Crime enthusiasts, news buffs, and history lovers will enjoy the new additions to Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge, beginning this Spring. The area’s newest attraction intrigues visitors 365 days a year on what's considered America's favorite subject. In order to attract Pigeon Forge's repeat visitors, the museum rotates items from its collection annually. This year, Alcatraz East has added interactive exhibits as well as new artifacts. The additions give visitors a chance to share their stories and test their skills, while the new artifacts expand exhibits on Jesse James, Charles Manson, and kidnapping victim Jaycee Dugard.
“We have already experienced that visitors to this area come several times throughout the year, and we want to make sure they keep coming back to see us as well,” states Janine Vaccarello, chief operating officer. “We are happy to offer a place where visitors not only learn, but also remember and feel touched and inspired to get involved in crime prevention. With some of our additions, our guests will have the opportunity to share some of their own stories."
The museum's visitors are fascinated to see authentic artifacts, such as the white Bronco from the infamous O.J. Simpson police chase and Ted Bundy's VW Bug. Others come to learn more about crime in American culture and the background of our law enforcement system. The museum offers something for everyone, including plenty of hands-on experiences.
There are several new interactive exhibits that have opened, including:
- The ability to test your pirate skills at tying knots.
- Share your own 9/11 experiences.
- Thank law enforcement with a personal message. Those who may be interested in saying thank you to a particular officer or department can log onto their website to submit their story for display in the museum.
This spring, the crime museum has also added numerous exciting artifacts to their collection, including:
James Gang, Hite Revolvers – These two revolvers were used by James Gang members and cousins of Jesse and Frank James, Clarence and Robert “Wood” Hite. They rode with Jesse during his last days, until Wood Hite was murdered by Robert Ford, who also killed Jesse four months later.
Charles Manson Guitar & Beach Boys album “20/20” - This guitar was taken into custody in Inyo County California, during a raid on the Barker Ranch when Charles Manson was also arrested. The Tate-LaBianca Murders had taken place roughly two months before. In 1969, the song “Never Learn Not to Love” appeared on the Beach Boys album credited to Dennis Wilson, although Manson had originated the song under the name “Cease to Exist."
Sheriff Richard Allen “Smoot” Schmid (1897 – 1963) Cowboy Boots - The four term Dallas County sheriff was 6’ 5 ½” with size 14 shoe. Dallas was home turf to Bonnie and Clyde, and Schmid set up an ambush on Nov 22, 1933 when they planned to meet their families. The duo escaped that night, slightly wounded.
Family Photos of Jaycee Dugard, Original “Jaycee Lee” recordings and flyers - In the summer of 1991, Jaycee Lee Dugard was kidnapped while walking to her school bus stop. A song was written by local radio DJ Larry Williams, featuring Jaycee’s mother Terry speaking to her daughter, and sales supported the continued search efforts. The exhaustive search went on for years. Jaycee was found and rescued in 2009.
- Foxcatcher Medal - Foxcatcher Farm was the name of the estate and wrestling facility owned by wealthy heir John du Pont. On January 26, 1996, he shot and killed one of his Team Foxcatcher coaches and former Olympic gold medalist Dave Schultz.
“We like our visitors to see different pieces from our collection,” added Vaccarello. “Walking through the museum you get a sense of gratitude for those who fight crime, as well as a desire to help victims, we feel honored to share the stories.”
Alcatraz East Crime Museum is located at the entrance to The Island, at 2757 Parkway in Pigeon Forge, near the Margaritaville Hotel and Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen. Guests can also enjoy free parking available at The Island during their visit. The museum has a star-studded panel of experts who make up the Advisory Board, including those in law enforcement, collectors, a medical examiner, crime scene investigators, and others. The board includes Jim Willett, a retired prison warden, Anthony Rivera, a combat veteran and Navy SEAL chief, and Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., who is best known for the Casey Anthony trial.
General admission tickets are $14.95 for children, $24.95 for adults. Group ticket sales are available. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the last ticket sold 60 minutes before closing. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit: www.alcatrazeast.com.