Nevada State Prison Museum nearing opening |

Nevada State Prison Museum nearing opening

Ronni Hannaman
Nevada State Prison Preservation Society President Glen Whorton looks over the inner yard at the shuttered Nevada State Prison.
Photo by Ronni Hannaman |

It’s taken a lot of work over these past few years to meet all the requirements needed to be able to convert the historic Nevada State Prison into Carson City’s third history museum.

According to Nevada State Prison Preservation Society (NSPPS) Chairman Glen Whorton, “There’s still a lot of work to be done to meet the ADA standards mandated by the State’s Public Works Board before we can open the prison gates to public tours.”

And, it’s taken a lot of cash to get to this point and will take a lot more before the first paid visitor is handed a ticket.

Thanks to the film that wrapped in November, the association was presented a generous donation for the more than 1,200 volunteer hours it took to assist the production staff, thus allowing them to go smoothly forward. According to Whorton, the filmmakers — Mustang Productions — were thrilled to be able to use the site for their Indie movie “Mustang,” a story of a violent convict given the chance to train wild mustangs. Actor Bruce Dern is a name you may recognize who stars in the film.

The Nevada Film Commission receives at least one inquiry monthly from filmmakers who wish to film in our historic Nevada State Prison, according to Whorton. This could be a source of revenue for ongoing improvements and operation.

In anticipation of opening soon, work is on-going to refurbish the two restrooms in the courthouse, rehab three of the solid steel doors used in the maximum-security area, and create informational displays giving visitors more insight into prison life. Whorton has found mobile aluminum handicap ramps that can be placed in areas not currently accessible that won’t impact the historic structure.

Whorton and his volunteer board are full of ideas on how the prison can enhance the community and tourism. They have been studying how other historic prisons, such as the Old Idaho Penitentiary in Boise built in 1870 and closed in 1973, function as a tourism attraction. Just imagine our prison as a concert venue, trick-or-treating site, and so much more. He even envisions those participating in Epic Rides cycling through the prison grounds. Stay tuned!