Yuma Arizona Day Trip

Located 180 miles from Phoenix, at the Colorado and Gila Rivers, in Yuma Arizona, this historic town has been agriculturally important for hundreds of years.

A visit to the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park will give you a peek back into time. First built in 1876 by the very inmates who then took up residence. During the prison's 33 years of operation, over 3,000 prisoners, including 29 women, served time within its walls.

The Arizona Territorial Prison was one of the first Prison’s in the Nation that provided instruction in reading and writing to inmates and housed one of the first public libraries in the Arizona Territory.

Many prisoners attempted escape. Twenty-six were successful, and 8 died from gunshot wounds. Unsuccessful escapees were dealt with in classic fashion: they were chained to iron balls.

Record keeping at the prison was excellent, which will make your visit to the museum a vivid experience. Every inmate was photographed and these photographs are on site for you to view.

By 1907, the prison was severely overcrowded, and a new one was built at another location. The "campus" housed Yuma Union High School for four years, and later provided free lodging to hobos "riding the rails" in the 1920's. Homeless families took shelter in the buildings during the Depression. Only the cells, main gate and guard tower remain to give modern-day visitors a glimpse of prison life in the wild west.

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