Museum of Colorado Prisons


Colorado has had a number of prisons dating back to the Wild West days. To capture this history for visitors, the Museum of Colorado Prisons was built in Canon City. The museum displays a number of exhibits regarding the days, staff, and inmates of the past. Canon City is in the southern section of Colorado, just two hours from Denver.

The trip from Denver is an easy ride through Colorado Springs, and near many of the top southern destinations like the Museum of Prisons. For those interested in seeing the Royal Gorge, with its mountain railroad, Arkansas River, and beauty, it is necessary to also stop at the prison. One can spend a little time in the historical cell house which was part of the Women's Correctional Facility. The facility was built in 1935.

A little while ago the facility was renovated to bring it up to code and more modern for a tour. Now visitors can take individual MP3 or CD audio tours going through the 32 cells on site. They will learn about the days women spent in the prison from the life sized models and other objects on exhibit. For example a hangman's noose that was used as the last execution by hanging Colorado saw is hanging up at the prison. Also on display are inmate weapons and contraband that were confiscated, the gas chamber, and photographs that show the prison and those involved with it. Much of the exhibit dates back farther than the facility itself, with displays from 1871. There are even displays from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, inmate arts and crafts.

The museum offers a gift shop with books, tee shirts, and other items one might wish to take home. These souvenirs will allow anyone to remember their trip to the Museum of Colorado Prisons. One photograph visitors should look for is the Territorial Prison photograph. This photo is of the first prison to receive an inmate in Canon City. The inmate was jailed on June 13, 1871. In April 1874 the prison was transferred to Colorado state and run by the government as a state penitentiary.

Another photograph on display is prison personnel. The photo depicts the uniforms, hats, and other objects they had to wear. Some of the uniforms are actually on display as well as in the photograph.

The Museum is located on 201 North 1st Street. There is plenty of parking for all types of vehicles including buses and RV's. Summer hours of operation run from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The hours are 8:30am to 6pm daily. In the off season the hours are 10am to 5pm daily. Winter hours are 9am to 5pm Wednesday through Sunday. Winter hours start in mid October ending on April 30th. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $5 for youths. DOC employees also get in for $5. Youths are considered 6 to 12 years of age, allowing anyone younger to enter for free. There are also memberships for local residents.

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