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Prison Tour Fun

Old Hole door.Prisons are certainly no laughing matter, with their gas chambers, gallows, and electric chairs, and their daily melees of shower shivvings and cell block riots. Yet today, a number of old prisons have been given a reprieve as tourist attractions. That means that we must serve out our sentence as your guides….

We, in turn, rely on the guides we meet at prisons to ferret out the good stuff. Otherwise these places would be dull and gray, with a lot of poorly written signs to read. A guide can quickly point out the guard’s killing gun port over the prison cafeteria, or the cell where a famous convict languished.

We’ve had plenty of tours with guides, who — through years of tour experience, a passionate interest in the subject, or even a stint as a guard — can really bring a penal facility back to life. And then there are places like the Wyoming Frontier Prison, which we’re featuring this week. Its guides are knowledgeable, too, but they’re also young, and their delivery is breezy counterpoint to the usual procedural pall of crime and punishment.

Lens cap and the escape-proof cell.
Getting the lens cap out of the escape-proof cell.
And aside from youthful enthusiasm, there’s flexibility to consider. We dropped a lens cap leaning through the bars and mesh of a welded-shut, escape proof cell. Our guide looked through the bars for only a second, then was down on her belly, flicked off her shoe and used it as a retrieval tool as she squeezed her willowy frame into a narrow gap between the door and the floor.

No retiree or ex-tower bull would (or could) do that!

Wyoming Frontier Prison Museum

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RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

Wyoming Frontier Prison Museum

Address:
500 W. Walnut St., Rawlins, WY
Directions:
I-80 exit 211. Turn east onto Spruce St and drive 1.5 miles. Turn left onto 5th St., two blocks to Walnut St. The Prison will be straight ahead.
Hours:
Daily summer 8-5, hrs vary off season. (Call to verify)
Phone:
307-324-4422
RA Rates:
Major Fun
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