Two-celled Dayton, Nevada Jail A Testament To Survival

August 04, 2023  •  Leave a Comment
Dayton's Old Firehouse & Jail photographed by DVM Jimmy Emerson.Dayton's Old Firehouse & JailThe Dayton, Nev., Old Firehouse & Jail as photographed by DVM Jimmy Emerson (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0; photo has been cropped). Thank you, to Mr. Emerson for use of his photo. The two-celled jail in the Dayton Firehouse may not be the only such jail ordered by catalog and assembled locally in the American West, but it most likely is part of one of the few vintage prefabricated crossbar jails in existence.
 
The jail was purchased by a catalog order and used until 1966. Reportedly, there is one that looks like it in Coloma, Calif.
 
 
Photos of the Dayton Jail by Glenn Franco Simmons.Dayton JailTwo-celled jail in the Dayton Firehouse. Unfortunately, fire consumed the large courthouse in 1908, which prompted moving the county seat to Yerington and the jail to the Dayton Firehouse, which was built in 1875. The firehouse also doubled as a stage stop for the Overland Stage Route and served as a Wells Fargo Stage stop at one time! A gentleman at the firehouse, during 2022’s Dayton Valley Days, told me a car hit the fire hall a few years ago, almost knocking it off its foundation. Thank goodness it did not succeed, as the station houses a historical fire engine and is itself historical, with a jail in its back room.
 
If anything, this fire station is a survivor.
 
“Built of wood, circa 1861, this building housed the Wells Fargo Overland Stage Station, and the Dayton Firehouse, manned by volunteers using the ‘bucket-brigade’ method to fight fires,” states a plaque near the fire house that houses the jail. “After the disastrous fire of 1867, a small hand-pumper was purchased and water storage cisterns were installed under Main, Pike and Gates streets.”
 
The plaque notes that the hand-pumper was replaced in 1894 with a larger hand-pumper commonly referred to as a “Knickerbocker” hand-pumper, now restored and on display in Virginia City’s “Comstock Firemen’s Museum.”
 
“In the late 1860s, {this} building burned to the basement level,” according to the plaque. “In 1875 it was rebuilt of local rubble rock and brick on the basement’s original stone walls. When the Lyon County Courthouse in Dayton burned in 1909, the jail cells were moved here.
 
“Over time, floods from Gold Creek between 1861 and 1955 deposited sediments in the basement, weakening the wooden piers supporting the upper floor.”
 
There is one thing you can count on in rural Nevada and that is community support for worthwhile projects.
 
Dayton fire engine photographed by Glenn Franco Simmons.Dayton Fire EngineA vintage fire truck in the Dayton Firehouse, which also served, in back, as the Dayton Jailhouse. I'm not sure what type of fire engine this is, but if you know, please leave a comment. Thank you. “In 2008, the Historical Society of Dayton Valley stabilized the building’s foundation, replaced floor supports, rehabilitated the building’s doors and window frames, installed a retaining wall and erosion protection along the creekbed,” according to the plaque.”
 
Many people, companies and organizations kicked in to help restore this gem of Dayton, as the plaque notes:
 
“The HSDV acknowledges the following contributors: Keystone Masonry, Crom-Stanley Engineering, R.P. Surveying & Engineering, Paramount Iron & Handrail, Banta Construction, geologist Doug Parcells, Burrow’s Brothers Concrete, Cal-Vada Construction, and HSDV members, Gary McElroy, project manager, and Stony Tennant, Tennant Construction Co., construction manager, for donating countless hours to this project.
 
“This project was funded with the assistance of the state of Nevada Commission for Cultural Affairs.”
 
The plaque was re-dedicated in May 2010.
Photos of the Dayton Jail by Glenn Franco Simmons.Dayton JailThe two-celled jail in the Dayton Firehouse may not be the only such jail ordered by catalog and assembled locally in the American West, but it most likely is part of one of the few vintage prefabricated crossbar jails in existence.

The jail was purchased by a catalog order and used until 1966.
Dayton fire engine photographed by Glenn Franco Simmons.Dayton Fire EngineA vintage fire truck in the Dayton Firehouse, which also served, in back, as the Dayton Jailhouse. I'm not sure what type of fire engine this is, but if you know, please leave a comment. Thank you. Dayton fire engine photographed by Glenn Franco Simmons.Dayton Fire EngineA vintage fire truck in the Dayton Firehouse, which also served, in back, as the Dayton Jailhouse. I'm not sure what type of fire engine this is, but if you know, please leave a comment. Thank you. Dayton fire engine photographed by Glenn Franco Simmons.Dayton Fire EngineA vintage fire truck in the Dayton Firehouse, which also served, in back, as the Dayton Jailhouse. I'm not sure what type of fire engine this is, but if you know, please leave a comment. Thank you. Dayton fire engine photographed by Glenn Franco Simmons.Dayton Fire EngineA vintage fire truck in the Dayton Firehouse, which also served, in back, as the Dayton Jailhouse. I'm not sure what type of fire engine this is, but if you know, please leave a comment. Thank you.

 


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