Historic Sites and Points of Interest in Nevada County
A marker mounted on the front of the jail reads:
Old Truckee Jail
Built in September 1875 and in continuous use until 1964
Plaque No. 2 - E Clampus Vitus
Chief Truckee - No. 3691
Re-Dedicated July 4, 1978
One of the few remaining original buildings in Truckee, the old Bastille was used continuously from 1875 until May 1964 and survived the many fires that swept Truckee in its early days.
The original building consisted of just the lower level, built of native stone with walls that are thirty-two inches thick. This level has no windows, only small barred vents for each cell. The ceilings are plate steel, insulated with dirt, and lined with railroad tracks. Doors are riveted steel, weighing an estimated two hundred pounds each.
In 1901, a second floor was added to serve as both a hospital ward and a holding place for female prisoners.
In 1904, two desperados escaped by making a saw from a case knife and removing one of the bars which they used to pound a hole through the thirty-two inch wall of the larger room.
In 1908, an upper story made of brick was added.
The old Bastille held some of the Old West's most notorious characters, including Baby Face Nelson, Ma Spinelli and her gang. Old timers say that Machine Gun Kelly spent a night here after being caught shoplifting in the Truckee Variety Store.
The building was restored in 1974 and is now a museum operated by the Truckee-Donner Historical Society.