Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Moving Right Along ......

Things are moving at a pretty fast pace.  We did visit the Colorado State Prison, a once maximum security facility, now downgraded to minimum.  The latest and greatest in Federal prisons now lives about ten miles down the road in Florence, housing guys like the Green River Killer and McVey before he met his end.  I'll get to that in a minute.

In the meantime, we packed up and moved on up to Alamosa.  The road follows this canyon, a twisting turning 25-45 mph headache.  The scenery made up for it though ... it was a gorgeous sunny 80 degree day.

We followed the river most of the way down, or up as the case may be.  We were going straight for that 9,000 foot high pass.

 As the canyon opened up a bit, we saw snow still on the mountains from the week before. 

About this time, I started losing power ... baby was having a hard time breathing just like me.  

Up the pass we went and finally hit the long downhill through a huge valley into Alamosa.  Our original plan was to ride the Rio Grande Scenic railroad, but alas, they have moved into bankruptcy.  Too bad because the little town depended on that tourist dollar.

So here we are back at the prison.  Luckily no one found this to be their new living quarters.  

Originally, men and women were housed together next door, guarded by that tower which is still in operation every single day.  Of course that caused some problems, so they moved the women to this building, adding bars on all the windows.  This is now the museum.

For your viewing pleasure, here's the gas chamber they used up until Colorado abolished the death penalty.

Inside, the women were kept in these very small cells.  They were allowed to decorate them with crocheted curtains and artwork.  See that sawhorse looking thing?

Here's how it was used in the old days.  Corporal punishment with a big leather belt was meted out to a prisoner tied down to the old grey mare.  Yikes!!!

Downstairs in what used to be the chow hall, the prisoners have set up an entire art gallery of current prison art.  Some of these guys are pretty talented.  Most here are either going to be paroled soon or are at the end of their life sentences and will never leave.

Pretty amazing stuff.  

 Many movies have been made here, the first and most well known was Canon City about their 1929 riot that killed 18 guards and many inmates.  I admit, I've never heard of it.  However, the likes of John Wayne and others spent many days here punching out movies. 

 Also downstairs is the kitchen where the ladies prepared all their own food, which consisted mostly of soup or stew in that huge vat cooker on the right.

 They were also required to do all their own laundry in these huge washers.  It must have been stifling down there with all that heat and moisture.

 Those that died in prison received a less than regal sendoff.  They were dumped in a box (this is actually one of them) and taken out to the cemetery where they were UN-ceremoniously buried WITHOUT the box.  It was brought back for the next guy.

 So there you have it.  Prison life in Canon City.  Since arriving in Alamosa, I have had close encounters with alligators and ate my fill of some amazing stew.  That's coming up next.


  1. Beautiful pictures of the drive and the prison! We were there in 1997 and Ken bought an inmate made wallet at the gift shop. He didn't get rid of it until about a year ago, it was that well made! Gotta love the colors on the museum and gas chamber. So sad about the train in Alamosa! I think that's the one where Michael Martin Murphey did performances in the summer time. :(

    1. It IS sad ... the town is trying to come up with something that will keep it going. They have lots of volunteers, but it's the track upkeep that's shutting it down.

  2. More history into the not so good old days. Hopefully things in the prison are a little more human.
    Always bad when something that helps support a town ceases to exist.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

    1. Interestingly enough, this prison is responsible for the idea of rehab. The warden let them play music, make furniture and paint pictures, all of which are on display.

  3. I'll bet the new prison has all sorts of things which makes it more of a resort compared to that prison.

    1. Actually the new one is for the worst of the worst. They spend 23 hours a day in their cells, only one to a cell. They have El Chapo and the like.

  4. Replies
    1. Isn't it gorgeous Elva? I sure would have liked to do some fishing in that river.