Old Idaho Penitentiary
Nestled on the outskirts of Boise, Idaho, the Old Idaho Penitentiary is a historic site that offers visitors a glimpse into the dark and intriguing world of the state's penal history. With its foreboding stone walls, guard towers, and eerie cells, this former prison, which operated from 1872 to 1973, is a captivating place for history enthusiasts and those intrigued by tales of crime and punishment.
A Notorious History
The Old Idaho Penitentiary has a rich and sometimes notorious history. Over its century-long existence, it housed a wide range of criminals, from petty thieves to cold-blooded killers. Visitors can explore the cells that once held these individuals, including infamous inmates like Raymond Allen Snowden, known as Idaho's "Jack the Ripper."
The prison consists of numerous historic buildings, each with its unique story to tell. The cell houses, the administration building, and the gallows are among the well-preserved structures that take visitors back in time to an era of harsh living conditions and tough justice.
The Old Idaho Penitentiary provides insights into the daily lives of inmates. Visitors can step into the cramped cells, see the rudimentary facilities, and learn about the challenges prisoners faced during their incarceration. The grim conditions of the maximum-security section are especially sobering.
One of the most haunting areas of the prison is the gallows, where executions took place. The chilling stories of these executions are recounted during guided tours, offering a somber reminder of the past. The prison conducted a total of ten hangings during its operational years.
The Old Idaho Penitentiary hosts special exhibits that delve into various aspects of the prison's history. These exhibits offer a deeper understanding of the legal system, the lives of the inmates, and the evolution of incarceration practices in Idaho.
For those seeking an extra dose of intrigue, the Old Idaho Penitentiary offers ghost tours. These tours take place after dark and explore the more sinister and supernatural aspects of the prison's history. They are a popular choice for those who love ghost stories and the paranormal.
The Visitor Center is a great starting point for your journey through the prison's history. It provides historical context, maps, and helpful information for self-guided tours. Knowledgeable staff are available to answer questions and guide you through your visit.
The prison's gift shop offers a selection of unique souvenirs, books, and memorabilia related to the Old Idaho Penitentiary and the state's history. It's an ideal place to pick up a memento of your visit.