Littlest Jailbreaks- Castle Rock Washington and Port Orford Oregon

(Above: Port Orford Jail, Oregon)

Castle Rock Jail, Washington

In 1890, Castle Rock made a decision, passing an ordinance to tax, license, regulate and restrain drinking saloons, of which there were said to have been a considerable number in the small town. Supposedly 13.

To probably house subsequent offenders, or perhaps having a jail was just overdue, they budgeted $100 for the building of a jail. Hanna Hayward came in under budget at $99 with a wooden, two-cell structure. His celebration of the finished project became so loud that he landed himself in said jail as its first occupant.

CastleRock Washington Jail boiler plate door

Hayward certainly wasn’t the last. A group of kids were locked up after being pursued for hanging out on a rail car, and they ended up setting fire to their cell’s contents to gain attention for release. When the marshal showed up and opened the door, they escaped.

Leaving the jail was allowed under certain circumstances. Back in 1903, a person serving a sentence could take the 40-pound ball and chain from the jail to work as assurance of return.

Castle Rock Washington Jail city park

The wood jail burned down, but Castle Rock amped up the budget, calling for a concrete, fireproof jail the next time around. Builder Albert Rosin took the $800 budget and made it work. Taking scrap metal from all over Castle Rock, horseshoes, cables, iron… he added it all to the concrete pour. Bits of scrap metal can be seen in the jail wall if you look closely. Donned with a boiler plate steel door, the second town jail also came in under budget at $758.

The heavy boiler plate door and the entire concrete structure still stand today, surrounded by flora and fauna as a city park, a nice respite tucked away just off the main street.


Port Orford Jail Oregon

Port Orford Oregon jail front door

Port Orford jail is a simple white cube of a structure, built in 1936. Two rooms are visible through the heavy metal barred windows. Its significance is in a 1950s jailbreak story.

Plenty of escape stories circulate out there, but Port Orford has a unique one. The prisoner’s friends rigged chains from the jail window to a logging truck. They drove away, pulling the window off and freeing their friend.

These two are small, but they might not be the smallest jails.

Lower Lake Stone Jail in California was built 1876. One of the first masons on town built it from local materials. It’s sign claims, “one of the smallest in the U.S.” and is on the California Register of Historic Places.

Nation’s smallest?

Haswell jail in Colorado claims to be the nation’s smallest.

Built in 1921, it measures 14×16 feet according to one source and 10×10 feet by another.

To top that, North America’s smallest jail, in Ontario Canada was built 1892, measuring 15×19 feet or 4.5×6 meters.

World’s smallest?

Sark Prison with two cells. It’s on the Normandy coast of France and is actually older than when its existence first appeared on the written record. A gift from William of Normandy to an abbey, its first documentation is from the year 1040.

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