Idaho's First Territorial Prison

This hand-hewn prison was originally erected above Elk Creek, north of Idaho City. It had fourteen cells and hand-wrought nails, chains, doors lifts, and window irons were used to discourage escape. This rough structure was used as a territorial prison until the 1870’s. The jail’s original building site was undermined by placer mines and the structure fell into Elk Creek. It has been moved at least four times before coming to rest in its present location. The last time it was moved it was by the Sons and Daughters of Idaho Pioneers, and a monument that stands in front honors them.

Most people from Idaho are familiar with Idaho’s Old Penitentiary located in Boise Idaho.  In 1862 Boise was a small trade and travel hub for the region, and Idaho City was booming. The prison was constructed over winter in 1863 into 1864.  The building was originally substantially larger, with reports of 12 to 14 cells. The prison served the region until the Boise Penitentiary was constructed in 1870 to 1872. Much of the building was damaged when miners under dug the building after it was decommissioned.  The prison was later relocated to its’ current location in Idaho City. 

For more information on Idaho’s First Territorial Prison please visit Idaho State Historical Society.

Sources & More Information