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Old Idaho Penitentiary, Boise

#1 of 27 in Historic Sites in Idaho
Must see · Historic Site · Tourist Spot
Experience what prison life was like for the most notorious criminals of Idaho's "Wild West" and the guards that worked there at Old Idaho Penitentiary. The prison first received inmates in 1872 and remained a functioning prison for 101 years, housing a total of 13,000 inmates. Walk through buildings like the dining hall, women's ward, and the maximum security area--Cell House 5--which served as Death Row. If you are feeling brave, lock yourself into one of the solitary confinement cells to better understand the harsh conditions of the prison's past. You can also take a guided tour. The facility is home to multiple exhibits, notably the J. Curtis Earl Memorial Exhibit of Arms and Armaments, which features one of the nation's largest collections of military history from Medieval times, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. Old Idaho Penitentiary is just one of the many highlights you can arrange to see using our , international travel planner Edition.
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Old Idaho Penitentiary reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
949 reviews
  • Chillingly sobering. Can imagine the anguish and suffering of those incarcerated there. The drop room was fascinating; why did we stop hanging people?  more »
  • I had recently visited the former penitentiary in Philadelphia, and I was pleasantly impressed that Boise’s penitentiary was not a carbon copy experience; they complemented each other. Standing in...  more »
  • Great tour! Such great and interesting stories and things to see here. Our tour guide Leslie was awesome!! Very informative and quick witted. Highly recommend! Just make sure if you small children (or if you’re sensitive) make sure you don’t mind them hearing about murders and executions.
  • Idaho's old Penn is a wonderful place for all those with a curious mind. It boggles the mind to think that it only closed in 1973 because when you step in you feel like you're stepping into something hundreds of years old. There's a lot of walking, and it can get pretty hot out there in the summertime. But those conditions also help you imagine what it was like for the inmates to live there. I highly recommend this for anybody who has an interest in our country's history, the beginnings of Boise, and maybe a little interest in the Paranormal.
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