Yuma, A prison and A Pretty Girl

…so the other day I drove down to Yuma for a couple of days. An old friend, Tire Mike, moved there last year and invited me to come down so I decided to go. I had never been to Yuma so why not.

It’s an interesting town steeped in western folklore. Especially the “Yuma Territorial Prison” which has been used in many movies – remember the recent re-make of the classic western, “The 3:10 to Yuma” with Russell Crowe?

Tire Mike has built an impressive compound on about a quarter of an acre of land for him and his family and the prices are good, as soon as I crossed into Arizona I filled my gas tank up, $1.00 a gallon cheaper than here. But I wanted to see the prison.

Built in 1876, during the 33 years it was open, the Yuma Territorial Prison housed 3,069 inmates, 29 of which were females and one baby that was born there. The most famous of the “Bad Girls of the West” was the pretty Pearl Hart.

Pearl and her boyfriend robbed a stage coach for $400.00, while she was waiting trial she seduced the guard and escaped. She was caught and put on trial but she was so pretty and flirty that the jury found her not guilty which enraged the judge who had her retried for stealing the stage coach driver’s pistol.

She was given five years in prison for that but when she got to the Territorial Prison they didn’t have any cells for woman so she was given her own room. She was such a celebrity that newsmen from around the country came to interview her, there weren’t any uniforms for the woman prisoners so they wore their own clothes.

The sight of the pretty Pearl Hart in all of her finery caused quite a disturbance with the other inmates so when she announced that she was pregnant the warden had had enough. She was pardoned and told to get out of Arizona and never come back. She was last seen in Kansas City in a stage show about her life (it doesn’t seem like she was any better as an actress than she was a stage coach robber, but she was pretty).

So if you ever find yourself down south near the border where the Gila river crosses the Colorado, stop in and fill your tank in Yuma, Az.