2 Celled Jail – Gardner, Illinois - Atlas Obscura

2 Celled Jail

Gardner, Illinois

This tiny historic jail along Route 66 is the perfect fit for exactly one criminal and their partner-in-crime. 


The police force of Gardner, Illinois had better hope that Ocean’s Eleven never pull a heist in their town or they might not even have the room to hold them, at least not in their historic 2 Celled Jail that has been a beloved town attraction for over a century.

While the village of Gardner, Illinois now has a regular-sized jail with all of the amenities required by modern law, this was not always the case. In the early 20th century, all that bumbling criminals had to look forward to in the tiny town was a stay in the infamously stark, two-cell jailhouse. The tiny lock-up was built in 1906 and has the barren lack of amenities to prove it. The jail is actually just one room cut in half by the bars of the cells which are only separated by a metal sheet themselves. The individual cells are outfitted with nothing but a cot and a bucket for… fluids. Other than that the small guard’s section has a little desk and wood-burning stove to keep everyone warm.

The jail actually kept prisoners up until the 1950s before it was closed, but not torn, down. After having been restored by the local community, the “2 Celled Jail,” as the directional sign in town calls it, is now a popular attraction along Route 66 where visitors can stop and lock themselves up for a criminally kitschy photo opportunity.

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