Along the desolate stretch of Interstate 80, between snow covered sagebrush and endless Wyoming prairie lies the wasted town of Rawlins. The week isn’t quite over, the miles on the odometer read 1,812 for the trip thus far. Road weary and exhausted, I slowly pull off the highway….(cue the Stephen King novel) and head for the historic Wyoming Frontier prison.


Completed in 1901, the penitentiary housed the criminals of the wild west for eighty years before closing its doors. Executions here started as hangings, but people were also shot and put in the gas chamber. Wyoming would kill any way they could, fourteen in all.

“Discipline” was translated to “torture”, and the Frontier prison had its own dungeon, variations of experimental solitary confinement cells, and a punishment pole where people were stripped, handcuffed to the pole and whipped with rubber hoses.

The courtyard now houses ghostly images of the people that once walked within the bare walls. Outside, a small herd of scruffy deer guard the broken fence line.

I walk the circumference of the prison in the chill of afternoon, without purpose, looking for nothing, finding exactly that.

One Reply to “finding an Old West prison”

  1. I can't believe you could get so close to the buildings. In the UK, any abandoned buildings are always boarded up and surrounded by fencing. Great photos.

Wench, bring my ale, what say you?

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