Home Is Where We Park It: Rancho Rialto RV Resort, Yuma
January 17, 2020
Temperature 63 Degrees
Yuma Territorial Prison State Historical Park
Today was a stay at home day. We needed to get our taxes done. Pick up around the LV. Do some more research on the Newmar Mountain Aire. We took the time to bounce thoughts back and forth about it. We also scheduled visits to two more rigs we want to check out. We’ll probably make our decision around the first or second week of February. The hunt is always the fun part. Making the decision is the difficult part. Picking up the new rig is the oh boy look what we purchased part!
Enough of that. Let’s go sightseeing. We’re going to the
Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park. This park is part of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area. The Heritage Area is a place where historic, cultural and natural resources combine to bring Yuma’s history to life. We’ve already been to the Colorado River Park and Pivot Point Plaza and East Wetlands. This is the last park for us.
We followed the sidewalk
to the visitor center. Once we paid the price of admission
it was out the other door where we discovered this beautiful green lawn. As for that building off in the distance, come on we’re going to find out what it is.
The Sallyport. This was the way in, and the only way out – legally. It used to abut against the one prison wall. When you approached both gates were closed. The outer gates opened while the inner remained closed. Then the outer were closed and the inner were opened to allow access to the prison. This is one of the last remaining original adobe structures of the prison.
you find the museum awaiting you with all the fascinating history of the prison. This building is situated on the original site of the Prison Mess Hall.
After the prison was closed and subsequently rebuild, today’s museum was built on this site. It is constructed of 60,000 Adobe bricks using New Deal funds.
But once again I’m getting ahead of myself.
The prison actually came about through a slight of hand. When the original bill for the prison was presented to the Legislature in 1875 it designated Phoenix as the site for the new prison. Some, however, felt that it really should be built in Yuma.
This gentleman in particular wanted the prison in Yuma. So while the legislature was out to lunch he scratched out the name of Phoenix on the bill and wrote in Yuma. Back from lunch no one thought to reread the bill, a vote was taken, it was a unanimous vote for the construction of the prison in – YUMA.
The prison opened in 1876 and was in operation for 33 years.
This is a model of the prison as it used to look. It was built on a hill overlooking the junction of the Colorado and Gila Rivers. The water then was as brown as the water in the model. Look closely and you can see the Sally Port in the center of the front wall. Down in the center is a small white structure. That is the pump house that sent water to the reservoir on top of which sat the main guard tower (in the model it is the large, circular structure to the left of the sally port).
Another view of the same model. Once again you can see the Watch Tower atop the reservoir. Again, you can also see the Sally Port.
Here is a picture of the actual prison. Again, if you look carefully in this picture you can see the Sally Port, the main guard tower off to the left, and other guard towers on the walls of the prison. The main guard tower was connected to the prison by a catwalk that went from it to the top of the prison wall.
There were really two views of the prison.
The perspective of the prisoner.
The perspective of the citizens of Yuma.
The main cell block.
Look for #17, that was the main cell block with the hospital built on top of it. Next to it, #16 was the shop in which was located the electric light plant, shoe and tailor shop, laundry and bath house. Prisoners were expected to take a bath every Saturday – unless they were in the Dark Hole (more about this later).
These are two of the original cells that remain. What’s special about these? They are believed to be the first two built, built by the first seven prisoners that occupied them. That’s right, they were given the privilege of building their own cells.
I found this to be really comical. Know what it is? A chamber pot! Put here originally to demonstrate the toilet of choice for the seven prisoners who occupied each cell. Today visitors have turned it into a wishing pot.
There is more room in here then in a typical US submarine. Trust me, I know I’ve visited one in my wanderings around this great country
Wooden bunks could not be used due to termites. The straw for each bed was replaced once a week in an attempt to eliminate bed bugs.
What could put you in here? Take a look.
The one that intrigued me was prize fighting. So I did a little research and discovered: the unsavory reputation resulted in the widespread prohibition of prizefighting in the mid-nineteenth century, led by northeastern states such as New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York. Nearing the end of the nineteenth century, most states had banned prizefighting. My question, though, is Doesn’t it take two to box? What happened to the second one involved? I think I smell something fishy.
Another surprise, most of those in prison were between the age of 20 to 30. Very interesting.
There’s more to the prison but for now we’ll call it a night. It’s getting late and I need to get ready for my beauty sleep – no laughing!
Today has been another laid back day on The Road of Retirement. We did a bit of this and that. The big thing is our taxes are done and we don’t owe a dime. We talked and talked some more about what we want in a new rig. The picture is getting clearer with each discussion. We’ll know when we find it. If we haven’t already.
It’s been great having you along again. Thanks for the company and the comments. Catch you tomorrow.
These are the voyages of Graybeard and it’s two intrepid travelers. Our continuing mission: to explore as many new states as possible, to seek out new acquaintances and make new friends, to boldly go where we have never been before
See you on down the road!