experiences

A Brief Stint Behind Bars: Wyoming Territorial Prison

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I didn’t even realize territorial prisons were a thing, but one of the main attractions in Laramie, WY is the Wyoming Territorial Prison. It was only used for 30 years, 1872-1902, but housed outlaws such as Butch Cassidy.
Wyoming Territorial Prison famous outlaws
I didn’t really know what to expect, I was skeptical how interesting it would be, but I wound up having a great time. The (childish) highlight was getting into the old fashioned police wagon (which was NOT comfortable).
Wyoming Territorial Prison jail wagon Keri
The building and grounds had been used for agricultural use for decades, but they’ve done a good job of restoring it and adding stories to increase interest.
Wyoming Territorial Prison Day in Prison History
You can tour the Warden’s house, and unrelated to the tour, see how they’ve been tracking the widening of a crack in the wall through the years. Again, I’m weird, stuff like this interests me.
Wyoming Territorial Prison Warden House
Wyoming Territorial Prison cracks in wall
 Much of the original structure has been preserved, and they’ve removed some of the walls and floors to show some of the architectural features.
Wyoming Territorial Prison jail cells
Wyoming Territorial Prison cell interior
One of the best features is the anecdotes about various inmates that are posted along the tour, it adds a little life to an otherwise matter of fact tour of the prison facilities. Apparently it wasn’t hard to escape and people frequently did.
Wyoming Territorial Prison escape stories
Yet, for the most part, the escapes had an air that might be described as almost gamelike. In one case, a prisoner who had earned the trust of his captors was allowed to maintain a pet antelope in a pen outside the prison walls. One evening, he went out to feed his pet, wedged the door shut so that no one could follow, and simply walked away. He was never recaptured. Warden Schnitger’s response: “Well, they will slip away from us even with the utmost vigilance…nobody escaped here because he was allowed any privileges.”
If you visit the prisoner work bar you’ll be able to see some rather impressive pieces of prisoner carved furniture as well as lots and lots of brooms 🙂
Wyoming Territorial Prison work barn straw
Being honest, I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit this place but if you have time in Laramie and enjoy history, swing by.
More from this trip:

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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel

1 Comment

  1. Meagan

    March 8, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    This does look like a simple little spur of the moment attraction to do. Looks like you had an amazing time. Might have to give it a try.

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