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The Calaboose

In 1886, Punta Gorda, or Trabue as it was known then, was a rough and lawless town.  Wild and raucous cowboys and fisherman boozed it up Saturday nights and the city fathers decided that something must be done.

To this end the town bought a portable cage with steel bars.  The calaboose was built by E. T. Barnum Wire and Iron Works in Detroit, Michigan.  The company's Number 7, steel lattice cage cost the city nearly $200 and served as the city jail from 1889 to 1928.  It was kept in a shed behind the city Marshal’s house on Taylor Street.    

The iron bands of the calaboose were once covered by an iron roof.  The cage once had two swing-down bunks, one at either end.  The swinging front doors were locked by a padlock.  

This primitive jail was used on Jim and Patsy Parker’s Washington Loop Ranch as a livestock pen.  The Parker’s donated the calaboose in January 2000 to the Punta Gorda Historical Society in honor of Jim’s father, Edwin M. Parker, who was Mayor of Punta Gorda in 1941.  

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