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May 6, 2011

OREGON BOOT Wyoming State Penitentiary 1900-20's

These do not come up for sale every day and I daresay the price for this one was near-affordable, provided that is was sold at the price indicated.

This listing is for a very scarce and unique prison & prisoner transport restraint THE OREGON BOOT. This particular boot has been in my collection since the 1970's. I obtained it from a prison employee and part-time collector in Rawlins Wyoming in the early 1970's who indicated that he "heard" that the boot was used up into the 1940's. The boot has been personalized for the Wyoming State Prison use and is Stamped on both sides WSP for Wyoming State Penitentiary. It also has the Leininger patent date stamped on both sides of May 16, '76. The prison manufactured the boot portion and is interesting to see the chain hole in the bottom of the platform evidently to chain one or more prisoners to the transport vehicle or cell. There is also two light chains around the top of the platform which I assume is to act as a keeper to the iron band which is loose on top of the platform? The boot top band weight does show some age wear and has a prison manufactured leather carry case. The wood handle "key" tool is original and it also has an additional all metal prison manufactured "key" that appears to work the best. Functional in all aspects and the original WSP stamping and prison customizing is very unique and definately adds to the boots history and interest. This boot is an example of the Leininger patent #177406 which was issued May 16, 1876 as an "improvement in shackles". One of a kind and very scarce.

The Oregon Boot, or Gardner Shackle as it was properly known, was patented July 3, 1866 by , then Oregon State Penitentiary Warden, J.C. Gardner. The shackles were manufactured at the Penitentiary by prisoners.

Each shackle consisted of a heavy iron band that locked around one ankle. This iron band was supported by another iron ring and braces which attached to the heel of a boot. These shackles weighed between 5 and 28 pounds apiece.

The Boot was placed on one leg only. This kept the inmate off balance and deprived him of agility.

At the time the Oregon Boot was invented, the territorial Prison and later the Penitentiary had an enormous escape problem. Mr. Gardner and subsequent wardens felt that the inmate population could not be adequately controlled without using the Gardner Shackle on each and every prisoner.

When Gardner was replaced as the warden, he obtained a court order preventing the use of the shackle without payment to him. The Oregon Legislature did authorize the payment of funds to Gardner that same year.

Wearing the shackle for extended periods of time caused extreme physical damage. Inmates would be bedridden for weeks at a time in extreme pain. The Gardner Shackle became known as a man-killer to the prisoners who wore them.

In 1878 Superintendent Chadwick discontinued the use of the shackle on a full time basis. Chadwick still used the shackle for disciplinary purposes. Virtually all counties and municipalities shackled their inmates when transporting them.

It isn´t known when the last time the Oregon Boot was used. As late as 1939 a prisoner was "ironed out" in Mill City, Oregon so that he could be transported to the Penitentiary.

Donations from the proceeds of this sale will be made to the Old Prison Museum and Rialto Theatre Restoration Project in Deer Lodge, Montana - eBay

This Oregon Boot had an ending bid of $1,850 (Plus $33.37 Shipping), provided that the set was actually sold at this price.


1 comment:

Canuck said...

The Oregon Boot is featured in an "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" Season Two episode entitled "The Manacled." The episode is on DVD and is posted on YouTube. There is a surprised ending to the episode, so I suggest just watching the episode without reading about the episode beforehand.