America's Glamorous Gas Chambers
Stop here for a breather! And don't forget to check out America's Excellent Electric Chairs!
Colorado Territorial Prison Museum,
Canon City, Colorado
An actual gas chamber sits on the lawn of the Territorial Prison Museum, a little weather-worn, but nonetheless impressive. Two vintage cells sit outside, apparently used to store gardening tools.
Inside are more tributes to justice. Sit in the cell of Alferd Packer, America's favorite cannibal, who did time here! The wide main hall leads to side rooms featuring artifacts such as the actual hangman's noose of the last man to have his neck stretched in Colorado, prison contraband, a scale model of a gas chamber, and disciplinary paraphernalia used from 1871 to the present.
Thirty-two cells are outfitted with exhibits devoted to all aspects of prison life (substance abuse, rioting, and isolation, among others). One cell features an exhibit on 11-year old Anton Wood, youngest person in Colorado ever convicted of murder. Another contains a feebly animated "Sheriff Sam" robot, creaking and clunking while it relates the career of warden Roy Best, who wound up in prison himself for "mass flogging" of prisoners.
Oh yeah. The tally:
77 executions: 45 by hanging, 32 by gas
Strap Me In!
Wyoming Frontier Prison, Rawlins, Wyoming
The prison closed in 1982 and opened for visitors in 1987. Advertised as "There's a place behind bars for you," prison tours are staffed by enthusiastic youngsters who happily allow all to sit inside the gas chamber where five lawbreakers were executed. They'll strap you in, and even shut the door if you so desire.
Three times a week, night tours are offered in pitch darkness. When one guide tells of prison suicides, another tosses a dummy off the second floor into the middle of the shocked group. Ex-inmates often take the tour and bore others with their nostalgic stories.