Paso Robles in San Luis Obispo County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
Paso Robles’ First Jail
Two years later another article was printed that basically stated the town constable would not arrest drunks because there was no place to put them; a jail was sorely needed. Criminals had to be taken to San Miguel or Templeton. Through various donations of material and labor, a 2-cell jail was built that faced east near 12th Street, just east of the railroad tracks. Each cell had a ball and chain. The doors were wooden with one-inch diameter ventilation holes and the hinges and clasps were forged by hand. No basic services of any kind seem to have been included. In June 1889, the jail was finished and remained in use until 1914.
Even though constructed “strong enough to hold an elephant, ” the roof eventually cracked, the building fell into disarray and was finally torn down in 1965. Somehow, the left door was saved and equally amazing, remained safe for all these years, as well as an original ball and chain.
The 2009 Museum Board of Directors
Ask a museum docent to show you the jail exhibit inside the building.
Erected by Paso Robles Pioneer Museum.
Location. Touch for map. The recreated jail is one of the outdoor displays at the Paso Robles Pioneer Museum. It is next to the parking lot and just inside the gate. The marker is on a post in front of the jail. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2010 Riverside Avenue, Paso Robles CA 93446, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. In Memory Of (within shouting distance of this marker); Geneseo School (within shouting distance of this marker); The Jeanesville Pump (within shouting distance of this marker); First Mennonite Church (approx. 0.3 miles away); Brewster – Dutra House (approx. 0.4 miles away); Paso Robles Veterans Memorial (approx. 0.6 miles away); Carnegie Library (approx. 0.7 miles away); Ignacy Jan Paderewski (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Paso Robles.
1. The Ball and Chain Marker - See Photo #4
Try to imagine, if you can, being locked up in one of these cells. No water, no toilet, no sink, no electricity, no heat in winter, no air conditioner in summer. The usual reason most were
No one was nearby to talk to and when food was delivered, it was cold and probably in a tin can. Just to make things worse, if the stay was more than one night, there sat a ball and chain that you knew was going to be strapped to your ankle in the morning! Such is the way it was when this jail was used.
The 18-pound “ankle brace” was used on prisoners when the judge assigned them to work for the city in the park during the day. The chain locked to the ankle, was long enough to allow the prisoner to rake leaves, pick up trash or prune bushes. He was able to pick up the ball and carry it to a new spot to continue work, but it was far too cumbersome to even think of picking it up or trying to run away and escape.
This ball and chain is an original from that first jail. When the jail was decommissioned, the ball and chain eventually went on display
The ball and chain were donated to the Pioneer Museum by Vernon Mathison in 2003 in memory of Eric Lundgren.
— Submitted April 8, 2014.
Categories. • Notable Buildings •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 27, 2014, by James King of San Miguel, California. This page has been viewed 342 times since then and 25 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on March 27, 2014, by James King of San Miguel, California. 5. submitted on March 30, 2014, by James King of San Miguel, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.