Old Truckee Jail Museum

Looking for interesting things to do in Truckee CA? Are you obsessed with the Old West? Do you wonder what it was like to be a prisoner in late 1800s California? If you answered yes, then you must visit the Old Truckee Jail Museum. Tours are available every weekend during the summer months. Private tours can also be arranged. A visit to the museum will teach you the history of the jail, introduce you to its famous guests, and tell you a little bit about life in the early days of California.

History of Truckee’s Old Jail Museum

Built in 1875, the jail was made possible by nineteen citizens who contributed $25.00 apiece. Until then, Truckee only had a Calaboose, which is a dungeon in which to house outlaws. Construction on the building began in August of 1975 and was finished a month later. They did a very good job of making the building impenetrable. The sturdy jail was made of native stone. Truckee has always been a railroad town, and the architect of the Old Truckee Jail Museum used the materials that were available to him. Hence, the ceilings of the prison were comprised of dirt and railroad tracks.

The Inmates

Some of America’s most famous outlaws were incarcerated at this jail. Before she was executed at San Quentin, gang leader and wrestling champion Ma Spinelli was incarcerated here along with her boys. Famous kidnaper Machine Gun Kelly must have been running low on bullets and blindfolds when he was caught shoplifting in Truckee, because he and his gang did some time at the jail. The Chicago gangster and famous bank robber Baby Face Nelson was also an occupant.


The jail is registered as an official Point of Historical Interest by the State of California. The town was a center for bootlegging and gambling, and you may see some of the barrels in which they stored the liquor.
In addition to prison memorabilia, you will see a handsaw or two from the ice harvesting industry. Truckee was a popular spot for filming movies in the old days, and you may see a few photos of glamorous old film stars working their magic on location.


After a day at the Old Truckee Jail Museum, you will want a luxurious place to relax and unwind. Tahoe Signature Properties can provide the perfect home for your trip, whether it is a family vacation, a corporate retreat, or a romantic getaway. Reach out to our team of specialists for more information.

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