Monday, October 19, 2015

Yuma Territorial Prison

I visited the old territorial prison in Yuma, Arizona while on my way across Interstate 8.  The name Yuma stands out in my mind as a notorious town in wild west history.  This prison was in active use during the later 1800's and closed as a prison in the early part of the 20th century.  This prison housed both men and women and most of the prisoners served terms from a few months to five or six years.  Most of the prisoners survived to be released but there are others that landed in boot hill just outside the prison gates.  On the day that I visited this site the outside temperature was 105 degrees.  It made me wonder how the inmates survived the extreme heat.  The cells were made of adobe, which keeps a building cool and the cells were open on both ends so there was a cross breeze.  The dark cell (solitary confinement) was pitch black and very scary.  Apparently a stay in the dark cell "cured" many an inmate who went on to become a model prisoner and then a good citizen after their release.  The prison grounds are part of the Arizona State Park system but are locally operated and funded by the people of Yuma.  If you are interested in the history of the old west, put the Yuma Territorial Prison on your list.  The tours are self guided and the museum is full of history.

The above picture shows the entry gate to the prison and the lower picture shows the cell block.

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