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nelagoney jail

Nelagoney Jail

Location Class:
Built: ~1909 | Abandoned: N/A
Status: AbandonedPrivate Property
Photojournalist: Emily CowanAndie Sweeden

As many of you may know by now, I have been on a mission for the last year and a half to document as many tiny jails across the Midwest as possible. So far, I have documented over 150, with even more coming to our sites. Therefore, it was a shock to me when, on a Saturday in April, I went on a road trip through the small town of Nelagoney, and as I looked to my left in an empty field, I saw what looked to be a tiny jail. I had not previously known about this jail, so my excitement was through the roof when I realized I had just happened upon it.

As is usually the case with these jails, documented history is slim to none. The only thing readily available online was the following excerpt from town Ordinance No. 34, outlawing the owning of swine, pigs, and hogs within city limits:

Section 3. – Any Person, Persons, Firm, Firms, Corporation, Individual, Agent or Controller of any Hogs, Pigs or Swine who shall violate any of the provisions of this Ordinance, shall upon conviction be fined in any sum not to exceed twenty-five dollars or imprisoned in the town jail of Nelagoney for a period not to exceed 30 days or both and costs of action and shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

The jail was constructed using concrete and metal support that can be seen peeking throughout the crumbling structure. Each cell has one window fitted with steel bars, one of which has had half of the bars cut out. With two cells, this tiny jail is bigger than a typical one seen across the state, which is unusual for a town that has had a population hovering around 100 since at least the 1930s. The Nelagoney Jail probably did not see much use past petty crimes and use as a drunk tank.



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Emily Cowan

Emily is a two-time published author of "Abandoned Oklahoma: Vanishing History of the Sooner State" and "Abandoned Topeka: Psychiatric Capital of the World". With over two hundred published articles on our websites. Exploring since 2018 every aspect of this has become a passion for her. From educating, fighting to preserve, writing, and learning about history there is nothing she would rather do.

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Hunter Sutherland
Hunter Sutherland
30 days ago

What was once “abandoned” is no more. The Nelagoney jail currently stands on private property where children now use it as their “fort” or “hideout” or “deer stand” where they play house, climb on the roof, and make a lot of fun memories. These pictures, although beautiful, would have captured the essence of the old jail much better without all of their things in them.

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