mountains? Give American Patriot Getaways a call at 800-204-5169. Let our experts help you find the right cabin and all the right fun, food and entertainment for your July 4 celebration or anytime of the year.
You can also contact us online by searching our cabins in Gatlinburg and in Pigeon Forge. Check out our Pinterest boards if you want a cabin close to the fun and the food! See our boards where to eat in Gatlinburg and where to eat in Pigeon Forge.