Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Yuma Territorial Prison

While in Yuma, we decided to take a tour of the Yuma Territorial Prison. This prison was operational from 1876 until 1909. During that period, 3,069 prisoners, which included 29 women lived there. From 1910 to 1914 the Yuma Union High School occupied the buildings. They were referred to as the Criminals by a rival football team from Phoenix, because they won the game. Thereafter they referred to themselves as the "Crims."

After the depression the prison fell into disrepair. The community rallied and fought to preserve it as a city museum. Today it is owned and maintained by the State of Arizona as a State Park. It was an amazing place to see, as I wasn't prepared to see what it was like back then to be in a prison. Local people referred to the place as a country club. It is hard for me to imagine why anyone would think so when looking at the sleeping accommodations. Even with the passage of time, you can clearly see that this was not an easy life. Many of the crimes such as, adultery, prize fighting, and selling liquor to Indians, would not even be considered a crime today.

This building holds many artifacts from the prison. Many pictures showing the administrators, prison guards as well as some of the prisoners line the walls.

This is the main guard house.

Main entrance to the prison. I saw these buildings in an old pictures and they haven't changed much in appearance.

Pictures of prison guards and superintendents of the prison.

This small cell held 6 prisoners. Notice the triple bunk on either side. Pot in the center was all they had for bathroom while in cell. No privacy here.

Another area and more bunks.

Hallway with cells on either side.

No......It's not an electric chair. It is a very tattered barber's chair.

One of the prison yards.

Al had to bend way over to go through this. We were told that a movie called "The Badlands" was filmed here in 1958. Alan Ladd starred in it and this doorway was made for that movie. It was made short in order to make him look taller than he actually was.

Not sure what this cell was about, but only 2 beds in here.

I took a lot of pictures while we were here. It was difficult to choose which ones to show. I was thinking that showing what the actual prison was like for the prisoners was the best way to go. I could make a whole other blog on the artifacts in the museum, but I don't think I will. This place really left me feeling very sad. Even though these people did break the law, life here seemed very in-humane to me. I guess I'm glad we visited here, but I don't plan to return for another visit.

1 comment:

  1. We found it very interesting, too. Glad you got to go. On another note, looks like you and Dick were both busy blogging last night. J.