Old Idaho Penitentiary, Boise

Leaving Twin Falls this morning we are headed up Hwy 84 towards Washington.

Boise, Idaho – land of the potato. We stopped here for lunch and a quick trip to the Old Idaho Penitentiary State Historic Site.

In the 1870's with the gold mine boom, crime began to be on the uprise and so with nowhere to house these criminals the Territorial Prison came into being.

The turnkey building or administration building (the entrance to the penitentiary museum) was built in 1893. He turnkey guard made sure other guards attending the yard and inmates could keep an eye on how long guards were out there and if they had been out there too long would go to find out where and if anything had happened to them.


He also controlled the wait/walk and gate entrance for prisoners who were seeking entry for visitation.

1870's with the mining also brought more crime, so the territorial building was built in 1870.

Over the 101 year history there were 500 hundred escape attempts but only 90 were successful. If they didn't get out of Idaho Territory as per Al Priest (?) then it wasn't considered successful, even though he was more than some 200miles west of the penitentiary.


The 2 House (North Wing) was built in 1899 but held no prisoners until 1911. If I have it right, the 3 House (South Wing) also built in 1899 only housed prisoners in the early 1920's.

The first was your more 'rustic' prison experience. Two per cell, one chamber pot also known as a 'honey bucket' (eeeww!) in those days. No sanitation or plumbing it housed 160 inmates, so 80 honey buckets, that could be thrown at guards if they weren't careful and 4 floors, low railings, guards had to be on their guard of being pushed off the balcony also. Heating and cooling was next to non existent.

The second gave prisoners a more comfortable feel with amenities including plumbing and heating. Pastel colours to the cell walls were introduced in the hopes of having calming effects on prisoners.

It also included a private barber cell so inmates didn't have access to scissors and razors etc if out in the open. The guards would have to let each inmate in and out of the barber cell, pat them down before allowing to re enter the general cells.


The dining hall built in 1898 was designed by inmate George Hamilton. It was said that if he did a good job for the warden he would obtain an early release. Of course he did do a beautiful job. It contained a plunge bath for 6-8 men at a time, storerooms, a bakery and the main dining hall.

The dining hall in those days contained long dining tables. Prisoners were not allowed to speak to each other or even turn their heads and was the same into the early 1900's when they changed it to round tables and allowed conversation.

Hamilton got his release but was told he must leave Idaho and was never to return again. Now whether he got out and the. Realised he didn't know what to do outside of prison life, or the thought of not returning to Idaho it is said that the day before he was to catch a train after being released, he actually committed suicide.


Where the rose garden is now situated, used to be the gallows. Ten executions by hanging were carried out at the penitentiary and six were carried out in this garden.

The building known as Siberia was for prisoners put into solitary confinement. If you ended up there you were stripped of all clothing except for felt slippers. The hole in the floor was the toilet and the hole in the ceiling was your only air and light. It's narrow about twice my width and prob 6ft in length. The longest confinement was 7 months. An inmate was given his oatmeal one morning and when dishes were taken away he kept a his spoon and wouldn't give it back. So the guards said he would stay in until the spoon was returned. Seven months later he gave the spoon back and was allowed out.


The youngest inmates to serve here were 10 and 11. The 10yr olds father owned a bar and got into a fight with a patron. When his Dad asked for his gun the kid decided he could do one better, got the gun and actually shot the guy. The Warden took pity on him, so instead of being in with the general population he was allowed to live with the Warden's family on the prison grounds. He became a good baseball player on the grounds and I think the tour guide said that when the warden left the prison the young man was not re incarcerated. Missed the last bit of that part of the story.

In the 1950's cell block inmates were able to have a little more freedom, they were allowed their choice of colours (if all 4 inmates could agree) on their cell walls. They also had better access to leather crafting and woodworking tools, hence the padded headboards and toilet seats etc.

They had a basketball team and a baseball team. The 'away' games ceased after one inmate jumped from a train during an away game so after that their were only ever 'home' games. Both teams were the 'Outlaw's' and that name still stands with one of the parks or stadiums today.


Anyway after the outlaw jaunt in Boise we made a pit stop in Nampa. We were going to go to the Warhawk Museum but of course it's Monday! Bloody well shut! Hopefully we will get back there to see it. So headed onwards to Baker City, Oregon. The home of the Oregon Trail and a hundred historic buildings.


This is where we will spend the night before heading up the road further and into Washington by tomorrow night.

See ya!

Kat xo






Magic In The Valley

This years Idaho State Championships hosted by The Snake River Western Shooting Society presented Magic In The Valley – Magic Medicine Show.


One of their members Idaho Calliope Kid built a little medicine man wagon and the ladies, Missy Mable (also Match Director), Sweet Harmony and a few others (I'm sorry I don't have their names) came up with some priceless medicinal labels for bottles of varying shapes and sizes which became the side match and costume prizes.


The stages were well written, based around various medicinal concoctions and remedies from back in the 1800's. There were little signs almost everywhere and their decorating of stages definitely added to the atmosphere.

Thursday was side match day that started with a 1911 match, then we had speed events and onto warm up match. After shooting the 1911, hands were back into single action mode and ready to go.


Friday's 6 stages went well, great weather, great posse. Our Posse – Allen Street Contessa, Colter's Girl, Idaho Bad Company, Idaho Dusty Dawn, Idaho White Rider, Jackaroo, Kathouse Kelli, Kid Colter, Li'l Shotz, Marshal Stone, Missy Mable, Pintail Bandita, Silver Shadow and Twelve Mile Reb. Clean for me and 1 miss for Jack.

After lunch we had couples – real and odd – and then a four man team event. Jack and I won the couples, Colorado Blackjack and I were 2nd in the odd couples. Jackaroo, Waddell Red, Sweet Harmony and Idaho Shady Layne won 2nd place in the team event.


Friday afternoon we hung around, cleaned guns and the car whilst waiting for a visit at the airport. Airport? You ask. Well here's why.

One of the cowboy shooters, Lefty Way, works for a company called Airpower Unlimited, and is part of a restoration team for old planes.

Yes, I'm talking Corsair's, Mustang's and more.

He took a handful of us to go see a Corsair they have been restoring. There is also a Mustang sitting in the shed. Well pilots, and wanna be pilots drool. The guys loved it and asked all the technical questions and even for Second Fiddle Sue and I, it was a sight to behold.

The Corsair is one of around 30-40 Corsairs left in the world, (most were used for the series Baa Baa Black Sheep if you've seen it, we haven't) having spent most of its time in Hawaii it didn't actually see war time as such. Now it is privately owned and once fully restored will go back to its owner in Washington (?) to his museum and personal flight enjoyment.


It is also one of the last models of the series to be made with 3 blades. Her paint work has been colour matched and finished to the original Fed specs/technical order. During WWII there were around 12,000 made.

Lefty said it is one of the most complex aircraft they work on, even compared to the Mustang's. They've been working on this one on and off for 11 and a half years – approx 38,000 man hours so far.

It was spectacular, thanks Lefty Way! As you can imagine Jack thoroughly enjoyed it and had to get a picture with the Mustang as this is what his Dad flew during WWII in England.


Anyway, back to our featured program.

Saturday and we get into the last day, 6 stages. Same finish, Jack 1 miss and me clean! Yippee! Only 3rd clean match ever, actually maybe 4th, think I had one clean match at Chisholm Trail (AUS).


Saturday night was banquet and awards.

Jack finished 3rd in Senior, congrats to 1st Place, Jeremiah Jonathon; 2nd Place, JT Wild; 4th Place, Gem Hunter and 5th Place, Mizpah Pete.

For Lady Wrangler, I finished 1st Place and a big congratulations to 2nd Place, Sweet Harmony; 3rd Place, Ruby Q Hammer and 4th Place, Colter's Girl.

Top honours overall went to Colorado Blackjack 1st Place, Kuna 2nd Place and the Idaho State Mens Champion and Twelve Mile Reb 3rd Place. I finished 1st Lady overall in 9th place and Jack finished 11th overall. Finishing 17th overall and Idaho State Ladies Champion is Belinda Belle. Congratulations to all who played!


Sunday was the shootout won by JT Wild for the men's, Tadpole for the juniors and myself for the ladies.

However, I am embarrassed to say that it should have been Missy Mable. The video ref says so when Jack and I watched it back (I nearly died), an absent minded moment which should have been called on by the spotters and declared by myself, so I put in a call of apology to Missy Mable. That's what cowboys and cowgirls should do, it's the cowboy way. 'Nuf said.

Once again a hearty congratulations to all those with the Snake River Western Shooting Society for putting on an entertaining, well put together match. We thoroughly enjoyed it and the perfect shooting weather! It truly was magic!


Kat xo