On June 12, 1962, guards discovered three prisoners had escaped from their cells on the infamous island prison of Alcatraz, California. The men were the only prisoners ever to have escaped from Alcatraz, although there is no evidence they escaped the turbulent, icy waters of the San Francisco Bay.
 
The three bank robbers (Frank Lee Morris, Clarence Anglin, and John Anglin) had planned their escape in precise detail. They collected hair from the prison barbershop, and kept soap and toilet paper. With these materials, they created masks of their own faces. The crude masks were realistic enough to fool guards checking the bunks at night.
 
The prisoners had spent a year tunneling through their concrete cells using sharpened spoons. The tunnels led to a ventilation shaft, which then led to the roof. The men climbed down a pipe to the rugged shore of “The Rock.” They made a flimsy, homemade raft out of raincoats and either driftwood or quick-dry cement.
 
The raincoat raft eventually washed up on nearby Angel Island, but no trace of the prisoners was ever found.  Although Alcatraz is just over a kilometer (nearly a mile) from the city of San Francisco, the cold currents of San Francisco Bay are strong and dangerous. Few historians think the men could have survived.
cement
Noun

hard material used as a building material or a binding agent for stronger building materials such as concrete.

concrete
Noun

hard building material made from mixing cement with rock and water.

crude
Adjective

basic or raw.

Noun

steady, predictable flow of fluid within a larger body of that fluid.

driftwood
Noun

pieces of wood that have traveled on currents in a body of water and drifted on shore.

escape
Verb

to get away.

eventually
Adverb

at some point in the future.

evidence
Noun

data that can be measured, observed, examined, and analyzed to support a conclusion.

flimsy
Adjective

weak or ineffective.

infamous
Adjective

having a very bad reputation.

precise
Adjective

exact.

prison
Noun

buildings that house convicted criminals and people accused of a crime and awaiting trial.

rugged
Adjective

having an irregular or jagged surface.

shaft
Noun

underground tunnel.

shore
Noun

coast.

survive
Verb

to live.

turbulent
Adjective

violent or chaotic.

ventilation
Noun

movement or circulation of fresh air in a closed environment. Also called air circulation.

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