Take a walk through the only prison to ever hold the famous outlaw Butch Cassidy, the Wyoming Territorial Prison in Laramie, WY…
Just off I-80, on the outskirts of Laramie, WY, sits one of the state’s oldest and most fabled structures, the Wyoming Territorial Prison. The home of many of Wyoming’s most colorful criminals, including Butch Cassidy, the Wyoming Territorial Prison is a must-see for anyone spending time in Laramie or just passing through on the highway. (Photo gallery at bottom)
Brief History of the Wyoming Territorial Prison
The Wyoming Territorial Prison began humbly enough in 1872 with enough space for about 4 dozen prisoners. The prisoners, however, found themselves with a little more space after nearly a quarter of the prisoners had escaped within the first two years of the prison’s existence.
Eventually, the escapees were replaced with new prisoners, and by the late 1870s, the prison was actually overcrowded. The busyness wouldn’t last.
When the feds rolled in to inspect the prison in the 1880s, the prisoner population had dwindled to less than a dozen inmates. Instead of closing the prison, the feds expanded the prison with a second cellblock capable of housing another 150 inmates. A central kitchen, dining hall, and other improvements were also added.
The expanded Wyoming Territorial Prison saw only a little more than a decade of activity as it was transferred to state control and eventually closed in 1903.
The property was then given to the University of Wyoming for agricultural and livestock research until 1989. A couple years later, the prison was opened to tourists.
During its run as a territorial and later state prison, the facility housed both men and women convicted of almost everything up to murder. Those convicted of murder were housed and executed elsewhere. (Probably due to the relative ease of escape in the early days of the prison.)
Of those locked in cells here, perhaps none is more notorious than Butch Cassidy. The famed outlaw spent roughly 18 months at the prison for stealing horses in the late 1800s, his only prison stint. Cassidy formed his “Wild Bunch” gang of criminals shortly after his release.
Touring the Wyoming Territorial Prison
Open from April to October, the Wyoming Territorial Prison is a perfect way to stretch your legs for a few hours while driving the highway or a nice addition to your planned Wyoming adventure.
At only $5, it’s also one of the biggest bargains we’ve run across in a very long time.
The self-guided tour is packed with fascinating artifacts, eerie jail cells, and more.
From the stories of Butch Cassidy to outlaw women of the old west, the prison does an excellent job of telling the stories of the folks who lived and worked inside the prison walls.
Needless to say, you’ll be stopping to read each and every little sign, story, and placard.
If you find yourself in or near Laramie, WY with a couple hours to spare, Wyoming Territorial Prison is the place to be.
975 Snowy Range R
Laramie, WY 82070