Prison Building The prison was constructed in 1872, running as a Territorial Prison until 1890 when Wyoming became a state. In 1890, the facility was reorganized as the Wyoming State Penitentiary. For 30 years, the building held notorious outlaws like Butch Cassidy, Dan Parker, Clark “the Kid” Pelton, and Ellijah Canary. Over 1,000 men and 12 women of various nationalities, religious backgrounds and occupations passed through the iron grate doors.
Inmates were transferred to a new facility in Rawlins, Wyoming in the summer of 1903 and the old prison became a stock farm for the University of Wyoming. The University of Wyoming ran the facility as an experimental stock farm until 1989 when a group of Laramie citizens rallied to have the building restored. After $5 million and a transfer of the property, the prison opened as a historic site in 1991.
In 2004, the management of the property was restructured under Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources.
The Warden’s House was built in 1875 by prison labor. Initially constructed as a duplex, it housed both the warden, his family, and the guards until 1889. When the administrative section of the prison was added, the guards moved into the prison and the house was remodeled for single family use.
The Warden’s House was restored in 2007 and interior staging completed in 2009. Furnishings reflect the early 1890s period when James Marsh and his oldest children lived in the home. Research on the various wardens and their families is ongoing.
The Broom Factory ran at the Wyoming State Prison in Laramie from 1892 until 1902 when the equipment was moved to the new prison in Rawlins where it was used until the 1910s. During its heyday, the factory, run solely on prison labor, was producing 720 brooms a day. Brooms were shipped from Laramie to communities within Wyoming, Nebraska, California, Utah, Montana, Minnesota, South Dakota, Colorado and Idaho and internationally to Honolulu, Yokohama, Japan and Hong Kong.
The Broom Factory underwent intensive restoration in 2006-2009. Its grand re-opening was held May 2, 2009 and is open to the public 8 to 7, seven days a week. Interpreters greet visitors and those who have time can assist in the making of a broom on replicas of the original broom making equipment.
Horse Barn Exhibit Hall: “Science on the Range”
The Horse Barn was constructed in 1910 by the University of Wyoming. True to its name, it housed horses for the stock farm. The building was remodeled in the early 1990s to make room for an exhibit hall.
In 2012, a new permanent exhibit was installed which details the story of the University of Wyoming Experiment Station (1903-1989) . Visitors will learn about the importance of agricultural experiments in the context of the state.
Box Car House
This house was constructed from a railroad boxcar. Originally purchased from the Union Pacific Railroad, it was used by the prison for many years as an out-building inside the stockade. In 1905 the University of Wyoming, having acquired the property for an agriculture experiment station, moved the boxcar to its current location and converted it into a home for its employees – mainly for the Sheep Herdsman. It was remodeled to include a bedroom, living room, porch, and kitchen. Today, the “Shepherd’s Quarters” features an introduction to Wool Science conducted at the experiment station.
Saint Mary’s of the Plains Episcopal Church opened its doors Easter Sunday, 1920. Originally located in Rock River, Wyoming, the small country church served as a school, community center, and worship place for many denominations before the town declined in size the 1980s. It sat empty for many years before the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming donated it to the site in 2003. For the next two years, a group of hard working and dedicated volunteers lovingly restored the church. From making repairs in the roof and floor to tracking down artifacts and the stories of its members, the staff and volunteers have embraced their role as caretakers of St. Mary’s of the Plains. Re-dedicated on June 11th, 2005, the church is open for visitors of all ages, faiths, and backgrounds. If you are interested in renting the church for a wedding or special event, please contact Deborah Amend at 307-745-6161 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Historic structures from the Chimney Rock Ranch were relocated to the Wyoming Territorial Prison grounds to interpret the rich ranching history of Albany County and Wyoming. Exhibiting traditional log architecture and homesteading artifacts, this display invites visitors to imagine life in Territorial Wyoming from the viewpoint of the ranchers and farmers who settled here in the 1880s and 1890s. On display is a homestead cabin and school house.