Clio Logo

Built between 1917 and 1925, the drunk tank in Old Firehouse Alley was used initially as an overflow cell for the city jail of Fort Collins, Colorado. However, its original purpose remains unknown. Yet, the tank proved to be valuable to the city, as the city jail became over-populated. During Prohibition, which lasted between 1896 and 1969 in Fort Collins, it was used to detain drunks and non-violent offenders. By the mid-twentieth century, the tank became a perfect solution to the filling city jail, as it separated mild offenders from hardened criminals. Though its history after Prohibition is vague, it continues to stand this day as a monument to Fort Collins' dry years.


  • The drunk tank in present-day, after being painted over.
  • The drunk tank before being painted over in the late 2000s.

During the late 1890s, temperance movements in Fort Collins took shape to make the sale and purchase of alcohol illegal in the city. By 1896, the movements got their wish when Prohibition came into effect. However, not everyone was supportive of the action. To continue the sale and purchase of alcohol, many individuals found a way around the new laws.

While some successfully bootlegged throughout the city, others were not as lucky. Offenders who were found bootlegging or being publicly intoxicated were arrested and taken into custody. Those who were arrested were detained in the Fort Collins city jail, but by the turn of the twentieth century, the jail became over-populated. 

The drunk tank itself was constructed sometime between 1917 and 1925. Its original purpose is unknown, but it proved to be valuable to the city of Fort Collins. It served as an outflow cell for non-violent offenders. This structure offered a solution to the over-crowding in the city jail, and also provided separation between mild offenders and hardened criminals. It served its purpose until the end of the city's Prohibition in 1969.

Located at 244 Old Firehouse Alley in Old Town, Fort Collins, the drunk tank still stands as a memorial to the dry years of the city. Today, it looks a little different, as it was painted over and slightly renovated during the late 2000s. Visitors are free to look around. It is also a stop on numerous tours.

Udell, Erin. The dodgy history of Old Town's drunk tank. Coloradoan. September 11, 2017. Accessed October 23, 2018. https://www.coloradoan.com/story/entertainment/2017/09/12/history-old-town-fort-collins-drunk-tank-firehouse-alley/654041001/.

Fleming, Barbara. Fleming: When Fort Collins was dry. Coloradoan. January 16, 2017. Accessed October 23, 2018. https://www.coloradoan.com/story/life/2017/01/16/fleming-fort-collins-dry/96624604/.

Image Credits:
Humphreys, Austin. Coloradoan. . Accessed October 24, 2018. https://www.coloradoan.com/story/entertainment/2017/09/12/history-old-town-fort-collins-drunk-tank-firehouse-alley/654041001/.

Lost Fort Collins. May 22, 2009. Accessed October 24, 2018. http://www.lostfortcollins.net/2009/05/22/the-blue-jailhouse/.