Last summer, our family took a short trip to Wyoming and the kids and I spent a day in Laramie while Jeremy was doing a mountain bike race. Mostly, we visited the Wyoming Territorial Prison Historic Site in Laramie, and it was really pretty cool so I wanted to share it here as it could be a nice day trip or one-night trip from Colorado Springs.
Built in 1872, Wyoming Territorial Prison was both a federal and state prison for about 30 years, when it closed its prison doors and became an agricultural research station for the University of Wyoming until 1989. As you can imagine, a prison-turned-barn required a lot of work to restore and while I’m no expert, the restoration job seemed really well done.
The site includes the main prison, a work house, the warden’s house, and several other historic buildings. The prison housed the infamous Butch Cassidy for a time, and there is a special exhibit about his outlaw gang.
The site was pretty interactive – you could go in and out of some of the jail cells, go into the watchmen’s tower. My kids’ favorite part was the stagecoach and jail wagon that they could get on!
A volunteer showed us how the prisoners used to make brooms to sell – they even grew their own broom corn.
In one of the buildings is an exhibit related to the site’s time as an agricultural research lab. The best (and worst) part of this exhibit was the part where you could reach your hand inside a simulated cow’s stomach to feel how the cow’s digestion was doing. It felt very, um, real!
At the time of this posting, admission to the site is $5 for adults and $2.50 for ages 12-17. Children 11 and under are free. Note that it is not open year-round. Get all the information you need right here!
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