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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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:
Full Disclosure: I may receive affiliate credit from links in this post or on this site which will help fund my travels. Thank you for your support!