CENTRAL OREGON HISTORY

The jail was attached to the old Crook County Courthouse.

The old jail for Crook County was a brick structure attached to the first constructed wooden courthouse that had been built in 1885. It was not the first jail, but it was much more secure than the earlier wooden structures used as a detainment center. Even though somewhat secure, it still led to innovative escapes by determined prisoners. One of the early jail breaks occurred in June of 1905.

Charles Salvin had been arrested in May of 1905 and charged with stock rustling. He was waiting for the action of the grand jury, when he decided it was time to depart the hospitality of the county. Salvin had convinced a fellow prisoner, Tim Edmundson, who had special privileges of working outside the jail, to secure a saw and bring it back to the jail when he returned in the evening. It was a Friday night, and there were no guards on duty. Soon after dark, the pair cut the lock off the inner cell door and stepped into the corridor of the jail. Another prisoner, who was being held for the murder of the Warm Springs chief of police, refused to help. Salvin began the process of cutting a passageway through the brick wall of the building. The passage was just big enough for Salvin to squeeze through into the late evening air. He had made arrangements for an accomplice to be waiting for him outside the jail with a horse. Once through the hole, he rushed to his rescuer, and they dashed off into the darkness of the night.

Steve Lent is an historian with Crook County Historical Society. He can be reached at 541-447-3715.