Our Visit to the Yuma Territorial Prison and Ocean to Ocean Bridge

Our time in the southwest took us to Yuma and Tucson, Arizona. We spent December in Yuma, and had a great time exploring the area. Mike’s parents took us out with their friends jeeping in the desert (which I’ll tell you all about next week), and we also took the opportunity to visit the Yuma Territorial Prison and Ocean to Ocean Bridge.

Yuma Territorial Prison

Yuma Territorial Prison is now part of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area, but 1876 it was home to some of the most unscrupulous criminals in the desert southwest. While not very large by today’s standards, the prison was definitely not a place you’d want to spend much time, let alone twenty years to life for committing murder! The adobe structure had few windows, no running water in the cells, and of course, no air conditioning!

However, it was actually better than many of the homes in the Yuma area at the time! Dubbed the Country Club on the Colorado, the prison had electricity, forced ventilation (not cold, but at least moving air), and an area with two bathtubs and three showers. The administration of the prison was really trying to rehabilitate the prisoners, so they also included a library with over 2,000 books. Needless to say, the residents of Yuma weren’t pleased that the prisoners were living in better conditions than they were. Honestly, though, when you look at the cells, it didn’t look too great to me!

Ocean to Ocean Bridge

The Ocean to Ocean Bridge was the first vehicle bridge built to cross the Colorado River. There had been a railroad bridge, but until 1915 there was no way for traffic to cross the river from Arizona to California. To this day, it is still a one-lane crossing, with traffic lights at both ends directing traffic. Pedestrian walkways on both sides allow for foot and bicycle traffic to cross the bridge safely.

Downtown Yuma – The Gateway to the Southwest

After walking around the prison and the bridge, it was time to find some lunch! We drove over (but you could easily walk) to Downtown Yuma, known as the Gateway to the Southwest. We’d heard a lot about Lute’s Casino and knew they had outdoor seating (COVID is still dictating our activity), so we took a seat at a table overlooking the downtown area, ordered milkshakes and more food than we could handle, and enjoyed our lunch. Oh, and apparently the place is haunted, so beware!

If you’re ever in Yuma, Arizona, we highly recommend Yuma Territorial Prison, the Ocean to Ocean Bridge and Lute’s Casino!

Jennifer Skinnell is the author of the Hope Springs Romance Series available on amazon. Click here for all the details.

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