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The Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site, Laramie

(4.6/5 based on 320+ reviews on the web)
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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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • This was a cool stop. It's designed to be self-guided (my preference), and there's plenty of good info along the way. Reading the biographies of the inmates, then their dispensation of justice, is fas...  more »
  • This is where I wanted to go for my birthday - so we went and had a great time. I loved all the history, The people dressed in costume were so knowledgeable and really kept the kids engaged. It was gr...  more »
  • We spent a couple of hours touring the prison. Well laid out and lots of information available. Great graphics on some of the inmates housed here. Learned a lot about the various crimes and punishment...  more »
Google
  • This is a great family attraction and offers alot of history. It is one of the oldest prisons in the country, and there are very few like it that are still standing today. So if your in Laramie and are looking for something to do go check it out. It will be worth your time to visit.
  • A truly well-done historical site. The tours are thoughtfully executed and extremely educational. The site is kept up nicely. I'd also say that it is probably one of the more unique historical sites I've been to. All-around great place to visit.
  • Worth a stop. Visited once before years ago and wasnt much but it has grown into a very good museum. Includes a great exhibit on Butch Cassidy who was held here for several months
  • Great self guided informative tour if you like western history. Low cost at five bucks. Allow about two hours. Mostly friendly staff.
  • This place looks awesome. After reading the available history, is seems like the kind of place you can visit and the stories come to life. I'm giving 4 stars based on a parking lot view and online descriptions. One thing to know before you go.... Although most every online site and the signage around the facility states that the prison is open until 7pm, it's a little misleading.... there is one place online with a little asterisk that says: "*last ticket sold at 6pm." Just get there before 5:59pm and you will have an hour to enjoy your visit. FYI... I begged for a ticket. They were very kind as they rejected every offer. Maybe I'll get in next year when I pass by there again. :-)