Read these handwritten 9/11 stories from Alcatraz East guests

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A note that reads "Ground Zero / One of the lucky ones" (photo by Alaina O'Neal/

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September 11, 2001 was a day that Americans will never forget. 

I remember being in school when my teacher frantically rolled out the TV as we all silently watched — scared, confused and devastated.

Ask any American old enough to remember, and they can tell you exactly where they were when they heard the news. Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge allows guests to share their story. 

The museum has an entire room dedicated to commemorating the attacks on 9/11 as part of their Notorious History of American Crime section. It includes a wall of notes from people recalling the day.

“I’m a truck driver that helped in the clean up of Ground Zero, ” says a note signed from Chris P. “Will never forget.” 

One note simply says, “Ground Zero / One of the lucky ones,” signed by Regina B., retired NYPD sergeant.

A note that says, “I was dispatched to ground zero after the attack. I was there when Building 7 collapsed. I lost several colleagues and childhood friends that day.” (photo by Alaina O’Neal/
A note that reads, “I’m a truck driver that helped in the clean up of Ground Zero. Will never forget.” (photo by Alaina O’Neal/

The room contains a seating area with a video about the attack as well as other memorabilia, including first responder uniforms, letters and pieces of carnage.

This room is dark, humbling and chilling — but it’s important to never forget. 

Forensic Expert to speak at Alcatraz about 9/11  

On September 12, 2020, Alcatraz East will feature local guest speaker Art Bohanan, a forensic expert who was part of the World Trade Center response team following the attacks on 9/11. He will be sharing his insights and experiences on the disaster response at Ground Zero. 

Bohanan was part of the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team that was sent to the World Trade Center. He arrived there on September 12, 2001.  

Bohanan is a Sevier County native who was a senior forensic examiner for 26 years with the Knoxville Police Department.

Guests can hear his talk on Sept. 12 at 12 pm, 1:30 pm, or 3 pm. This program is included free with museum admission. Seating is based on availability.

Inside the 9/11 memorial
Inside the 9/11 memorial space at Alcatraz East Crime Museum (photo by Alaina O’Neal/

How to get $10 admission with Local Appreciation Days 

Now through Sept. 27, 2020, locals can enjoy a special admission price to the Alcatraz East Crime Museum with Local Appreciation Days.

Bring a canned food item to get the $10 admission rate. The canned food will benefit the Sevier County Food Ministries, and the discounted rate will be offered with local ID to residents of Sevier, Knox, Cocke, Blount, Jefferson and Hamblen counties.

“We encourage the community to give back by collecting food for the local pantry in this difficult time for some of our neighbors,” said Candice Cook, director of operations at Alcatraz East.

Sevier County Food Ministries, which helped more than 5,700 local families in 2019, provides local families with food bags containing free, hot meals.

“Pigeon Forge is a busy place with lots of visitors, but we always enjoy saying hi to our neighbors and showing them what’s inside the walls,” said Cook. “This is a great month for locals to stop in and see what’s new.”

This year Alcatraz East is also featuring a temporary exhibit in partnership with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, featuring some of their most famous cases and work they do across the state every day. 

Read Also: Alcatraz East review: A fascinating crime museum with little on Alcatraz

Display case
A display case in the 9/11 section of the museum (photo by Alaina O’Neal/

New 2020 safety measures at Alcatraz East

Alcatraz East Crime Museum has new safety measures in place, including a new mascot named “Doc” (law enforcement lingo for Department of Corrections). Throughout the museum, people will see signage and friendly safety reminders from Doc. 

The museum’s updated safety measures include reduced hours, enhanced cleaning, spatial distancing protocols, employee health screenings and employee PPE. Guests are encouraged to review all safety rules prior to their visit. 

About Alcatraz East

Alcatraz East Crime 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, retired prison warden
  • Anthony Rivera, combat veteran and Navy SEAL chief
  • Judge Belvin Perry Jr., best known for the Casey Anthony trial

This family attraction is located at the entrance of The Island, 2757 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN. General admission tickets are $14.95 for children and $26.95 for adults.

Group ticket sales are available, and guests are encouraged to check the website prior to visiting to review the reduced hours. The last ticket is sold 60 minutes before closing. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit their website at

Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at for questions or comments.


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