yuma territorial prison

Yuma Territorial Prison

The only thing we knew about Yuma, AZ is what we watched in the movie 3:10 to Yuma. This tale of the Wild West put the infamous Yuma Territorial Prison on our must see list.

At first glance the prison seems like just another historic building.  It’s not beautiful or amazing architecture that made this place interesting.  It’s the life and stories these walls have witnessed.  As we wander the cells and learn more about the prisoners, we gain an appreciation for this little prison in the middle of nowhere.

The prison accepted its first inmate in 1876, operated for 33 years, housed 3,069 prisoners and 29 of those being women.  Sentences ranged from crimes of murder to polygamy (not a lot has changed). 111 people died while serving time but never from execution.  It was considered by the locals as “the Country Club on the Colorado” because of its modern technology such as electricity, running water and flush toilets.  In 1909, the prison transferred its last prisoner to the new Arizona State Prison in Florence.

yuma territorial prison

Here comes my favorite part…From 1910 to 1914 the Yuma High School occupied the building!  I didn’t always love school, but this would have brought a whole new dimension to education! To top it off, the school’s mascot was the “Criminals” with a picture of a hardened criminal, and the student merchandise shop was known as the Cell Block.  The school is no longer at the prison but the mascot and merchandise shop still remains.

If you have any travel plans in or near Arizona, this prison and the town are worth a stop.  Just make sure you watch the movie before you go, it helps set the mood!

Famous for my "how-not-to" videos, and typically the man behind the camera, sometimes I’m forced to be here in the “spotlight”. When you see my face you’re probably reading something more technical than adventurous, but either way I do my best to tell it like it is and infuse my opinions into the commentary…after all this is a blog and not MSN.

Comments (11)

  • Armor Todd

    I thought the interesting thing was that the prisoners preferred to be confined in their cells; those very dark, dreary cells, than forced to go outside because it was cool inside and absolutely blazing hot in the sunshine.

  • Keri

    I Love places like this! I never thought about camping in AZ. Looks pretty neat! Did you watch 3:10 to Yuma while you were there? Ha ha!

  • Andrew

    I am from Yuma and I think its cool you guys stop by to check out the prison. Dowtown yuma is hisortical. Also if you are still there eat at Mr.G its the best mexican food in Yuma. Somewhere off the 95 outside of Yuma is the “bridge to nowhere” its like a replica of the Golden Gate Bridge but this one takes you to no where lol. Enjoy your travels!

  • My name has a link to our blog with most of the info on our rig, our decisions to hit the road and also how we chose MiniPearl. I did over two years worth of research on types of rvs lots to learn and choices are so individual, never one type fits all, that’s for sure. We don’t watch tv, but do see favorite shows on the internet and a friend told me there was a House Hunters episode with an rv theme, so I looked it up and found you that way! I thought for sure you would go with the Winnebago 😉 Please have a look at our blog and I will be keeping up with your travels as well. Best wishes!

  • mary

    I can’t believe that a high school actually held their classes inside a prison. Kind of cool, kind of creepy! I bet those kids have better stories to tell to their children than me!

  • Hi there, just found your site and enjoy your posts and info! I see you will be in Cary in May! That is where we live….but by then we will be out of town beginning our year(s) on the road in a much smaller rig. Wondering why Cary???? It is a great place tho.
    Best to you, Cathy

  • Gwyn

    Hi, it was fun seeing you at Point South ( John & I have the Trek). I thought you were on your way to NC and then to the East Coast. Guess I was wrong reading this. Should you make it back east this summer do give us a call and stop by for a visit to Annapolis.
    Take care, happy travels.
    While we were at the prison I got some great photos of the knitting that was done there by the inmates.

  • paul van

    Interesting history and a great movie. It’s hard to believe running water and flush toilets in a prison in Arizona in the 1800’s.


Post a Comment