Timeline


oldprisonphoto

Sitting on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River, three miles west of the confluence of the Colorado and the historic Gila River, stand the ruins of Arizona's famous Territorial Prison, and a short distance west are the remaining buildings that served as a part of the Yuma Quartermaster's Depot. Fernando de Alarcon, who accompanied Coronado on his search for the Seven Cities of Cibola, passed this site in 1540. Padre Kino saw the present location of the Prison and the Quartermaster's Depot in 1683, and Padre Graces established a mission directly across the river and was later killed there by the Indians in 1781.

Yuma began to experience the American westward surge when countless immigrants crossed by ferry from Yuma on their way to the California gold fields in 1849. In 1850, a military post was established at Yuma, and when rich placer gold strikes on the Colorado River precipitated a gold rush in 1858, Yuma experienced a boom. In 1871 Yuma incorporated and became the county seat of Yuma County.

The Territorial Prison was authorized by the Legislature in 1875 and $25,000 was budgeted for the project. Ground was broken on April 28, 1876, and some of the prisoners were pressed into service to build their cells. The first seven inmates moved into the facility on July 1, 1876. The Prison held a variety of law violators, including the legendary stagecoach robber Pearl Hart. The Prison continued in operation for 33 years when, due to overcrowding, all inmates were moved to a new facility in Florence, Arizona.

1875

Prison authorized by Territorial Legislature

1876

Prison opens
First Convict: William Hall
prison-opens

1878

First Female Convict: Lizzie Gallagher
First escape by J. Lewis

Water Reservoir constructed

1881


1882

Guard Tower built

Electricity brought to the prison with Dynamo-Generator
Lowell Battery Gun purchased

1884


1885

Sally Port built
Hospital established

1887

Gates Riot: four convicts dead, one wounded

1889

Female Convict Manuela Fimbres gives birth to baby boy, Luis, in prison
machinegun

Women's cells built

1891


1893

Library dug out of south wall

Dark Cell dug out of south wall

1894


1899

Pearl Hart sentenced to 5 years for robbery

New Yard opens

1900


1902

Female Convicts Elena Estrada and Rosa Duran serve time in Dark Cell

Maximum Security cells built

1904


1905

Martin Ubillos hangs at County Courthouse

Prison Closes: Prisoners moved to Florence

1909


1910

Yuma High School at Prison until 1914

1914

County Hospital in Superintendent's house until 1925
highschool

1915

Ocean to Ocean Highway Bridge constructed

Prison buildings used to rebuild Yuma after flood

1916


1923

Southern Pacific Railroad demolishes West Walls and Women's
Cells to build new rail line and rail bridge.

Hospital and Mess Hall burn

1924


1931

VFW uses Guard House until 1959

Depression-Era victims use Prison for housing

1932


1939

Squatters evicted

Museum built on site of Mess Hall with New Deal funds.

1940


1941

City operates Prison as Museum until 1960

1942

Guard Tower used for WWII spotting
museum

1961

Yuma Territorial Prison becomes 3rd State Park

Budget crisis threatens closure of State Park
Yuma community's "Chain Gangs" raise funds to save park

2010