If you’re a fan of true crime stories, be sure to add a visit to Alcatraz East to your vacation itinerary! This one-of-a-kind museum in Pigeon Forge, TN is dedicated to the history of crime and crime fighting in America. Guests at the Alcatraz East Crime Museum will have the chance to explore a number of interactive exhibits and see rare artifacts that belonged to some of the nation’s most notorious criminals. To help you prepare for your next getaway, Timber Tops Cabin Rentals is sharing five things you probably didn’t know about the Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge.
1. It Began as a D.C. Museum
Alcatraz East is the successor to the National Museum of Crime & Punishment, which was located in Washington D.C. Established in 2008, this popular museum once served as the studio for the TV show America’s Most Wanted. When the National Museum of Crime & Punishment closed in 2015, its owner John Morgan decided to open an even more ambitious attraction in Pigeon Forge.
2. Its Design is Based on Two Famous Prisons
The Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge boasts a unique design that is inspired by two iconic prisons. As you may have guessed, the museum is named after the notorious Alcatraz Island prison in San Francisco Bay and features guard towers that are reminiscent of the Alcatraz lighthouse. In fact, it was a visit to Alcatraz around twenty years ago that inspired John Morgan to start a crime museum. The Alcatraz East building also draws design elements from the first Tennessee State Prison, which was built outside of Nashville in 1898.
3. It is Home to the Ford Bronco from O.J. Simpson’s Car Chase
The most famous artifact at Alcatraz East is definitely the white Ford Bronco from the O.J. Simpson case. This vehicle was involved in an infamous low-speed car chase in 1994 when Simpson failed to turn himself in to the police after being named a person of interest in a murder case. An estimated 95 million people watched the car chase live on TV. O.J. Simpson’s former agent Mike Gilbert has said that “After the limo that JFK was shot in, this is the second-most-viewed car in American history.”
4. There is a Real Surveillance Van at the Museum
A highlight of Alcatraz East’s collection is a genuine undercover surveillance van that was used by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and a Georgia police department. For several years, the van played a vital role in active criminal investigations, including drug crimes and burglary stakeouts. When you visit Alcatraz East, you’ll have the chance to venture inside the surveillance van and check out the equipment used to monitor suspects.
5. Charles Manson’s Guitar is On Display
Another one of the most notable artifacts at Alcatraz East is a guitar that belonged to Charles Manson. In addition to being a murderous cult leader, Manson was also an aspiring musician who had a brief friendship with Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys. The famous California band even recorded a reworded version of a song penned by Manson, which they called “Never Learn Not to Love.” The guitar on display at Alcatraz East was seized from the Manson Family’s home at the Barker Ranch in Inyo County, California.
More About the Alcatraz East Crime Museum
The Alcatraz East Crime Museum is located at The Island in Pigeon Forge and allows visitors to explore American history from a different perspective. Its five unique galleries dive into criminal profiles, the penal system, victims’ stories, crime prevention, forensic science, law enforcement, and the justice system. Alcatraz East wants to offer something that the whole family can enjoy, which is why they have exhibits for the junior detectives too! Kids will love trying to break into a locked safe, computer interactives, and getting up close with McGruff the Crime Dog! You will love this unique opportunity to learn more about American crime history in this museum.
Where to Stay in Pigeon Forge
When you stay with Timber Tops Cabin Rentals, you will be just a short drive away from the Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge. With everything from 1 bedroom cabins to 15 bedroom lodges, we are guaranteed to have the perfect property for your escape. To start planning your vacation, browse our selection of cabin rentals in Pigeon Forge!