The town of Truckee has many attractions throughout the city and numerous important places for hiking, swimming, skiing and various other outdoor activities. However, by far the most famous place you can visit in the city is the Old Truckee Jail Museum.
This building has been around since the mid-1800s, and is one of the last remaining jailhouses from the time of the Old West. The jail is now a museum that is open to the public, and it houses some exciting relics and pieces of an era long gone. It’s also the oldest building in Truckee and the only remaining original buildings in the entire city.
The History of the Jail
One of the main reasons why the jail has survived all these years is its remarkably sturdy construction. The walls are 32 inches thick, and there are no windows in the cells. The only openings are a few small vents allowing air to come through.
The Truckee jail was built in September 1873, and the first prisoner ever held there was William Hart, a local who was held for 6 days due to being involved in a brawl. The jail was repaired for the first time in 1901 and given a 2nd floor that same year. Later, in 1908, additional improvements were approved on account of a jailbreak that happened four years earlier.
Over the years, some of the most notorious criminals in the American West have found their way to the old Truckee Jail at one point or another. Famous names include “Ma” Spinelli, “Baby Face” Nelson and “Machine Gun” Kelly.
The jail survived until the 1970s, when a plan was proposed to turn it into a museum on the eve of its 100th year standing. The long awaited restoration process was began in 1974, and by 1976, the new museum was named an official Point of Historical Interest.
A Museum Worth Visiting
The museum is under the care of the Truckee Donner Historical Society. The organization offers a fascinating tour and a display of rare artifacts from the Old West. Some of the items you will see include relics from a number of industries from the area – such as lumbering, ice harvesting and manufacturing – and there are also exhibits that pay tribute to the film industry, which became quite impressive in Truckee during the 1920s.
Also, sporting and outdoor enthusiasts can see exhibits from the early winter sport era, including complete skiing equipment and several fascinating historical photos.
You can visit the Old Jail Museum every day between 11 AM and 4 PM, and you’ll find the museum is easy to find, being the most recognizable building in the Truckee historic district. The price required per visit is extremely accessible, or you can opt to submit a donation to the museum and avoid paying for a ticket.
While much of the area surrounding Truckee is ideal for sports and outdoor activities, you’ll find the Old Truckee Jail Museum to be an impressive and welcome alternative, that will surprise you with its many impressive relics.