Monday, June 19, 2017

Wyoming Territorial Prison

Laramie, Wyoming, does not naturally spring to mind as a destination from Northern Colorado (no offence intended). The City of Laramie sits just north of I-80, 50 miles west of Cheyenne, and is perhaps fair to say more of a "Gas Stop" for visitors heading west to the Snowy Range Mountains or Yellowstone, East to Vedauwoo, Gurt Gowdy etc.

Laramie however, is home to a really interesting historic museum, the "Wyoming Territorial Prison", well worth the small $5 entrance fee. This historic prison was built in 1872, and operated for 30 years as Wyoming's only federal penitentiary, its most famous inmate was "Butch Cassidy".

Wyoming Territorial Prison

Wyoming Territorial Prison

The prison facility remained a "Territorial Prison" up until 1890 when Wyoming was admitted to the Union, it was then classified as a "State Penitentiary" and expanded to meet demand, in 1901 the prison was emptied of inmates, as they were transferred to the new State penitentiary in Rawlins. By 1903 the building was virtually abandoned, having seen 1,063 convicts pass through it's doors (including Butch Cassidy), it was handed over to the University of Wyoming as an Agricultural Experiment Station. The university used the site up until 1989, then in 1990 the prison building was restored.

Original structures on the museum site include the prison (circa 1872 restored in 1990), the warden's house (circa 1875), the broom/industry building (circa 1892) and the box car building; other buildings on the site are either relocated historic buildings, or "faux" buildings showing wild west history.

the Warden's House built in 1875

The horse carriages you can go inside for a real feel of the west

The North and South Cellblocks have been re-constructed; the North Cellblock dates to 1872, and consisted of 42 x 6' by 8' Cells, the South Cellblock was built in 1889, and consisted of 42 x 5' by 7' Cells.

North Cellblock

South Cellblock

To help keep the prison up and running, inmates were put to work in the "Broom Factory". Up to 25 inmates at a time worked in the industry building, producing approximately 720 brooms per day that were sold across the USA.

The Industry Building "Broom Factory"

Broom Factory with original machinery on display

The museum complex also contains other historic structures that have been moved from other areas of Wyoming, including a collection of Ranch buildings dating back to 1880.

Horse corral

Log cabin and farming equipment

There is also a re-constructed "faux" frontier town, consisting of a row of buildings that represent how a western town would of looked back in the late 1800's.

re-constructed General Store

The Prison and surrounding wall

Essential Information:
Google Map Location
Wyoming Territorial Prison Website
National Register of Historic Places PDF

No comments: