Old Wyoming State Prison

Rawlins, Wyoming

The ghosts of Old Wyoming State Prison are innumerable. However, they all share a common characteristic - an unrelenting anger and jealousy towards the living.

The prison locked away its first souls on December 12, 1901. The prison was built to relinquish the prison in Laramie of overcrowding. The 5' by 7' cells, that did not contain a toilet or water, were intended to subdue a prisoner's violent tendencies. The cells had the opposite effect.

The small cramped space made the prisoners more violent and took them to the brink of insanity. Violence and murders were a daily activity. During one violent outburst a group of prisoners turned on one of their own and decided to hang him. They tied a noose around his neck and dropped him from an upper level. He choked and gagged for a few minutes until his executioners decided to have another go. They dragged him back up by the rope he was hanging from. They then dropped the man again hoping to snap his neck, instead it once again gagged and choked him. This time they left him there to die slowly of strangulation.

The guards watched in terror as the prison populace went after each others throat. The pervasive argument for allowing the violence was that it thinned out the overcrowded population. When the prisoners failed to kill each other the state of Wyoming had no problem in fulfilling that obligation.

The men waiting on death row had two types of death to look forward to...a gassing or a hanging. Both forms of execution were horrible ways to die. In the gas chamber men were strapped to a chair and hydrogen cyanide was released underneath them. They were encouraged to breathe deeply in order to end their life quickly. However, this is not a natural reaction. When the first breath of hydrogen cyanide was taken it would sting their esophagus and lungs, causing the prisoner to hold their breath. This typically caused a long and painful death.

Hanging was no better. The prison's hanging system was a poor system that often broke. The intention was to release the floor beneath the prisoner and have the noose break their neck, killing them instantly. However, the system often gave too much slack and caused the men to dangle from a rope until they strangled to death. Sometimes the system would drop the prisoner completely onto the ground. The prisoner would be forced to knowingly go to his death a second time.

When the threat of death and violence did not deter the prisoners the prison created a variety of tortures to subdue them. 'The Hole' was created in 1906. It was a small windowless room where prisoners were chained to a wall and left in complete darkness and given only enough food to keep them alive. Men were kept in The Hole for weeks at a time. While it was intended to break a man's spirit it typically broke their sanity.

Other tortures included the Oregon Boot and thumb cuffs. The Oregon Boot was a heavy steel shoe that was placed on a prisoner. It was intended to limit their mobility, which it did, but it left them as easy prey for other prisoners. Thumb cuffs were a notorious restraining device that would attach to the thumbs of each hand, putting them in close proximity to each other. This made it very difficult for prisoners to do the simplest of tasks, like eating and drinking. Out of frustration, the prisoner would typically severely break their thumbs. Many had to have their thumbs amputated after a period of wearing thumb cuffs.

Due to these tortures the prison started to be investigated in the late 1970's. In 1981 the prison was shut down for its inhumane treatment of prisoners.

Today, the prison is a popular place to take ghost tours, especially during Halloween. Many have seen dark shadowy figures lurking in the prison. People often see ghosts of prisoners staring out at them from the shadows of their cells. The sound of men yelling and screaming can be heard in unoccupied areas of the prison.

People have also witnessed strange activity of moving objects. Guards and tourists have been shocked when something is thrown at them out of one of the empty cells. At times small dead animals, such as mice and birds, have been at thrown at wandering tourists.

The ghosts of the violent prisoners seem to be hanging on to their violent ways. In fact, many tour guides will not go into the area known as 'The Hole'. There have been reports of dangerous spirits that occupy 'The Hole'. Apparently, it is common to leave with scratches and painful bites from something unseen.

Many have captured strange figures on film while visiting the prison.

Some that have visited the prison have vowed never to return again due to its oppressing feeling of hate and darkness.

comments Comments & Discussion
Tell us about your paranormal experience, share new information, or ask questions about Old Wyoming State Prison below.

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2 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.

Justin Irish
Oct 10, 2012 7:11pm [ 1 ]

I am looking at bringing a group of teenagers from our church youth group for a haunted tour on Oct 27th. Is this a possibility? and how much is it per person?

Thank you,

Justin Irish

Bruce Russell
Sep 15, 2013 8:55pm [ 2 ]

I would like information about a prisoner that was in The Rawlins State Penn in 1973. He made two guitars.one was sold & the other given as a gift to one of the officers that worked there.The mans name is Ross Blanton.He made these guitars.I would like to get in contact with him if I could.I have one of these guitars.It has been in my possession 40 years.I would like to know what it is worth today! Any information would be appreciated. Thank you!

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