The Death Penalty in Colorado & The DIY Death Machine

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That's crazy!! I'm looking at the picture but don't see how it worked. But like the article says it has something to do with those weights that I see. 45 inmates executed like that! RIP all.

Hi JC - The whole contraption is a bit tough to visualize, but the key component that's visible in this picture, which was taken from the outside of the chamber is the jug of water that, when tipped, triggers the larger weight (not pictured) to fall and jerk the condemned vertically. On the other side of the door was a small platform where the inmate would stand. The whole device is a bit mind boggling. 


These devices were used elsewhere in the country.

The Wyoming state penitentiary in Rawlins had one, though It was replaced with a traditional drop gallows following the lengthy execution of Tom Horn in 1903. The old Connecticut state prison at Wethersfield had a similar device too until replacing it with the electric chair in the mid-1930s.

The jerk up gallows were known as Julian gallows, after their inventor, Cheyenne architect James Julian.

If you look on YouTube, you can see a demonstration of the device using a miniature model and doll at the Wyoming penitentiary museum.


YouTube video shows that the Julian Gallows at the Wyoming Penitentiary was indeed water-activated, but rather than jerking upward, it dropped the prisoner through a trap.

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