A Brief Stint Behind Bars: Wyoming Territorial Prison

a large brick building with a lawn and a tractor

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.
a group of people in a picture
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).
two women behind bars in a wagon
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.
a framed sign with a white border
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.
a white house with a porch and a lawn
a crack in the 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.
a row of jail cells
a brick wall with a glass railing
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.
a red wall with white text
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 🙂
a stack of hay bales
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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One Comment

  1. 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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