Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Great Escape - Day 2: Wyoming Frontier Prison and an overnight in Lander.

After an uneventful night in the RV (glad I decided to deploy the catalytic propane heater, it got cold enough), we woke with the sun and broke camp after a leisurely breakfast.

We drove on to Rawlings and visited the Wyoming Frontier Prison Museum.  The guided tour is $10 a person and it's worth it.  Good tour with some good information.  Even Patrick was motivated to ask questions.

 A picture of the prison when it was being used.

 It hasn't changed much, more additions to be sure as 
it grew but the main section remains the same.


The museum itself is free to look around but it's quite small and includes displays of the Peace Officer Museum.  Take the guided tour, you get to see the prison blocks.

Here's a view of Block A.  It was quite cool inside, even though it was warm sunshine outside.  Environmental conditions for the prisoners were not good, to put it lightly.

We toured two more blocks and then walked through the mess hall with its bolted onto the floor metal furniture.  The artwork on the walls was done by one of the prisoners.


Here's a view of the Julien Gallows mechanism.  The platform on top is where the prisoner sentenced to death by hanging stood in the floor above.  The collapsible timbers would be yanked out of support by the rope you see.


To spare a guard or executioner the angst of actually pulling a lever to activate the above mechanism; water would be placed into the bucket seen below, as it drained it would reach the point where counter-weights would be activated, pulling the rope and removing the support from underneath the prisoner's weight.


Here's the chamber where the prisoner to be hung stood.  The eyelet above Martha is the original eyelet to which the hangman's noose was attached.  The platform, demonstrated secure by the tour guide first, is stood upon by Martha.


Also in the Death Row building, was what eventually replaced the gallows as the instrument of death for prisoners given the death penalty.  The Gas Chamber.

 A bit morbid yes, but you can picture how
the prisoner sat inside before the locked him
into the sealed chamber and he waited for death


A good tour, and a good motivator to stay out of prison!  The prison is quite large but it's delapidated conditions in the other sections precluded our touring them due to safe concerns.

On an unrelated note, the museum also houses several antelope statues, mostly colorfully painted.  This one caught my eye due to its detail and depth.


After the museum tour, we left Rawling and had lunch at the side of US 287 shortly afterwards.

We then drove towards Lander, Wyoming on US287, arriving sometime before 4PM after a bit of wandering lost due to both googlemaps and Waze app having problems finding the Lander City Park.

They allow RVs to dry camp in the park for a maximum of three days for free, such a deal.

 Lander City Park, next to which flows the Middle Popo Agie River.
The name is native american for "Gurgling River"

Later on, Martha and I headed out on Wyoming Highway 131 towards Sinks Canyon State Park.  However, as we entered the park we found ourselves exiting it almost within 2 minutes!  Then we were within the Shoshone National Forest.

The nicely paved and twisty road climbed ever higher until we reached Frye Lake.  There was RV camping at the lake but we didn't wander next to it to check for cellular signal.

The sunset was not going to be a colorful one so we elected to drive back into town, stopping a couple of times for pics but ending up with only this one worth publishing:


Back in Lander, we returned to the City Park and Martha cooked us dinner and we settled in for an early night.  Tired.  Tomorrow, the Grand Teton National Park.

5 comments:

RichardM said...

The Lander City Park looks like a pretty nice place. No overnight parking at the museum?

SonjaM said...

Ten bucks doesn't sound overpriced to me, given what you got to see (as morbid as it might be). Not sure if I would have a seat in the gas chamber though...

dom chang said...

RichardM, we didn't look for overnight parking.....ha hah

SonjaM, the fee was quite reasonable for the tour...I had originally thought it was $10 just for the small museum area. I chose to not sit in the gas chamber seat.

Kari Kropf said...

It would be interesting to tour the prison, but the gas chamber - creepy!

dom chang said...

Kari....the chamber was a bit on the freaky side.....the stuff they used to pump in to execute the prisoner was caustic enough to erode the rubber seal over time....yikes.