The Yuma Territorial Prison opened in 1875 and it was closed in 1909.In 1970 the community of yuma wanted to convert the yuma territorial prison into a museum.The Legislature of 1875 proposed the bill in order to call for the establishment of a penitentiary.The “New Penitentiary” will be located next to the colorado river.Every visitor to the institution used to pay $0.25 for the privilege of inspecting the prison.On july 1,1876, the first seven persons convicted were led up prison hill and placed in their permanent quarters,which they’d helped build.
All of them were males and the first women convicted was Lizzie Gallagher in 1878.The first escape was committed by J.Lewis in 1878.The prison wasn’t use only for maintain prisoners it was also used as a hospital,library,school and used to film movies.There was a total of 9 films about the yuma territorial prison.But not all of them were successful.This were some of the most popular movies made in the yuma territorial prison : “To kill a memory” (2012) “3:10 to Yuma” (2007).This prison was know because it was a great film location.
The Yuma territorial prison had more amenities than most homes in the entire Yuma.They had electricity,ventilation,sanitation which had 2 bathtubs and 3 showers, a library with more than 2,000 books , and a prison band.Some of the builders of the Yuma Territorial prison were:William Werninger he was the sheriff of the yuma county, but he had a big responsibility for the construction of the Yuma prison.George Thurlow he was the person that expanded the prison from 2 to 4 cells and he also built a mess hall.
WIlliam Griffith he installed a second electrical plant. Thomas Rynning he undertook construction of the new prison in Florence, moving the last prisons out of Yuma in September 1909.The colorado river is located next to the yuma territorial prison which is really good because all the water that the prisoners used in the yuma territorial prison came from the river.From there water was pumped up into the 85000 gallon granite-walled tank. During all the 34 years that the prison was open, there occur some escapes some of them were failure and other ones were successful.There was a total of 138 escape attempts From the 138 attempts,96 were failures,8 were killed while trying .
There were not only attempts of escapes there was also suicides, or some of them died for fighting.The most known prisoners are :Feliciano Gomez at that time he had 23 years old and he was a laborer,he went to the dark cell for 3 days.Jesus Garcia he was 33 years old and he was a barber in the prison.He was sentenced to 10 years of prison for assault.George williams he was 41 years old,he was an engineer.He was sentenced to 20 years for murder.
E.R Haroun he was 37 years old and his occupation was printer.He was sentenced to 1 year for forgery,Maria moreno she killed her old brother at the age of 16 because she was dancing and he laugh about her and she said that she was gonna kill him if he continues laughing and he said kill me then and she got a gun a kill him instantly.Various punishments were used within the prison walls to ensure discipline was maintained.The most notorious of all the punishments was the dark cell.The “Dark cell” was a cell in where prisoners were located for breaking the rules or for the people who tried to escape.They were located in there for days just according to what they did and they were only allowed to receive water & bread once a day.
Inside the Yuma territorial prison the prisoners learned how to do different stuff.They learned how to read,write and between other stuff.In the prison were some doctors who helped the prisoners when they got sick.
Here is a list of known doctors: J.H Taggart M.D he went to the yuma prison on 1874 and he was a doctor during the civil war.
Albert D. DeCorse M.D he was a doctor on prison staff in 1876 and was the first physician in yuma county.All the doctors of Yuma joined together in order to organize the Yuma hospital association in 1917.
The building was the county hospital until 1923 when the railroad changed the rail bed from madison to the prison site-demolishing the warden’s residence to make room for “progress”.Inside the prison there was more than 21 different foreign countries including: mexico,china ,russia,ireland,germany , england etc.In January 01,1961 the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park was open to the public.They reconstructed the yuma prison so people could go and discover and look at the penitentiary.They have a museum with a lot of information of the yuma territorial prison.You can even look at utensils that the doctors used to cure the prisoners like medication.
You can find stories of famous prisoners like the story of Maria Moreno she was 16 when she killed her own brother with the age of 15 because he was laughing about her for the way she was dancing with a shotgun. The museum is not a original structure it was reconstructed after the 33 years of operation of the yuma territorial prison.