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Deer Lodge in Powell County, Montana — The American West (Mountains)
 

1959 Riot

Old Montana Prison

 
 
1959 Riot Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, June 13, 1997
1. 1959 Riot Marker
Inscription.  On the afternoon of April 16, Jerry Myles and Lee Smart led a band of inmates in a violent riot against prison authorities. Seizing a rifle from the catwalk guard, they took control of the 1912 cell house.

Forcing their way into the administration building, the rioting inmates shot and killed Deputy Warren Ted Rothe and then took 19 prison employees and 5 inmates (stool pigeons) as hostages. The inmates threatened to burn the hostages alive if any attempt was made to rescue them.

In a daring rescue plan formed by Warden Floyd Powell, National Guardsmen fired a bazooka at the northwest tower of the cell house headquartered. The blast stunned the inmates long enough for a rescue team to free the hostages. Myles and Smart were found dead in the third floor of the tower, apparently a double suicide.

Although the riot drew attention to the numerous problems within the prison, it would be another twenty years before the old prison was closed down.

If you look at the cell house tower, you can still see the damage caused by the bazooka shell fired during the rescue attempt.
 
Erected by

Old Montana Prison Yard image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, June 13, 1997
2. Old Montana Prison Yard
Old Prison Museums.
 
Location. 46° 23.56′ N, 112° 44.158′ W. Marker is in Deer Lodge, Montana, in Powell County. Marker is on Main Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1106 Main Street, Deer Lodge MT 59722, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. 1931 Administration Building (here, next to this marker); 1870-1931 Federal Building (a few steps from this marker); 1896 Cell House (within shouting distance of this marker); Execution of George Rock (within shouting distance of this marker); 1912 Cell House (within shouting distance of this marker); Siberia East (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Old Montana Prison (about 300 feet away); 1909 Last Spike Monument (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Deer Lodge.
 
Categories. Notable Places
 
Montana Prison Cell Block Tower image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, June 13, 1997
3. Montana Prison Cell Block Tower
Montana Prison-look inside a cell image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, June 13, 1997
4. Montana Prison-look inside a cell
Montana Prison-inside the museum image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, June 13, 1997
5. Montana Prison-inside the museum
Sign in front of Old Montana Prison Musuem image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, June 13, 1997
6. Sign in front of Old Montana Prison Musuem
 

More. Search the internet for 1959 Riot.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 9, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 6, 2016, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 212 times since then and 22 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on August 6, 2016, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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