Sunday, July 5, 2015

James Earl Ray and Sonny Liston--What they had in Common.

Binder Park
Jefferson City, Missouri
Site 1

Last night we had quite a surprise.  We were backed into a line of trees and you couldn't see much through the heavy brush.  All of a sudden we heard some loud booms and looked out our rear living room window.  Two sites up from the rear of that fifth wheel is where they were setting off the fireworks display.  We could feel the ground shake.  It was a nice show from the comfort of the recliner.  

We left Independence around 8:30 which is earlier than normal for us but we felt there would be a lot of people on the road returning from the holiday weekend.  We stopped at a roadside rest on US 50 and as we were pulling out, the road was covered in fireworks trash.  All of a sudden we heard a boom and smoke blew out from the bottom of the coach.  It didn't last and I guess we ran over a live firework.

We arrived before noon at Binder Park in Jefferson City only to find a sign that read no vacancies.  I jumped out and went to talk with the RV host to see if he knew of anywhere else in town.  He said there was some empty sites just go around the loop and park in one.  There are only 18 sites and I picked the only blind side back in.  
  The sites are concrete with 50 amp full hook ups, covered picnic table, grill and fire pit.  Not bad for $18 per night.  

We drove into town to see if Jefferson Landing was open.  As it turns out, it's closed on Sunday's and Monday's.  It's right near the Capitol building which we plan to visit tomorrow.  Since there weren't many people, we stopped to walk around the monuments and fountains today.  

This is a monument with the Ten Commandments on it.  I'm surprised someone from the Federal Government hasn't  made  them remove it.

Of course, the Capitol overlooks the Missouri River where Lewis and Clark played an important role.

These were the Memorial Gardens for the five branches of the military.
Nice to see they recognize the importance of Lewis and Clark exposition.  

Jefferson City is a very beautiful town.  
As we drove by the Missouri State Penitentiary I noticed  a sign which read, you need advance reservations.  I jumped out of the truck to go make reservations for tomorrow.  The girl told me they had a tour leaving in 10 minutes for the last tour of the day, if we wanted to do that.  Bill was parked down a hill about a block away.  I went down to ask him if he wanted to do it now.  We raced back up the hill, I forgot to mention, it was 89 degrees sunny and humid. 
They handed out prison air conditioners for everyone.  It's amazing how much better it felt when you were fanning yourself.  

Once again we were blessed with a great docent.  He worked for the prison system for 30 years of which 18 years was spent in this prison.  The prison was built in 1836, yes, even before the Civil War.  

He told interesting stories of the people who were inmates there.  

Do you who know this is?
This was Sonny Liston's, the heavyweight boxing champion's  cell.

There are 4 tiers in this building.  At one time there were 5,300 inmates, six to seven inmates per cell housed in this penitentiary. 

You were free to walk around everywhere, but warned numerous times, not to shut any doors.  

A combination toilet and sink--that's putting all the plumbing in one place.  Hope the RV manufacturers don't use this idea.

We were told that they had horse troughs that were filled with buckets of water from the Missouri river (summer and winter)to bath the inmates in.  Around 150 people bathed in one water trough.  The docent left us to our imagination about what they were bathing in near the end.

When the prison closed its doors in 2004, they had 1300 inmates to transfer which took 13 hours to relocate.

In the basement of this building was the dark room--dungeon cells.  We walked into a cell and they turned off the lights to show us what it was like to be in total darkness.  It wasn't just Bill and I asking for the lights to be turned back on.  
Our docent also told us how James Earl Ray escaped from this prison.  We all know what happened after that.  
Our next stop on this two hour tour was the gas chamber.

The gas chamber was made from a WWI submarine.

I didn't remind Bill that it used to be a submarine he was sitting in.
The windows are where the family and media would observe the execution.  

40 people were executed in that chamber.  Our docent mentioned one person who was found guilty of murder and executed 82 days later.  Talk about swift justice.

"In 1967, the Missouri State Penitentiary was called the "Bloodiest 47 Acres in America" by Time magazine due to 550 serious assaults inside the walls."

It was a very enlightening tour.  The docent told the stories about the people.  He had a wealth of knowledge and could answer any and all questions.  Those two hours flew by.  They also offer a three hour tour.  Misty, you'll be happy to know they have a ghost tour and a paranormal tour.  

It was a long day, but another fun day.  

Turtle Safely........

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