The 10 Most Interesting Abandoned Prisons of America

Photo by Sue Smith at Shutterstock

Wyoming Territorial Prison, Laramie

Time of Operation: 1872 to 1903
This prison was home to 1,063 criminals of the wild west during its operation, including Butch Cassidy. It began as a federal prison in 1872 but became Wyoming’s State Penitentiary in 1890. Inmates were required to be quiet at all times, perform hard labor, wear striped uniforms, and names were replaced with numbers for the most infamous criminals.

The facility had problems from the start, with a fire in 1873 and reoccurring 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 lighter sentences.

It closed down in 1903 and was used by the University of Wyoming to do livestock and crop field research. The prison was renovated and turned into a museum in 1990.

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