Wyoming Territorial Prison Museum
On to Laramie (along the way, I noticed several prairie dogs scampering across the road! This was a fun change from the squirrels we tend to see around here. And they are FAST!).
Our stop was at the Wyoming Territorial Prison Museum, which served as a federal prison from 1872 to 1903.
I see that they’re holding a “Haunt or Hoax” program there soon, and this would indeed be the perfect location. You could almost sense the ghosts of those long-ago bad boys (and yes, girls too) who spent time here for whatever offenses. The facility was dedicated, after all, to “evil doers of all classes and kinds.” The infamous Butch Cassidy spent time here.
When we entered, we were each given a card with the identity of an actual prisoner from there. We were told to look in the prison to see if we could find out anything about our alter egos. I was Minnie Snyder, accused of manslaughter. Ya see, — so I paraphrase — my wealthy (yet annoying) neighbor Mr. Aldrich was loudly carousing with friends (as was his habit) one night when a shot rang out and he was grazed, knocking him unconscious. The next morning, a trail led from his house to MINE! The outrage! Well, my husband and I agreed to take the matter up with law enforcement in Marquette. But on our way there, one of Aldrich’s ranch hands drew his gun. In self-dense (SELF DENFENSE, I SAY!), either myself or Peter (I’m not telling) shot and killed the ranch hand. Peter and I were both sentenced to hard time here, me for 5 years and Peter for 10. During those years, we weren’t allowed to see each other as I was in the women’s unit and he was in the men’s. Boy, it was a tough time — yet I made do, all 93 pounds of me!
It was pretty creepy to walk along the corridors and look at the cells, and later to look down on them from a “cage” up high. There were also rooms to visit where staff had slept (and occasionally been attacked), and a communal eating room. We even got to walk through the broom factory on-site, where many of the prisoners spent their day — you guessed it — making brooms. During the prison’s heyday, the inmates were turning out 720 brooms each day!
As we left, I learned that I (err, Minnie) was released after serving five years.