You are here

Colorado State Penitentiary

-A A +A
1869. West end of Main St. at 1st St.

An octagonal stone guard tower overlooks the curve in U.S. 50, and other stone guard huts and observation posts command the hill above this prison. The state penitentiary was sited, not accidentally, against a hogback of lime and sandstone. This location made it possible to put prisoners to work on the traditional rock pile, quarrying the beige sandstone not only for their own confinement but also for buildings throughout the town. The lime was sold for smelter flux and used to build paved roads with convict labor statewide. Before the practice was abandoned, prisoners built many roads, including Cañon City's spectacular Skyline and Royal Gorge scenic drives.

The Women's Prison, a two-story stuccoed stone compound, was rehabilitated as the Colorado Territorial Prison Museum in 1988. Its thirty-two cells are now crowded with exhibits of prison industries, such as quarrying and making license plates, and with examples of “behavioral control devices.”

Writing Credits

Author: 
Thomas J. Noel

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.

, ,