The oldest prison west of the Mississippi River may use its grim history to lure visitors

  • by: RYAN J. FOLEY , Associated Press
  • Updated: December 20, 2013 - 1:10 AM

FORT MADISON, Iowa — The Iowa State Penitentiary stands like an ancient stone fortress on a bluff over the Mississippi River, ringed by castle-like guard towers and sheathed in chain link and razor wire. Built in 1839, seven years before Iowa became a state, the buff-colored compound is the oldest operating prison west of the Mississippi, and as unwelcoming a place as you can imagine.

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