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Wyoming Territorial Prison
 

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Bad Boys of the Wyoming Territorial Prison

One of the best ways to get to know someone is by visiting their home. At the “Big House across the River” displays of convicts, cells, and artifacts tell the stories of people from the Prison’s past. You can experience these stories through guided tours or on your own.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Wyoming Territorial Prison was built in 1872. It became a symbol of law and order during the turmoil of the wild west. For 30 years it held violent and desperate outlaws (including the notorious Butch Cassidy). Located on 197 acres, the Site offers restored historic buildings, museum exhibits, a nature trail, special events, picnic area, and visitor center with gift shop

River-in-front-of-PrisonPrison ca. 1890

 

Convict-learning-the-rulesConvict learning the rules

 

 

Visit


GROUP TOURSgroup-tour

This general interest guided tour highlights Wyoming Territorial Prison’s fascinating 30 year history, architecture, notorious convicts, prison management, and Wyoming history.  Visit the oldest federal building in Wyoming that served as both a Federal Penitentiary and later Wyoming’s first State Penitentiary.  

Group-tour-N-Cell-Block

Led by historic interpreters, this tour walks through the cell blocks, prison industries building, and includes living history demonstrations.  

Must have 10 or more people to schedule a group guided tour.  Must schedule at least 2 weeks in advance.  

Duration:  Approximately 1 ½ Hours

 


SCHOOL TOURSSchool-group

An educational trip to the Wyoming Territorial Prison is an experience that allows your students to learn history and become engaged in historic inquiry.  Through the tour students will use Territorial Prison’s history as a lens to examine the larger story of American History.  

The Prison is a rich learning environment.  Its’ establishment and operation had a vital impact on the social development of Wyoming.   School visits offer teachers and students the opportunity to analytically connect with the historical narratives of Western Settlement, Wyoming Statehood, Frontier Communities, and the Built and Natural Environments.  Who lived in Territorial Wyoming?  How did achieving statehood change the Prison?  What parts of “community” are apparent in the prison environment? How did Lawmen control a wild west?  These questions will prompt students to consider multiple perspectives.  

In addition to our tour, we offer a half-hour curriculum driven activity.  Students will use primary sources, critical thinking, deductive reasoning and teamwork skills.  

Tours are tailored to the grade level or college year of your group.  Tour dates fill up fast, please schedule your School visit at least 2 weeks ahead.  

Duration:  Approximately 1 ½ Hours

 

Exhibits

From territorial days to early statehood; from Convicts to Cows, the Prison tells the story of Wyoming’s past. Discover the stories of infamous outlaws, prison reform, law and order, and science research.

 

These are a few of the special exhibits you'll want to see:   


Butch Cassidy: Who Was That Guy?

Butch Cassidy had plans, and those plans needed ruthless men to carry them out.  He assembled an elite corps of outlaws and organized a gang which became the most successful ring of thieves in American history.  This exhibit examines the mystery, the myth, and the man known as Butch Cassidy.  Cassidy’s story has become larger-than-life. The one outlaw that the Pinkerton Detective Agency never captured.  Enjoy your exploration of the folklore and history behind the escapades of Butch and the Wild Bunch gang.

Butch-Cassidy-Exhibit
Posse-and-Pinkerton-Detectives

 


May Preston Slosson: A Light in the Dark

Clergy and Convicts.  Chaplains were not always welcome in prisons.  Wardens during the reform movement considered them a hindrance to running a prison.  Chaplains visited prisoners, provided church services, and also served as librarians and record keepers.  In prisons of silence (such as this one) chaplains often acted as the voice of the prisoners. Dr. May Preston Slosson was appointed on July 7, 1899, becoming the first female Prison Chaplain in the United States. Dr. Slosson aimed to build up the prisoners’ sense of self-respect and provide education that she believed would assist in an orderly transition from prison life to life beyond the walls.  

May-Preston-Slosson-and-prisonersDr. May Preston Slosson with prisoners

 


Science on the Range

Learn how a Prison went from Convicts to Cows. When the prison closed in 1903, the University of Wyoming acquired the property and embarked on a remarkable venture to adapt the land and buildings for use as an agricultural research station.

 

The University conducted numerous experiments on crops and stock animals from 1903 to 1989.  It was also known for its national stock show champions that were bred and raised on-site.  The steadfast goal of the staff and students at the research station was “to help build the most important agriculture industry in the west.”  Thus advancing farming and ranching practices in Wyoming and around the world.

 

 

Convicts: Cuffed, Chained and Confined


ButchCassidy

Butch Cassidy - Convict #187

Born Robert LeRoy Parker, he changed his name to Butch Cassidy when he began his life of crime. Later known as a legend of the American West and leader of the Wild Bunch, Cassidy was incarcerated at the Wyoming Territorial Prison for grand larceny (stealing horses) from 1894-1896. This would be the only Prison to ever hold Butch Cassidy. Upon his release he would establish the most successful band of bank and train robbers this country has ever seen. Butch and his gang would steal over $233,905.00 from trains, banks, and mining payrolls all over the West in five years. Cassidy, the Sundance Kid (Harry Alonso Longabaugh), Kid Curry and other Wild Bunch gang members were some of the most wanted men in four states with Pinkerton detectives, posses and bounty hunters dogging their steps. Butch and the Wild Bunch would become the country's last horseman outlaws. In 1901 the gang dissolved, Butch, the Sundance Kid and Etta Place set sail for South America. Cassidy may have died in a gun-fight with local law enforcement authorities in San Vicente, Bolivia in 1908 or he may have returned to the United States under another identity. His fate remains a mystery.

 

 

 


RobertLee

Robert (Bob) E. Lee - Convict #491

A member of the Wild Bunch gang and a participant of the infamous Union Pacific Wilcox Train Robbery (June 2, 1899), Lee was incarcerated at the Wyoming Territorial Prison in 1900 and released (from the new state penitentiary in Rawlins, WY) in 1907. He was also a member of the Curry Gang, led by the infamous killer, Kid Curry (Harvey Logan).

 

 

 


ArthurHinman

Arthur Hinman - Convict #549

After stealing a horse and saddle, Hinman was convicted of grand larceny and incarcerated from 1901-1903. Upon his walking through the iron doors, at the age of 14, he was the youngest convict ever put behind bars at the Territorial Prison.

 

 

 


ElizaStewart

Eliza "Big Jack" Stewart - Convict #459

Stewart walked up and shot a man in the neck at a dance hall in Hanna, Wyoming. Not known if it was a lover's quarrel or a fight over money, she was convicted for "assault to commit manslaughter". Steward was incarcerated at the Territorial Prison from 1899-1901.

 

 

 


JamesBrown

James Brown - Convict #516

Convicted of Forgery and sentenced to 3 years hard labor, Brown was one of many escape attempts at the Wyoming Territorial Prison. He had 1 year left on his sentence when Brown escaped on May 30, 1903 while cleaning the chicken house. Convict was recaptured and punished by usual methods then given an additional 30 years. He was the last prisoner to escape Laramie Penitentiary. He served out the remainder of his incarceration at the new state penitentiary in Rawlins, Wyoming and was released in May 1935 at the age of 99.

 

 

 


WilliamWilcox

William T. Wilcox - Convict #134 & #324

Wilcox did hard time at the prison for burglary from 1893 to 1896 (and again for forgery1897-1898). While incarcerated, he became a friend of Butch Cassidy, who was serving time for grand larceny. Wilcox possibly rode with the Wild Bunch gang after he and Cassidy were released. In later years, Wilcox would impersonate Cassidy, convincingly leading many to believe in the 1920s and 1930s that Cassidy had returned from South America to the American West.

To learn more about the 1,063 convicts that were locked up, worked and lived behind bars read: Atlas of Wyoming Outlaws at the Territorial Penitentiary, by Elnora L. Frye., c.1990

 

 

 

Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site Hosts Holiday Light Show

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Come celebrate the holiday season with a synchronized light and music show at the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site, in Laramie.

Experience the “Magic of Lights”, a dazzling show of more than 10,000 lights, 20 displays synchronized to favorite holiday songs making it one of the largest light shows in the area.

Running from 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. nightly, November 24 through December 31, it can be viewed from the comfort of your own car in the Territorial Prison’s spacious parking lot. Listeners tune in to 99.5 FM.

TPHolidayLights3

“State Parks’ mission is to Impact Communities and Enrich Lives,” Site Supervisor Deborah Amend said. “With this gift from us to the community, we want to give joy, make memories for families, and become a holiday tradition for years to come.” 

A new piece is added each year to the display – come out and see for yourselves!

The display is made possible by our sponsors, the Wyoming Territorial Prison Park Historic Association and Fremont Electric.

   
Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites, & Trails
A Division of Wyoming State Parks & Cultural Resources
2301 Central Avenue, 4th Floor, Cheyenne, WY 82002
307-777-6323www.wyoparks.org

 

 

 

 
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Site Status

 
The cell doors are open and ready. Please view our hours and Do Time With Us!
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Hours

 

April 1 – 30

  • 8am to 5pm - Monday – Saturday
  • Closed Sundays

May 1 – September 30

  • 8am to 7pm - Daily
  • Open on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day

October 1 – 31

  • 8am to 5pm - Daily
  • Last Admission Ticket sold 1 hour before closing

November 1 - December 20

  • Reservations only for Holiday Parties

January 1 - March 31

  • Closed to Public (Staff available for inquiries)

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