Prison Photo Essay

Today’s post is a photo essay on one of Jackson’s claims to fame . . . its prison. Specifically, the pictures are of the old prison; replaced in 1934 in a different location by the current prison.
Built in 1837, the old prison covers about 20 acres with stone and granite walls twenty-five feet high. The early cells were 7 feet long, 3½ feet wide and 6½ feet high. The later blocks were “expanded” to 9 feet long 5½ feet wide and 7 feet tall.

In the prison’s early days businessmen could pay the prison as little as 34 cents a day for cheap labor. The inmates did not get any of the money. If needed, the prison even provided space for the industry inside the prison walls. This continued up to the 20th century,

The need to move products to market helped make Jackson an early railroad center. By 1871, at least six railroads radiated from town. A spur directly linked the prison complex with the outside world. At its maximum capacity Michigan’s first state prison was big enough to hold one-third the early population of Jackson.

What was once the largest walled prison closed in 1934, although one expert in the paranormal says at least 50 distinct ghosts or other entities still roam the area. I wasn’t able to catch any of these in my pictures. Still there remains a stark eeriness, and occasional beauty, to the old prison.

Eastern Wall

Eastern Wall

Northwest Entrance

Northwest Entrance

The Big House

The Big House

Gate Door and Hinge

Gate Door and Hinge

Watchtower Window

Watchtower Window

Wall Detail

Wall Detail

Stool Pigeon

Stool Pigeon

Barbed Wire

Barbed Wire

Prison Pigeon, Caboose, Restaurant Wren, and Peaches

Sorry about the strange title, I couldn’t think of anything that covered the four pics I wanted to share. These images are all from yesterday’s photo safari with my friend Pat. We covered so much ground we had to fill-up twice (once for the mini-van and once for us) plus a brief oasis for coffee and a scone. The lighting was everything from great sun to dark and ominous clouds.

The prison pigeon was taken at Jackson’s old (1841) prison. The double-tagged flyer was not trapped, I used a 200 mm setting on my zoom lens. I liked the colors of the pigeon against the beautiful stone wall.
pigeon

The caboose was out in the woods off of a gravel road somewhere in the deepest, darkest, recesses of rural Michigan. I have no idea how it got there or what kind of love nest it is, but simply liked the strangeness of the moment.
caboose

The restaurant wren was looking for crumbs leftover from outside dining at one of Jackson’s newer restaurants. I loved the shadows from early morning light; especially of the wren.

wren

The peaches were at an outdoor farmers’ market. They looked good and tasted delicious!

peaches

As always I love to hear your thoughts, critiques, questions. Feel free to post or email me.

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