Where do you take wild, unruly, out of control kids? On a prison tour, of course. Too bad ours aren’t any of those things but we took them anyway. Let’s pretend they’ve been bad…very bad.
Enter the doors of the old Wyoming Prison in Rawlins, WY……..The Frontier Prison.
Upon entering we were greeted by nice young women selling us tickets to take a tour, but as soon as the tour started and we were shut behind the large metal door that slammed so loud we almost jumped out of our skin, we knew there wouldn’t be anything else nice about this place. We started off with the check-in process, then led thru the full body cavity strip search area which included a “punishment pole” where prisoners were handcuffed to it and then whipped with rubber hoses. Oh yes, this was a prison of horrors.
Our guide wasted no time getting us into Cell Block A where the kids got their first feel of what it’d be like behind bars.
This cell block was so cold in the winters that men actually froze to death. It also had no electricity or running water.
This prison even housed some women for a while, eleven to be exact. But not this little woman. She does wear stripes well, though.
They didn’t take us into the dungeon, but showed us the door that led to some very bad things.
Then there was “The Gallows” that was used to hang the prisoners.
The prisoners would stand with a noose around their neck on a drop floor above this contraption and would be able to hear the water slowly trickle into the bucket, which when it got heavy enough, would pull the wood, causing the door to open and the men to fall to the ground. The worst part about this hanging was the men wouldn’t die from a quick snap of the neck, but they would die a slow strangulation instead. Nine men were executed this way.
The prison was so popular that to relieve overcrowding they were continually expanding. Hello Cell Block B. We were told even Billy the Kid visited here for a bit.
Cell Block B included solitary confinement, where the tour guide shoved us in and slammed the door on us. Okay she didn’t shove us in, but she did shut us inside so we could feel what it was like to be locked up in there. It was pitch black and eerily quiet.
Some B blockers were lucky enough to get a cell with a view. Woo hoo.
My family on the stairs to death row. Death.Row. Don’t do it!
There were six cells behind bars, behind more bars. And for some reason I was fascinated with them.
I’m sure this guy wasn’t though. Even the shower looked like a bad scene.
Speaking of scene, they filmed a movie here in 1987 titled “The Prison”, and the production crew painted the outside of this cell block pink so it would show up on film better. Nothing like a pretty pink death house.
Just ten feet from these death row bars are the two death rooms. The first one is the hanging room.
The wooden drop floor was concreted over once they stopped hanging prisoners, in favor of the gas chamber, which was within sight of death row.
Five prisoners were executed here, which took about five minutes for them to die, and before each killing they had to replace all the seals to make sure there wouldn’t be any gas leaks. But to insure there weren’t any gas leaks they had to test it out on pigs first. So for every man that was killed there was also a pig killed, which was actually crueler according to the kids. Everybody but myself sat in that gas chamber.
Everybody but myself was also a very attentive student. I wanted to listen to everything that the guide was telling us but then I wouldn’t have had a chance to take photos. She spoke very fast, and I was always the last one out the door when they moved on to the next area. I missed a lot of facts but I believe this was Cell Block C, the last block built and the most modern.
Oh, here’s a fun one. The Hole. Men actually went crazy in here.
No wonder when this was as big as it was, added to the fact that they’d be in there for weeks, sometimes months, at a time……and sometimes go days without water or food.
Of the 142 pictures I took this day, for some reason this is my favorite. I have no idea why. It’s surely not cause she’s my little mini me or anything.
Hope you enjoyed my tour of our tour and remember: