The Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site, Laramie

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The Wyoming Territorial Prison is a former federal government prison near Laramie, Wyoming. Built in 1872 it is one of the oldest buildings in Wyoming. It operated as a federal penitentiary from 1872 to 1890, and as a state prison from 1890 to 1901. It was then transferred to the University of Wyoming and was used as an agricultural experiment station until 1989. In 1991 the facility was opened to the public, and in 2004 was designated as Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site.HistoryThe prison was built in 1872 and began accepting prisoners in early 1873. The facility had problems from the outset, with a fire in 1873 and recurrent jailbreaks. Of the 44 prisoners accepted in the first two years of operation, 11 escaped. By 1877 the prison was overcrowded. As the prison filled its reputation worsened, and it became less used, being considered more appropriate for those with light sentences. During the 1880s the prison was under capacity, with as few as three prisoners at one time. However, in 1889 a second cellblock was constructed,a expanding capacity to 150 and providing a central kitchen, dining hall, guards' rooms and steam heat. There were at least five cells for female inmates, and several solitary confinement cells. In 1890 Wyoming became a state and the facility was transferred to the new state, which already had planned a new facility in Rawlins. Butch Cassidy was incarcerated here in 1894-1896. Prisoners were transferred to Rawlins in 1901, The prison was closed in 1903 and given to the University of Wyoming.The university operated the property to conduct experiments in livestock breeding until 1989. In 1991 the property opened to the public. In 2004 it was established as Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 29, 1978.
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The Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site Reviews
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  • September 27, 2017
    We enjoyed taking the tour of this historic prison where many notorious people were incarcerated. It was very interesting....the information the tour guide gave was interesting and informative. The ex...  more »
  • September 26, 2017
    One of the best laid out museums of any kind that I've been to. Only one problem for "old" people--there needs to be an occasional bench to sit and read the interesting material!  more »
  • September 23, 2017
    The TA description gives a lot of information so I won't repeat that but this site is well put together and the exhibits are excellent. The buildings have been restored and the cells etc have maintain...  more »
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  • June 26, 2017
    We spent hours in there. Such an interesting place, and so well restored and documented. Loved reading about the history of the prison, its inmates, but also visiting the broom making workshop where you can still witness the details of the craft. The volunteers working on the premises were very knowledgable and helpful. We had a great experience!
  • June 11, 2017
    Really loved this - quite unassuming from the outside, the exhibits in the prison itself are incredibly well done, nothing at all like I thought it would be. Also, the adjacent work building shows how they made brooms - quite interesting. Handmade brooms of various sizes for sale in the visitor center - never thought I would be excited about a broom, but these are really great!
  • July 10, 2017
    A really cool piece of Wyoming history. This is a newly renovated historical site with lots of rooms to see. The broom factory gives you a peek into how the prison generated revenue.
  • June 27, 2017
    Well kept historical prison. Very interesting self-guided tour. Worth a visit!
  • June 29, 2017
    Very interesting. .take the guided tour. So much more information. ...

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