Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Yuma Territorial Slammer

The number one tourist attraction in Yuma AZ (per the web site Trip Advisor) is the Yuma Territorial Prison State Park.   When I told Jim that he said "What other tourist sites are there in Yuma?"  So how could we not go?  

The grounds are beautiful:  palm trees, lush green grass, walkways with flowers.  Not sure if the prison looked like that back in 1876 when the first prisoners moved in (they also happened to be the folks who built it.)  But the prison was so modern for its time -- with electricity, running water and flush toilets -- that those on the outside called it "the country club."  Those on the inside, however, called it "the hell hole."  It was oppressively hot in the summer, cells held six people each, and those flush toilets weren't in the cells; each cell had a single latrine bucket emptied once a day.
Jim looking in one of the cells at the Yuma Territorial 
Prison State Park, which was used as a prison for 33 
years.  Over that time it housed  3069 men and women 
who'd committed crimes ranging from murder to 
Bev peering from behind the bars.  After the prison closed 
in 1909 the site was used for a few years as the local high 
school.  To this day, the high school sports teams are 
called the "criminals." Really. 

Jim coming out of the "Dark Cell," a windowless, bathroomless space where you were tossed (in just your underwear) if you didn't follow the rules. Folks  were not 
put in the dark cell one at a time; instead, guards added prisoners until it was standing room only.  (Looks like Jim got his clothes back.) I thought the room had bad juju.

A reconstruction of the prison guard tower sits atop the original water tank.

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