Get outta town: A look at crime in the Wild West at the Outlaws & Jailmen Museum

by Amanda Push

Stick em’ up, ladies and gents. The Outlaws & Jailmen Museum in Cripple Creek, Colo., is no joke.

Once the Teller County Jail – active from 1901 until 1992 – this Outlaws & Jailmen Museum gives you an inside look at what it was like to serve time back in the Wild West days. While you’re there, you can choose to have a tour guide or stroll at your own pace.

Way back in the 1800s, Cripple Creek was just a town of a whopping 15 people. The gold mines began attracting people to Colorado, and the town’s population went from 15 to more than 50,000 residents in just a decade.

While the boom helped the town out, with the population growth came a rise in crime. To counter that, Cripple Creek had to beef up their law enforcement and throw a few rotten apples in the county jail.

It was not fun times at the Teller County Jail. At full capacity, the 9,500-square-foot building could hold 100 people. That meant six guys per jail cell. The men slept in hammocks and had no running water or toilets. Women and juveniles had it slightly better, as they were housed upstairs.

The red brick building held everyone from local burglars, ladies of the night, robbers, con men, and highwaymen to infamous criminals like Jack Dempsey and Robert Curry (aka Bob Lee), a member of the Wild Bunch gang who was captured by authorities after he was found hiding in town. Even Butch and the Sundance Kid were in the area at one point.

The original jail cells were kept intact so you can fully immerse yourself in the atmosphere while checking out displays that highlight samples of police logs from the 1890s, copies of early city ordinances, and newspaper articles of crimes committed in the area.

And, if you’re into the paranormal, there are plenty of ghostly tales and hot spots that the tour guides can show you. There’s even a log book full of guests’ creepy encounters.

If you’re interested, you can also get your very own mugshot at the museum to get a small taste of that criminal infamy. Just make sure it’s not anything more than a goofy mugshot.

And, of course, it’s cheap to have fun at the museum. General admission is $3 for those 11 years old and older, and children aged 10 and younger are free.

Amanda Push


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