This is part 2 of our museum visits. The "Cons" part of Cowboys, Cars and Cons. Deer Lodge, Montana is home to a collection of museums which includes the Old Montana Prison, Montana Auto Museum, Yesterdays Playthings, Frontier Montana and Powell County Museum. Today we toured the Old Montana Prison.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Old Montana Prison was built by inmate labor, this turn-of-the-century fortress was home to at least one member of Butch Cassidy's "Wild Bunch". We walked on our own self-guided tour. One of the unusual cells housed a character named Turkey Pete. He was sentenced to life in 1918, Turkey Pete became a model prisoner and was placed in charge of the prison turkey flock. Losing touch with reality, at one point he "Sold" the entire flock for the sum of 25 cents per bird, beginning a new career as the prison entrepreneur.
Humoring his mental condition, inmates were allowed to print Eitner checks in the prison print shop and he was permitted to "purchase" the prison and run it from his cell. He "paid" all prison expenses and "paid" the guards salaries.
At age 89, Turkey Pete died in 1967 after 49 years behind bars. At his death, Cell No 1 was retired from use. His was the only funeral ever held within the walls of the prison. See photos of his cell. We enjoyed our visit and hope you enjoy taking the tour with us.