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Crane Jail

Crane Jail

Location Class:
Built: N/A | Abandoned: ~1970s
Status: Abandoned
Photojournalist: Bill Metcalf

A few newspaper reports about the Crane Jail detail some of the harrowing things that this jail saw.

The Crane Chronicle January 10, 1935 – Leonard Short was named one of four bandits who obtained about $1,000 in money and merchandise in a raid on three Crane stores…… Floyd Henderson named as the soup man of the group which raided the Crane stores, was returned here Monday night by a group of highway patrolmen. After spending the night in the Crane jail he was removed to Galena for safekeeping pending a preliminary hearing.

The Kansas City Times April 3, 1935 – A robber broke into the Crane Jail and stole $17 from a prisoner. The prisoner ran down the street that same night, reeling and shouting: “A cop! A cop! Wheres a cop?” The prisoner had been forcibly put off a Missouri Pacific train. The conductor said he was undesirable, a bit too drunk and loud. A couple of Crane citizens decided likewise when the man went roaring up the street and locked him up in jail without formality-a custom herabouts. A versatile thief broke into the blacksmith shop across the street from the jail, stole a pair of metal cutters walked over to the jail door and snapped off the padlock. In stride he took the money from the one-time passengers pockets as he was in a deep sleep. The prisoner a little more sober soon awoke and burst through the jail door demanding a posse get his money back. He found Bill Rickman, Crane officer, who could do little but promise and investigation.

Stone County News-Oracle April 2, 1941 – Carl Morley, who gave his address as North Platte Nebr. was found on the bank of Crane Creek at Crane Saturday in a serious condition, suffering from hemorrhages. He was taken to the city jail where he died early Sunday morning. He said he had been drinking rubbing alcohol and an empty bottle was by his side. He said he had children in North Platte but the officers were unable to communicate with them. He was buried in the Potters’ field at the Masonic Cemetery in Crane.

Many calabooses were used just to hold the occasional drunk and disorderly, especially for these small towns where major crimes didn’t happen. One local, Steve Wilson, said his father used to bail a man out of the jail whenever he needed a farmhand in the ’70s. The man, named Loy DeWitt, was a pretty heavy drinker. His brother, JA DeWitt said that his drinking could be attributed to his time serving in the military as a Vietnam vet, “He had terrible thoughts and nightmares, drinking was his only way to cope. If we had seen and been through what he has seen, we would probably drink too! He was in some of the bloodiest battles in Vietnam.”

Some of the other Crane locals had some fun stories about this calaboose, one saying, “It was across the alley from my Dad’s liquor store. I used to visit the guys that were in there” and another with a not so fun memory, ” My dad locked me in there for 4 hours one day. Just to show me it wouldn’t be any fun to be locked up for real. He was the town marshall at that time.”

crane jail Crane Jail






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Emily Cowan

Emily is a two-time published author of "Abandoned Oklahoma: Vanishing History of the Sooner State" and "Abandoned Topeka: Psychiatric Capital of the World". With over two hundred published articles on our websites. Exploring since 2018 every aspect of this has become a passion for her. From educating, fighting to preserve, writing, and learning about history there is nothing she would rather do.

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