Abandoned Atlanta: Old Atlanta Prison Farm
In the Metro-Atlanta area sits approximately 400 acres of abandoned land. The Old Atlanta Prison Farm (APF) operated as a correctional facility from 1945-1995. The APF was a 700+-bed detention facility housing minor criminals with the potential for vocational training. The area included a large main building with a smaller administration building. The land was used for agricultural purposes. At its peak, the APF housed 1,000 inmates. The working farm ran a dairy, raised livestock, and canned vegetables. There was also a commissary and barber shop on the grounds.
In 1940, a bumper crop of 7,000 bushels of corn was harvested. Further, Superintendent H.H. Gibson is pictured calling the hogs and stating: “…this year 12,954 pounds of fresh pork have been consumed and 44,609 pounds have been sold to packing houses, while 240 pigs are being fattened on kitchen waste and corn.” Every able-bodied incarcerated person was required to work on the terraced farm and pasture land. Operations ceased in 1995.
Today the predicament is that the land is owned by the City of Atlanta (Fulton County); however, the acreage is situated in DeKalb County. Apparently, neither governmental entity wants to take ownership. When a fire broke out in 2009, it was reported that the DeKalb Fire Department refused to respond and let the fire rage until it burnt itself out.
With any abandoned property, the rumors and half-truths run rampant. According to an Atlanta Journal Constitution article an elephant named Maud and Willie B., an early gorilla, both from the Atlanta Zoo are buried on the property. There is an unsubstantiated claim that an unnamed giraffe is also buried on the property.
Plans for a possible green space have stalled. And that’s unfortunate. If realized, the green space total more than Piedmont Park (189 acres), Grant Park (131 acres), and Centennial Olympic Park (21 acres) combined!
Investigation: The weather was extremely cooperative the day I visited. There were other people walking through the buildings as well. It seems to be a popular place for photo shoots. Limiting our time to the two main buildings, we were able to capture some orbs down in the back hallway where individual cells are. My Ghost Radar was extremely active in the main entrance and stairwell. I collected 25 words. And the radar detected over 240 signals!
The best part of the investigation had nothing to do with the paranormal. Some of the graffiti is stunning. Some humorous. Most juvenile. Delve deep to find the true gems—and maybe the homeless man sleeping on one of the metal bunks.
Visits: The Old Atlanta Prison Farm is located on Key Road SE. Depending on your point of entry, two large spooky trees sit by a dirt road. This is the road that leads to the main buildings. I recommend going during the daytime since there is a great deal of debris on the ground.