Joan and Dick Morgan
We toured the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park the old prison made famous in the movie 3:10 to Yuma and other old Westerns. The prison was used from 1876 until 1909 when it became so overcrowded a new one was built in Florence because there was no room on Prison Hill to expand. Even though the prison was very modern for its time, including a library and an electric generator for lights and ventilation, it was still known as the "Hell Hole of the West". Over 3000 criminals, including 39 women, from murderers to Mormon polygamists were imprisoned there. We found it interesting that most did not serve complete terms since pardons were so easy to obtain. Most of the original walls and buildings are gone except for the main gate, guard tower and cell block that was constructed with stone and reinforced steel. There is a museum with many artifacts and stories about the inmates. After the prison closed the buildings were used for the local school resulting in the unusual mascot name they still use today, the Criminals. Unfortunately, the park is scheduled to close because of the states budget problems. Another example of governmental shortsightedness in a town with almost 25% unemployment. If it is still open, this is a neat spot to take a walk back into the wild west.