The Nevada State Prison

Visitors tour the historic Nevada State Prison in Carson City, Nev., on Tuesday, July 28, 2015. Photo by Cathleen Allison
Visitors tour the historic Nevada State Prison in Carson City, Nev., on Tuesday, July 28, 2015.
Photo by Cathleen Allison

About The Prison

Nevada State Prison (NSP) is located at the southeast corner of the intersection of Fifth Street and Interstate 580 (State Highway 395) in Carson City. It is approximately 2 miles from the state capital and visible from the interstate. It is currently closed and under lock and key.

Opened in 1862 as a prison, it is the third oldest prison in the country, west of the Mississippi, behind San Quentin (1852) and Alcatraz (late 1850s).

The Nevada State Prison was closed to inmates on January 4, 2012 and officially decommissioned on May 18, 2012.

It is the site of the first gas chamber in the world which was first used in 1924. In total, there have been three gas chambers of various construction within NSP. The last constructed gas chamber, #3, is still ‘active’ as an execution chamber using lethal injection. It was last used as a gas chamber in 1979. Thirty two inmates have experienced the wrath of the gas chamber and another eleven others have been executed in the chamber by lethal injection with the last execution in 2006.

The on site quarry provided sandstone for many of Carson City’s oldest buildings including public building of the State of Nevada.

Nevada’s automobile license plates will continue to be made at NSP through summer 2015 when manufacturing will be moved to Northern Nevada Correction Center also located in Carson City.

There’s a lot more history to be learned here. There are the fossilized footprints, the “Bull Pen” casino, the hot springs, the Warm Springs Hotel, the ‘cave’ and more.

History lives within NSP’s gates.

9 thoughts on “The Nevada State Prison”

  1. I was an officer at NSP in the late 70’s early 80’s. I just learned moments ago it has been closed! There is much history there and I’d really like to see it become a museum!
    It’s not unreasonable for me to consider volunteering as a tour guide. I’m long since retired but besides having something to combat boredom, it might be fun.

  2. This is a great idea! I’d most definitely visit this museum and take any out-of-town visitors to it, as well. It’s a sure bet that school-aged children would enjoy a field-trip here!
    Another idea would be to turn a portion of it into a functioning hotel. I stayed in a decomsissioned prison in New Zealand once and it made for a very memorable experience!

  3. I think this indeed should be a museum. Hopefully it won’t be horribly vandalizd, as was Alcatraz, and it will be taken care of while waiting it’s fate.

  4. I was Inmate #9432, 1966-1967! I was there when the Bull Pen closed. Hope to visit when they open it to the public.

    1. My Uncle began serving time there in 1954 at the age of 22.
      I believe it was for 5 years then parole.
      I think it was for robbery of a Western Union office ($225.00) and also a hotel ($40.00).
      High price to pay for $265.00.
      He’s gone now. Left us in 2010.

  5. I was an officer at NSP and then went to work in the inmate store 1990 thru 2006. Would also be willing to help when I can. so much history.

  6. I posted info on my facebook events page, if there are any events coming up I’d love to keep my members informed. It’s a free group to share events.

  7. I unfortunately had the privilege of walking that yard for some of my younger years inmate #64298 from 99-03 . I learned some tough lessons of life on those grounds , also learned alot from my “ol’timers” that made me see life for the beauty it truly is.. I look forward to seeing those doors crack , and walking through for the third time in my life.. if I can help in any way at all , that would be awesome.

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Carson City, Nevada