Wyoming Frontier Prison, Rawlins, Wyoming. Photo courtesy of Wyoming Frontier Prison


500 West Walnut, Rawlins, Wyoming

Construction of Wyoming’s first state penitentiary began in 1888, although the facility now known as the Wyoming Frontier Prison did not open until December 1901,* about 18 months after the former Wyoming Territory became the 44th state of the United States of America. The prison housed more than 13,000 inmates — both men and women — over its 80 years of operation. It was closed in 1981 when the new Wyoming State Penitentiary opened (located a few miles south). The old prison sat vacant until 1987 when it was used for the filming of a horror film called “Prison.” The following year a joint powers board assumed ownership of the former penitentiary, renamed it the Wyoming Frontier Prison, and established a museum. Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, the old prison has more than 15,000 visitors each year.

*Prior to the opening of the penitentiary in Rawlins, the Wyoming Territorial Prison was located in Laramie (Wyoming Territorial Prison Historic Site). The penitentiary in Laramie was first a federal prison (1872 to 1890), then operated as Wyoming State Penitentiary (from 1890 to 1903).

More information:  Wyoming Frontier Prison or (307) 324-4422

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