The Rotary Jail

Escape-Proof Cells on a Carousel, 1882–1966


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About the Book

 The rotary jail was a very unusual architectural design. In response to a need for better control over prisoners, 18 of the revolving, escape-proof structures were erected in the United States from 1882 through 1889.
There were problems. There were mechanical difficulties due to the extreme weight of the components. Unwary prisoners lost digits or limbs when carousels were rotated without warning—one lost his life. Because inmates could only be let out of their cells one at a time, some rotary jails were closed as fire hazards. This book describes in detail their construction, operation and eventual demise, as well as some of the colorful inmates that were held in them.

About the Author(s)

W.C. Madden, former editor and journalism instructor, is a member of the White County Historical Society and Tippecanoe Historical Association, and the author of 44 books. He lives in Monticello, Indiana.

Bibliographic Details

W.C. Madden
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 228
Bibliographic Info: 29 photos & illustrations, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6615-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2913-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Table of Rotary Jails x

Preface xi

Introduction 1

 1. The Invention 7

 2. First Rotary Jail opens in Paducah, Kentucky 17

 3. Second Rotary Jail opens in Crawfordsville, Indiana 27

 4. Nodaway County Jail—Maryville, Missouri 41

 5. DeKalb County Jail—Maysville, Missouri 50

 6. Pottawattami County Jail—Council Bluffs, Iowa 57

 7. Douglas County Jail—Omaha, Nebraska 72

 8. Warren County Jail—Williamsport, Indiana 80

 9. Outagamie County Jail—Appleton, Wisconsin 87

10. Oswego County Jail—Oswego, New York 95

11. Grayson County Jail—Sherman, Texas 101

12. Chittenden County Jail—Burlington, Vermont 108

13. Salt Lake County Jail—Salt Lake City, Utah 115

14. Sedgwick County Jail—Wichita, Kansas 123

15. Ellis County Jail—Waxahachie, Texas 133

16. Kanawha County Jail—Charleston, West Virginia 139

17. Strafford County Jail—Dover, New Hampshire 149

18. Daviess County Jail—Gallatin, Missouri 156

19. Pueblo County Jail—Pueblo, Colorado 167

Chapter Notes 177

Bibliography 197

Index 201