'Old Sparky'

The Oklahoma State Penitentiary’s on-site museum displays the electric chair, nicknamed “Old Sparky,” used to execute 82 condemned inmates from 1915 to 1966. OSP counselor and museum volunteer Dale Cantrell said that when the lever to the left of the chair was pulled down, the light bulbs to the left of the lever would “light up — and so would the condemned man sitting in the chair.” Hanging on the wall near the chair are pictures of all the men who were executed in “Old Sparky.”

The on-site museum at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary is filled with a variety of interesting items that comprise parts of the vast history of the facility.

Besides being the home of “Old Sparky,” the electric chair used to execute a total of 82 men between 1915 and 1966, the museum houses items made by the inmates, old newspaper clippings and many more interesting facts and artifacts that are part of OSP’s history.

Dale Cantrell, an OSP counselor who has worked at the facility for more than 26 years, is known as the penitentiary’s “walking historian.”

During his off-hours, and as a volunteer, Cantrell works towards accurately updating the penitentiary’s museum to reflect the history of OSP — a maximum security facility that houses, among others, Oklahoma’s death row inmates, a “super-max” high security unit and a medical facility for inmates requiring health care.

Contact Rachel Petersen at rpetersen@mcalesternews.com.

See photos from Petersen’s tour of the museum on Page D1 of today’s paper.

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