IN 1867 RAILROAD SURVEYORS for the first transcontinental route crossed desolate wilderness and found a cool water spring here, much to their delight. The commander of the troops accompanying the surveyors marveled that the spring was so refreshing, "If anything is ever named after me, I hope it will be a spring of water." Thus the settlement became known as Rawlins Springs -- later shortened to the town of Rawlins.
When Wyoming became a state in 1893 it distributed facilities so every city received something different: Cheyenne became the state capital, Laramie the university town, Evanston got the mental hospital, Douglas the state fairgrounds, and Rawlins received the state penitentary. The fortress prison was built in 1900 for incarceration and punishment -- rather than for rehabilitation and treatment like our modern facilities. That all changed in 1991, when a new prison facility was built. So now this one is history (much like San Francisco's Alcatraz prison), and they offer tours to see how unpleasant life was back then.
The architectural similarities between the prison and mansion -- both built in the early 1900s -- is uncanny. Compare the two photos above. Both feature corner turrets, conical towers, tall narrow windows, arched stone openings, and steps to their entrances. Of course, the interior design is another matter -- but they both offer bed and breakfast!
Week 14, Miles 1046