Wyoming Roadside Attraction:Wyoming Frontier Prison Museum

13-Frontier Prison Rawlins a

The former Wyoming State Penitentiary building faces a residential street in Rawlins. Take a tour and get the inside story on executions, escapes and prison riots. Photo by Barb Gorges.

Published August 31, 2009, in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, “Scary is the word for this former state prison.”

By Barb Gorges

This is the prison to take your kids to as a deterrent to a life of crime.

I took a tour the year after the old state penitentiary closed in 1981 and it was hard to believe people had lived in it so recently, it was so run down. A few years later, it was used as a movie set.

But it was brand new in 1901. The massive sandstone structure looks medieval, complete with turrets.

If you decide to pay for the hour-long tour, you’ll see the cell blocks and the Death House, and hear the stories of escapes, hangings and riots.

There is no charge to tour the museum area at the entrance. It features inmate stories and their handiwork, plus a gift shop.

One room is dedicated to the Wyoming Peace Officers Museum and in another a video plays interviews with employees at the current prison.

At the back of the museum, a sign advertising a nature trail points to a door leading outside. Lucky for you, escaping the dreary surroundings is that easy.

Wyoming Frontier Prison Museum

Directions: I-80 Exit 211, east on Spruce, north on 7th to Walnut.

Open: Memorial through Labor Days, every day, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Off season tours Monday-Thursday (excluding holidays) at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. only.  Please check website for updates.

Admission: One-hour tours every hour on the half hour until 4:30 p.m., $8/adult, $7/senior or child, $30/family.

Address: 500 W. Walnut St., Rawlins.

Phone: 307-324-4422.

Web site: http://wyomingfrontierprison.org/

Attractions: Tours for a fee, free exhibits, gift shop, nature trail. Special off-season tours and hours available.

Time: Allow 1-2 hours.

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