Clifton Cliff Jail

Cliffside Jail

Useful Information

Location: Chase Creek Street, Clifton, Greenlee County, Eastern Arizona. On US Hwy 191.
Open: no restrictions [2005]
Fee: free [2005]
Light: not necessary, bring torch anyway
Dimension: two cells
Guided tours:
Address: Clifton Cliff Jail, Chase Creek Street, Clifton, AZ 85533, Tel: +1-928-865-2072.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1881 jail built.
1906 jail closed.
1926 jail renovated.
1990 added to the National Historic Register with the Clifton Townsite Historic District.


The Clifton Cliff Jail in Clifton, Arizona, sometime between 1881, when it was built, and 1906, when it was closed.
Public Domain, from wikipedia

Clifton is a mining town, founded in 1865 by some Mexican placer miners, located in the canyon of the San Francisco River. In 1872 Jim and Bob Metcalf discovered copper deposits in this area. Now the city grew as mines like Longfellow and Metcalf, Montezuma, Copper Mountain, Yankie and the Arizona Central were founded. The mines were bought by the Lesinsky brothers who formed the Copper Mountain Mining District.

The Clifton Cliff Jail was built by the Lesinsky brothers, who assigned the miner Margartio Verala to build the underground tunnels for the jail. When Verala completed the jail, he went out to celebrate. He got drunk and finally blew up the dance hall, so he became the first prisoner in the jail he made.

Obviously underground jails have some disadvantages for the inmates, as they are cool and damp. But there are some advantages for the security, as it is rather difficult to escape from solid granite rock.