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Model of a gas chamber, Canon City, CO

America's Glamorous Gas Chambers

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Cannibals & Gas Chambers

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.

Canon City, Colorado - Gas Chamber.
Canon City, Colorado - Gas Chamber.

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.

Checking out the gas chamber in Rawlins, Wyoming.
Checking out the gas chamber in Rawlins, Wyoming.

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. Team Field Report

Museum of Colorado Prisons

201 N. 1st St., Canon City, CO
West edge of the city. From US-50 turn north (no stoplight) at the brown Prison Museum sign onto 1st St. Drive two blocks to the museum, on the left.
May-Sep daily 10-6, Oct-Apr W-Su 10-5 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Adults $12.
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights Team Field Report

Wyoming Frontier Prison Museum

500 W. Walnut St., Rawlins, WY
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.
Summer daily 8-5, fewer hours and days off-season. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

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