Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Old Idaho Penitentiary

Posted from Boise, ID   (Click on Pics to Enlarge)

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Yesterday we visited the Old Idaho Penitentiary located on the north east side of Boise, ID.  This is one of four Territorial Prisons open to the public in the nation.  We have visited the Yuma Prison in Arizona, but have yet to see the ones in Laramie, Wyoming and Canon City, Colorado.

The Idaho Territorial prison was completed in 1870 and accepted first prisoners in 1872.  It was operated by the federal government until Idaho gained statehood in 1890.  The penitentiary remained open until December, 1973.

As we walked to the entrance in the Administration Building, we passed by the only entrance (sally port) for vehicles in or out of the prison. The sally port was built in 1931.

After viewing an excellent introductory video on the history of the prison, we began our self-guided walking tour of the facility.  In the corner of the Admin. Building nearest the street was the Warden's Office.  The large safe contained prison records.

Passing into the inner walls of the prison was a bit of an eery feeling.  This was the Commissary Building built in 1894. It was later burned in one of the prison riots.

The Dining Hall was built in 1898 and was designed by George Hamilton, one of the inmates.  It served until 1973 when inmates burned it down during a riot of the prison.

The prison Hospital was originally used as a blacksmith shop and was remodeled in 1912 to serve as a hospital.  It served as a hospital until the 1960's and was later burned in a prison riot in 1971.

Don't be led to believe that most of the buildings are destroyed.  That's not the case at all. Here Karen takes a picture of one of the guard towers positioned on the corners of the prison walls.

One of the structures which truly gave off a "strange" feeling was a small building known as "Siberia".  This area housed twelve prisoners in a single-cell configuration.

The building was built in 1926 to house prisoners who had violated prison rules.  The cells are 3 feet by 8 feet.  Very tight.  The information indicates that they were hot in the summer and ice formed on the walls in the winter.

A large multi-purpose building constructed by prisoners in 1923 housed a shirt factory, a license plate shop, a shoe shop, a bakery, and a laundry.  Only the portion devoted to the laundry is accessible today.

The laundry contained 4 washing machines, 3 dryers, a large machine for handling sheets, and a machine used to wring excess water out of the laundry prior to drying (sorry, I can't recall the proper name).

The "North Wing" was constructed in 1899.  It contained 2-man cells and no indoor plumbing. A "honey bucket" in the corner served as a toilet. Inmates burned this building in a riot of 1973.

Here's a look at the same building.

The "South Wing", also constructed in 1899, but originally to house a shoe factory.  It was remodeled in 1928 for inmate occupancy and became the first cell house with indoor plumbing.

The largest and most recent cell house was built in 1952. Notice the changes from the older cell houses.

The newer cells housed 4 prisoners in each cell and prisoners were allowed to paint their cells.

A barber shop was re-located into one of the cells within this cell house to enable guards to more closely monitor their activities.

In 1954, a maximum security cell house was constructed to permanently house prisoners in solitary confinement.  The building also housed Idaho's "death row" and a set of gallows to carry out executions.

Ironically, Raymond Snowden was the only prisoner ever executed via hanging using these gallows as Idaho changed to lethal injection in 1957.

Here's a look at the "Drop Room".  You can see the trap door mechanism at the top of the picture.

Although the Territorial Prison opened in 1870, it was not until a Women's Ward was completed in 1920 that male and female prisoners were housed separately.

No woman was ever executed in the history of the Penitentiary.  The Women's Ward contained 7 cells holding a total of 14 women.

The Warden's House was located just outside the front entrance to the facility and housed wardens and their families from 1902-1954.




I know this blog entry was a big on the lengthy side, but I enjoyed learning about the facility and trying to imagine the conditions "back in the day".  Hopefully, I'll never have first-hand knowledge of such a facility, however.


Thanks for stopping by to take a look!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Idaho State Capitol-Boise, ID

Posted from Boise, ID      (Click on Pics to Enlarge)   

To view additional pics for this blog, click HERE to view a Google+ Album.
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View from Jefferson Street
We've moved to Boise, ID and will be spending a couple of weeks seeing the sights.
Today we decided to visit the Idaho State Capitol Building and learn a bit more about the history of Idaho and the capitol building.  Because it was Saturday, there were no government workers around, and actually very few visitors.

A quick bit of history on the Idaho capitol.  In 1863, President Lincoln signed the law that created the Idaho Territory.  The first territorial capitol was in Lewison, ID.  In 1885, the Territorial Legislature approved construction of a centralized government building in Boise, ID.  In 1905, construction of a new building began in the same area in Boise because the old building lacked amenities and necessary space.  The central section and the dome were completed in 1912. In phase II, the east and west wings were completed around 1921.  The most recent restoration project planning began in 1998, but due to financial problems the complete project was not completed for quite some time.  The Re-Dedication Ceremony was finally held on January 9, 2010.

We were very surprised to find the ease in which we were allowed to enter the building.  No metal detectors, only one uniformed security guard observed all day, and no one was around to stop us from wandering around the entire complex (unless the doors were locked).  No one at the Visitor Information Desk on the weekend.

At the base of the steps leading into the Capitol from Jefferson Street is a replica of the Liberty Bell.  It was given to the state by the U.S. Dept. of the Treasury in 1950.

A walk around the exterior revealed simple, but well-tended landscaping.  This is a few from the street looking toward the West Wing.

We really liked the view from the East Wing and eventually entered the Capitol from this side.

We entered on the Second Floor which houses the Executive Branch of Idaho's government.  The Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General offices are on this floor. Of course, no one was around on Saturday. This gave us our first view looking up at the dome from the rotunda.

There are eight huge Corinthian-styled columns which support the dome.  We thought they were solid columns, but later discovered that "they are not solid, but have a finished surface composed of scagliola--a mixture of gypsum, glue, marble dust, and granite dyed to look like marble".  Still, they were beautiful and certainly fooled me.

The Senate occupies the West Wing of the Capitol. This is a view from the Fourth Floor which allows visitor viewing via the Gallery.

The House of Representatives is housed in the East Wing and is set up similar to the Senate.  This view is on the Third Floor looking onto the floor of the House.  (Obviously, the Legislature is not in session during our visit).

Here's a picture of Karen standing in the rotunda on the Fourth Floor.  Various types of marble are used throughout the Capitol, and unlike some state capitol's we've visited, very little wood is used.

The Fourth Floor houses several statutes.  This one, George Washington Statue I found particularly interesting because it was carved out of a single piece of pine by Charles Ostner.  It was initially bronzed and presented to the Idaho Territory in 1869.  It was displayed outside until 1934 when it was brought inside due to weather damage.  It was repaired , restored, and covered in gold leaf in 1966.

This visit was very relaxing due to the few people actually "touring".  The weather was beautiful and allowed for some nice exterior pictures.  The interior of the Capitol was more elegant than many of the state capitol buildings we've visited.


Thanks for stopping by to take a look!


Monday, August 18, 2014

A Little of This, A Little of That

Posted from Post Falls, ID           (Click on Pics to Enlarge)

I can't believe it will be one week tomorrow since we left Glacier NP and traveled to Post Falls, ID (just west of Coeur d'Alene, ID).  Our intention was to come to Coeur d'Alene RV Resort for a week and do some exploring and bicycle riding of the trails in the area.

Well, the week didn't exactly turn out that way.  We arrived at the campground last Tuesday after a picturesque drive thru southwestern Montana.

The CG is nice, especially after spending the last two weeks on water and electric only.  This park seems to be very popular with campers within a few hours drive as there are many extended stay rigs in the park.

The campsites have plenty of room on each side, including a nice concrete patio and a picnic table.  The utilities are very good here.  In fact, the office warns that a water pressure regulator should be used as the pressure is high.  Our Watts unit is holding the pressure nicely at 55 lbs. psi.

The check-in area is one of the nicer ones we've encountered in awhile.  Plenty of room to pull several large rigs in at one time.



We truly have "vegged" out this week.  We didn't ride the bike paths in the area, nor did we do much sightseeing.  The week was mainly spent doing a lot of domestic-style chores including grocery shopping, cleaning up the rig,  a few maintenance chores on the rig, walking in the mornings, and yes, we did locate a couple of new pickleball courts in the area. Apparently, pickleball hasn't caught on yet in this area.  We went to the courts on Saturday afternoon and saw only one couple playing.  We returned in the hope of playing a few games with them, but they were already gone.

Tomorrow is another moving day.  We're slowing working our way back to Palm Creek Golf and RV in Casa Grande, AZ for the winter. We hope to visit several NPs in Utah and Arizona on the way back.

Thanks for dropping by to take a quick look!