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Old Missouri State Pennetentiary and Gas Chamber 

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  #11  
Old 08-11-2013, 12:41 PM
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Re: Old Missouri State Pennetentiary and Gas Chamber

great pics.

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  #12  
Old 08-12-2013, 02:44 PM
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Re: Old Missouri State Pennetentiary and Gas Chamber

Great pics, I actually know some people that were locked up there. My girl friend was a nurse there too.

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Old 08-13-2013, 11:59 PM
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Re: Old Missouri State Pennetentiary and Gas Chamber

I'll see if I can pull out some more keepers to post out of my collection, but a bit more information on the above photos:
1,3,4,5 are Housing Unit 4, the one that is shown on the standard tour (they also have an extended tour that shows Housing Unit 3, and an abbreviated tour that omits the gas chamber, and a night ghost hunting tour). It's the oldest surviving building, built in the 1860s. For part of 20th century when the prison was segregated it housed blacks, then it was an honor dorm for inmates who wanted to "do their bit" quietly and then move on with their lives instead of causing a ruckus in prison. Too easy for a more violent kind of inmates to make shanks with the wiring, plumbing, and bedframes in the cells, or throw someone off the top of the tier. Voilent inmates were kept in the newer WPA era housing units 2 and 5, then later the 1980s maximum security unit. In 1989 the new supermax prison in Potosi opened taking some pressure and crowing off the penitentiary.

2 and 6 are just inside the the current front , 7 is outside what it now the main gate. During the WPA a hospital and admin building was built out front, and much later a maximum security unit, these have been pulled down leaving the damage on the front.

8 was taken from in front of the gas chamber building, showing housing units 2 (with the death row) and 3 (notable as a temporary residence of James Earl Ray). The parking lot is on top of the former prison cemetery.

The red lever dumps the cyanide into the acid releasing the gas, the grey lever turns on the vent when the execution is done. This was the only US gas chamber not built by Eaton metal products, and was somewhat antiquated and improvised- the door is actually from a ship, and was not negative pressure like other US chambers (a safety device so any leaks would be inward, not outward), and gas detectors were never installed outside.

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Old 08-14-2013, 05:19 PM
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Re: Old Missouri State Pennetentiary and Gas Chamber

Ace

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Old 09-07-2013, 04:14 PM
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Re: Old Missouri State Pennetentiary and Gas Chamber

Some more...

1) More view of the damage to the old stone front from when the administration building, hospital, and supermax unit were pulled down

2) Nice view of the front

3) Inside looking out the front. After you are in they close and lock the gate for security so you can't just walk out in the middle of the tour.

4.) Phone directory inside the main gate

5) The back of the front building. During the WPA an even older building behind it was pulled down and was repaired with the red brick of the other WPA construction

6) The 1970s chapel in the middle of the yard. This and a number of other nonhistoric buildings were pulled down last summer.

7) A WPA cellblock for those that couldn't be trusted in Unit 4 but didn't need to be in Supermax

8) Front of Unit 4

9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 Unit 4

15) "Dungeon" in Unit 4. Like Alcatraz in the old days they punished inmates by leaving them down here in the dark for days. The guides let people walk in the cells and then shut the lights off for a bit.

16) Back near the front entry?

17, 18, 19, 20 More of the gas chamber, I felt compelled to take a picture of my hand on the red lever. Door on the left is for witnesses, on the right for the staff and "clients". I didn't get a good view of the last cell, but their are two cells on the right. It may have been meant to have one cell for each person in a double execution, but one cell was the final holding cell and one was to mix chemicals. Eaton gas chambers had plumbing so you could pipe the acid in from the mixing room, but in Missouri's more primitive system you mixed the acid in the crock in the room, and then manually carried it in and set it underneath the chair. The headrest is obviously not original, maybe they added it after the Gray execution fiasco in Mississippi, Eaton chambers have a pipe behind the chair, and Gray died while smashing his head repeatedly into it.

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