June 28, 2012

Around town, Yuma's hidden hot spots!

Yuma Territorial Prison

Lance Cpl. Zachary Scanlon
Desert Warrior Staff

For me, museums are just another place where relics of the old are stored and stared at. I find it hard for them to grab my concentration. But recently, I found a not-so-uninteresting, interactive museum that’s not even that far off from the beaten path. The Yuma Territorial Prison is right off of Interstate 8 in downtown Yuma.

When first entering the prison, it seems like there is not a lot to it but once venturing further you will see it is more than meets the eye.

The first leg of the museum is indoors and showcases the people and artifacts from the prison such as photos of prisoners, weapons and items used in the prison. Also located in the museum was a short movie detailing exactly how life was at the prison. Coming out of there, I had a better appreciation of how rough it really was back then. I could only imagine how people survived in the blazing summer heat without electricity or how people were able to find enough food to eat when the land was barren of vegetation.

As I walked out of the air conditioned museum and back into the scorching Yuma sun, I saw the actual holding areas of the inmates. From that I realized the conditions really were terrible. These outdoor parts were where the prisoners lived. First, I walked  past the cells where they lived, which had replicated bunks in a few cells. Also saw the room that they call the “Dark Room”, which is just a dark, dank cave with a door. The living quarters were the best area of the whole museum because I could actually see and feel what it was like to be imprisoned during the 19th century.

The last part of the tour was minor, but topped it off quite well with an overview of the Colorado River and the surrounding area on top of a reconstructed guard tower.

As a whole experience, I was very skeptical at first, but the more I ventured into this aged prison from the 19th century, the more I was willing to immerse myself into its rich history.

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