Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site, Laramie

4.7
#1 of 7 in Things to do in Laramie
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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Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
393 reviews
Google
4.7
TripAdvisor
  • An interesting excursion. To me, it was more of a 3 star attraction, as I’d recently been on a tour at Alcatraz, in San Francisco, which has an audio tour, beautiful views of the City from the island,...  more »
  • Great place to visit, lots to see indoors & out. Informative staff, the old prison was the highlight although the university exhibits are interesting too. Definitely worth a stop if you’re driving thr...  more »
  • This was a very interesting and very informative tour. Although it is self guided, there is tons of history to learn. Really enjoyed it. We got there at 4:00 and they close at 5:00, so we had to rush ...  more »
Google
  • What a fun find if you are interested in Wild West history. We stopped in here with the kids on a road trip — after seeing this pop up on Trip Advisor. Highly recommend taking a guided tour — you kind find out so much about this place. There were stories of prison escapes, prison life, and details about the entire complex. Our kids enjoyed seeing the old prison and the “Alcatraz” feel to trying out what it felt like to get locked behind bars in the old cells. There is also a broom making demonstration they enjoyed. There were even docents dresses up in period costumes that told stories. Us adults liked looking at all the poster pictures of famous inmates — and reading their stories. If you’re a history buff — this is a fun stop.
  • Such a cool place! Lots of great history. If you take in all the exhibits, you could easily spend two to three hours here. Good picnic area, too.
  • I have toured the Prison multiple times. They have activities during Halloween and lights that are synced to music during Christmas. Highly recommend for any occasion 😁
  • A great place to visit for a reasonable price! The old west history is fun to learn more about too
  • There is an entrance fee but it is worth it. The staff is informative and the museum is great. It includes some live re-enactments and has a series of external buildings with their own history.

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