One wonders what people were thinking when they committed a crime in the Arizona Territory when the prison was operating. Though considered modern at the time, being at the Yuma Territorial Prison was no picnic. Unbearably hot and crowded, the place was the home of over 3,000 men and women over its 30+ years in operation. The park, as it stands now, does a good job of interpreting the place, though much of the actual prison has been whittled away by one thing or another over the years. It stands on a promontory overlooking the (remaining) Colorado River, and has a nice (though not particularly compelling) gift shop. There are a number of interpretive signs posted, and a good (air conditioned) museum full of very interesting materials. The most interesting portion of the site is, of course, the old cell block, which is a lot of fun to explore. The dark cell, where prisoners were chained in their underwear for a variety of offense (including failure to bathe) was frightening.
As mentioned earlier, the prison is a shadow of its former self, though still worth an hour or two of your time. The staff is friendly and helpful, and refuge from the intense heat of the summer months can be found in the gift shop and museum. The admission seemed a bit high, but, state parks being where they are on the legislature's list of priorities, is about what we should expect these days, I guess. There are many good photo opportunities, both of the prison itself, and of the surrounding area.
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