Jerome's Sliding Jail – Jerome, Arizona - Atlas Obscura

In an implausible turn of events, this jailhouse went on the run. The old jail building in Jerome, Arizona can be found more than 200 feet from where it started, following a slow slide down the mountain.

Although its been many years since the facility was in use, it certainly spent some time in high demand. An old copper mining camp, Jerome was incorporated in 1898 and like many Wild West towns, soon garnered a reputation for boozing, brawling, and brotheling. Its bad reputation was enough to briefly garner it the title of “Wickedest Town in America.” The gambling and gun fights continued through Jerome’s World War I boom, when there were as many as 15,000 people living and working there. Today, it has only about 400 inhabitants and quite a different temperament.  

Jerome is located on a steep hill between Prescott and Flagstaff—perhaps a little too steep. The jail is not the only building in town that isn’t quite where its builder left it. The concrete cell block was once part of a wood and tin building, but pulled away from the rest of the structure after some underground blasting in 1938 shifted the ground beneath a substantial portion of the town Although the jail was deemed unsafe for prisoners and evacuated, its gradual slide down the hill continued unchecked until other buildings had been secured.

A little lawless itself, the jail is now stabilized with retaining walls and surrounded by an iron fence, just in case it decides to make another break for it.

Know Before You Go

Sits right off of a parking lot along the main street of Jerome.

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