Haunted Places: Yuma Territorial Prison

March 21, 2017

Hello Everyone,

I might have forgotten to mention that the haunted places I am currently doing all reside in Arizona. Maybe after a few more you might have guessed it for any of you who are locals. This week we are going to discuss another place that I have had the pleasure of visiting. The Yuma Territorial Prison.

A Good Location for a Prison:

Many of you familiar with the cities in Arizona, have most likely heard of Yuma. Bordering California it sits as far west as one can almost go in Arizona. Although many think of the sand dunes immediately when the think of Yuma there is other ecosystems there as well. Lush tributaries break off from the Colorado River providing good soil and water resources for farming.

Because of this water in the middle of such an arid climate the area could sustain life. And what better place for a half way point then Yuma during the heights of the railway days. Centered between the booming cities along California’s coast and Arizona cities like Tucson, Tombstone and Bisbee, it was a prime destination.

Of course with all this travel and travelers there was the crime. Because it was so separated from the other cities and in such a desolate area it served as a good choice for a prison. Even if there were escapes it was a tough trek through the arid desert to survive your escape. Constant river watch along the Colorado made it hard for anyone to risk taking that route down to Old Mexico with an adequate water supply. Low brush and scattered areas of trees and any large rocks made hiding hard as well. And if that isn’t enough the mountains that border the area are full of jagged rocks and very little vegetation. Reaching the mountains would simply mean that you had to climb over them to reach any form of salvation.

Yuma Territorial Prison, Haunted?

Yuma Territorial Prison was exactly what the name states. A prison for the territory surrounding Yuma. It opened its doors in 1876 and the first inmates were actually required to build their own cells. Kind of makes you wonder if you would build it good to be more comfortable or not so you could find better ways to escape. Still, I am sure they were monitored during their progress.

The prison housed more than 30,000 people in its time and eventually was closed due to overcrowding. Like many of the asylums and hospitals that were recently mentioned in prior posts, we know that overcrowding leads to harsh conditions. Things go unnoticed, unnecessary suffering occurs. Disease runs rampant and the sorrows of those condemned sometimes find a better way of venting in the afterlife than in this life.

And what a better place than a place filled with those who were tormented spirits in this world before leaving their life filled bodies.

One area of the prison that I am sure my brother and I will never forget from our trip there when we were younger was the Dark Cell.

The Dark Cell is a room with a grated floor. The only way in, is the one guarded door on the ground and the small peep hole on the ceiling. Also barred and too high to reach. The room could be closed up into absolute darkness, even on the brightest of days. The steel grate floor made it uncomfortable to sleep of find any way to situate yourself in comfort. It is said that some of the guards would take pleasure in dropping some of the deserts more unforgiving creatures through this top porthole while inmates were inside.

Haunted? Well, if you ask me it sets itself up to be a prime candidate for some after life activities. I was too young to remember or pay attention to any particular feelings of a presence but maybe sometimes that’s the best way to feel a haunting. To not look for it. Makes you wonder if that tour guide dressed up as an old prison guard was in fact a tour guide. Kind of funny and kind of eerie.

Thanks for Reading,

Joshua Crane Dowidat

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