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We Are Going To The Slammer

Three hots & a cot…I’m not blogging about the Marias Heritage Center here in Shelby, but rather the book we’ll begin reading tonight (Tuesday) during Montana History at the Heritage. The book is Ellen Baumler’s “Dark Spaces: Montana’s Historic Penitentiary at Deer Lodge” from the University of New Mexico Press. Some walked out, & some died within the brick & stone walls; “Dark Spaces” tells the story of the prisoners who did time at the foreboding Deer Lodge prison. Montana Magazine marvels, “This is a beautiful book about one of Montana’s most hideous secrets. It makes intriguing, sad, poignant reading.” Ellen Baumler, an interpretive historian at the Montana Historical Society down in Helena, incorporates correspondence, prisoner intake records, parole & discharge information, structure reports, & newspaper articles to tell the story of Deer Lodge. It’s a neat read & J.M. Cooper’s stark documentary photographs capture the architecture & landscapes of the legendary prison, which closed in 1979 & is now the Old Prison Museum & a landmark on the National Register of Historic Places. I think that Baumler is a cool author & we all enjoyed reading her story on Mary Ronan, “Girl From The Gulches” earlier on at the Heritage. Looking forward to seeing you tonight at 6 o’clock SHARP for Montana History up at the Heritage. Check out Ellen’s “Dark Spaces; Montana’s Historic Penitentiary at Deer Lodge” from the University of New Mexico Press at: www.umpress.com (505 277 2346). Hopefully reading this book to the Heritage Center residents will serve to keep them on the straight & narrow & circumvent a life of crime!

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