Old Truckee Jail

Happy Friday, everyone! Have a rip-roarin’ weekend, but not so fun you wind up in a jail like this one in Truckee, California.

Built September 1875, the Old Jail was in continuous use until 1964.

It is one of few remaining 19th century jailhouses in the West and one of few existing original buildings in Truckee. The structure is a survivor, standing strong through several fires that swept through town in the early days.

According to the http://www.truckeehistory.org, “Although jails are usually sturdy, Truckee’s is a virtual strongbox. The original building consisted of just the lower level, constructed of native stone. The walls are 32 inches thick at the lower level, with no windows unless one counts the small vents for each cell, which are set with irregular rows of two-inch steel bars. The ceilings are plate steel, insulated with dirt, and lined with narrow gauge railroad tracks. All doors are riveted steel, weighing an estimated 200 pounds each. 

The need for a jail in Truckee was proposed in August 1873. At the time the only place to hold prisoners was a calaboose in the center of Brickelltown that proved inadequate to house the number of rowdy “guests” consigned there by local lawmen.”

“The first prisoner was named William Hart, who got himself involved in a nasty brawl on Jibboom Street and was subsequently arrested by Constable Jake Teeter on September 22, 1875. Six days later a friend paid his bail and he was released, only to return a month later after starting another free-for-all in one of the local saloons. 

Through the years, the old Bastille has held some of the old west’s most notorious characters (see images below), including “Baby Face” Nelson, “Ma” Spinelli and her gang. Old timers say that “Machine Gun” Kelly spent a night in the slammer after being caught shoplifting in the Truckee Variety Store.”

It now serves as a museum, offering artifacts from the jail, as well as ice harvesting, lumbering, winter sports era and box manufacturing among other topics.

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