Skip to Main Content

Cell photo opportunity.
Cell photo opportunity.

Museum of Colorado Prisons

Field review by the editors.

Canon City, Colorado

Colorado US 50 cuts through Canon City like an ax-murderer's blade through a hapless victim's throat. On the west side of town, just north of the new prison on 1st Street, stands the old women's prison and accompanying Prison Museum, an attraction worthy of grisly metaphors. An actual gas chamber sits on the lawn in front of museum, a little weather-worn, but nonetheless impressive. Nearby are two vintage cells, 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.

Gas chamber.
Gas chamber.

Take advantage of the gag photo opportunity: striped prison overalls and hats you can wear while standing behind a set of fake bars. Or stand behind a plywood cutout caricature of a convict. Pretend you're one of the prisoners who used to be routinely flogged and tortured here and whose misery is glowingly chronicled for your entertainment.

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.

Con in a box.

Another contains a feebly animated "Sheriff Sam" robot, creaking and clunking while it relates the career of warden Roy Best, who wound up in the docket himself, reprimanded for misuse of public funded prison lumber. He was well liked but tough, known for his "mass flogging" of prisoners, and even ran unsuccessfully for governor of Colorado.

Oh yeah. The tally:

77 executions: 45 by hanging, 32 by gas

Museum of Colorado Prisons

201 N. 1st St., Canon City, CO
On the west side of Canon City, just north of the town's new prison on First and Macon Avenue.
Summer daily 10-6; off-season W-Su 10-5 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Adults $12, 65+ $11; 6-12 $10
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Dinosaur Built by Prison EmployeesDinosaur Built by Prison Employees, Canon City, CO - < 1 mi.
Bird Millman, Highwire DancerBird Millman, Highwire Dancer, Canon City, CO - < 1 mi.
Chrome Bumper WarbirdsChrome Bumper Warbirds, Canon City, CO - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Emma Crawford Coffin Race and Parade, Manitou Springs, CO - 34 mi.

More Quirky Attractions in Colorado

Stories, reports and tips on tourist attractions and odd sights in Colorado.

Explore Thousands of Unique Roadside Landmarks!

Strange and amusing destinations in the US and Canada are our specialty. Start here.
Use's Attraction Maps to plan your next road trip.

My Sights

My Sights on Roadside America

Create Your Own Bizarre Road Trips! ...Try My Sights

Mobile Apps

Roadside America app: iPhone, iPad Roadside America app for iPhone, iPad. On-route maps, 1,000s of photos, special research targets! ...More

Roadside Presidents app: iPhone, iPad Roadside Presidents app for iPhone, iPad. POTUS landmarks, oddities. ...More

Colorado Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

Congressional Cemetery: A Not-Grave Graveyard, Washington, DC (Feb 19-25, 2024)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

More Sightings

Favorite Quirky City Sights