Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Colorado State Penitentiary Soap

I found an interesting and completely irrelevant website while perusing for wooden soap displays. I found it fascinating, though. I just love seeing and hearing about soap history. The stories...There is a man and his wife in their 80's who come into my shop about once a month. The man told us a story about his grandfather making lye soap with ashes and how that soap would take the hide off of a horse. He smiles and looks up at me and says, Oh, I like your soap much better. They purchase one bar of soap and one Creme Fresh and will be back next month.

Anyway, Roy Best was the warden of the Colorado State Prison from 1932 to 1954. On this website, I found a number of photos, but the two that I found that were relevant to soap were part of their Industry Row and showed the soap plant and the soap display at the Penitentiary.

Soap plant at the Colorado State Penitentiary in
Cañon City, Colorado

Black and white negative shows two levels of the soap plant; lower level has various machines, bins, metal barrels and wood flats; upper level has a row of metal barrels along railing with six men standing behind the barrels.

Man with soap products from soap plant

Black and white negative of a man standing next to a display of products made by the soap plant at the Colorado State Penitentiary in Cañon City, Colorado; sign on top of the display lists all of the products made at the soap plant.

Do you have family members that made soap from ashes??


Kim said...

I love reading about this stuff, too. Thanks for posting this article!

FuturePrimitive said...

that's so dope. soap dope. dope soap.
lovely lovely pics.

milk and cookeez said...

How neat-I only thought Prisons made license plates and railroads, oh and picked up garbage. You learn something new everyday, thank you for sharing.

kat said...

Wow, those pictures are fascinating!

Anonymous said...

Well, I have two things to say about this topic:

1) While I don't have any family who made soap with ashes, that is one of the things I discussed w/ dh about being self-sufficient (and that making soap is not just some frivolous hobby I picked up). Basically, we'd make our own lye with ashes (I think I saw a "recipe" in Backwoods Home one time), and use lard/tallow from our own pig or cow. Can even make our own distilled water! Anyway, that's the Plan, but a far off one.

2) Speaking of prisons and soaps, when I told a friend I wanted to make soap and bought soaps from my soaping buddies, she said the first thing she thought of was Nazis making soaps with human fat. Ewww. Guess this friend won't be jumping on the soap-making bandwagon.

Alana said...

great pictures. i love soap history too.

Burnt Mill Candles and Soap said...

great find
that is the town right next to mine in colorado and I didn't even know they made soap.

very interesting

Celeste Jean said...

I'm sure we all have family members who made soap from ashes. After all, when it came time for the animals to be slaughtered, the old saying "waste not, want not" ruled there too, and so the animal fat was combined with ashes to make soap for laundry. For some reason it was deemed necessary to have clean clothes but not so much a clean person.

sherrieg said...

I love this post - thanks for sharing! I know that my great-grandmother made lye from ashes, and I was speaking with an elderly woman a few weeks ago who used to make it with her mother.

MA Kettle said...

I've met people who tell me about boiling their hogs to get the skin off and then adding lye ashe to the kettle afterwards to make soap.