Crime Junkies: Pay a Visit to these 5 Historic Former Jails in CO
From notorious Western outlaws to unruly drunken miners, the criminals who landed behind bars in Colorado jailhouses during the 1800s and early 1900s were a much different crowd compared to those locked up nowadays. If only walls in these old buildings could talk, there'd be a slew of interesting and scandalous stories to tell.
While Coloradans may no longer be able get first-hand accounts from jailbirds back in the day, several of the buildings themselves are still standing, giving people the opportunity to pay a visit.
Located in Kiowa County, the Haswell Jail is recognized as being the smallest jail in the USA. The jail was built in 1921, and the tiny 14x16 feet structure only had enough space to hold four criminals at a time. At times when robbers and unruly citizens weren't being detained, the jail doubled as an impromptu poker room for the men in town, where they would gather when they wanted to get out of the house. Haswell Jail stopped being used in the 1940s, but the original building still exists on the south side of 3rd Street, those traveling through the small town are welcome to stop and check it out.
A skilled stonemason named Archie Scherer constructed the Westcliffe Jail in 1888, using fieldstone that he collected locally in Colorado. Inmates were incarcerated here until the mid-1920s, but the one-story building mainly served as the town's drunk tank. An interesting secret about this jail - when Scherer built it, he purposely did not use mortar on one section of the wall, making it so the stones were removable. When Scherer himself had to spend 10 days in the Westcliffe Jail, he was actually using this hidden feature to sneak out at night and sleep in his own bed. The Westcliffe Jail was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1993 and you can visit the building at 116 2nd Street in Westcliffe.
Crested Butte Jail
Built circa 1883, the Crested Butte Jail was another very tiny facility that only had two cells inside. Its thick and sturdy walls were constructed using stone from a local quarry. On more than one occasion, prisoners actually found refuge being incarcerated here because outside of the jail's door, angry townspeople were rioting to have them killed. The Crested Butte Jail is now part of the Crested Butte Historic District and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Pueblo's First Jail/Police Station (now the Station on Riverwalk Hotel)
Pueblo's first jail/police station served the town from the 1940s to 2010. Since then, the building has been repurposed into a boutique hotel called Station on the Riverwalk, but much of the original character remains. One of the guestrooms (called cells) even has the original bunk beds from the facility. Read more about the jail's second life here or book a room and stay there for yourself.
Loveland Prison Jail Cell (located at Masonville Mercantile)
Although this historical building in northern Colorado isn't actually the site of a former jail, when one of the owners of Masonville Mercantile personally renovated the store, he added an old jail cell that was originally in the Loveland Prison. The cell on the south corner of the porch is accompanied by mugshots of infamous Colorado criminals. Visitors are encouraged to stop by the quirky store and step inside the jail cell, which can be found at 9120 N. Co Rd 27 in Masonville.