Friday, July 3, 2015

The one where we all went to prison

We started yesterday off with a seven mile bike ride along the Yampa River where we’d been tubing the day before, with a pit stop at Starbucks for a cold drink. The trail was paved and flat, with several small bridges crossing back and forth over the water, making for a nice, easy ride that was a perfect way to see a bit more of the city and enjoy the river some more.

After we piled back into the RV, we continued on down the highway to Rawlins, Colorado to the site of the former Wyoming State Penitentiary. The prison opened in 1901 and remained in use until 1981, holding several well-known criminals, including Butch Cassidy.

We took an in-depth tour of the facilities and saw the tiny grungy cells, the inadequate shower room that was a place for settling scores, the cafeteria where prisoners could only talk to the person to the immediate right or left or face being shot, the darker side of cell block A where prisoners could hide in the shadows of their cells and reach out and grab someone walking by, and the gas chamber where two men were executed.

The guide had lots of grisly stories for us of escapes, riots, scams, and deaths. One of my favourites was the story of a few prisoners who were in the death row section. They managed to sneak out of the cells at night and start tunnelling their way out, hiding the dirt in the ceiling tiles. They were making pretty good progress until they hit something hard, kept digging, and managed to rupture a gas line, putting an end to their efforts pretty quickly.

Not quite Shawshank.

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