It was the third New York prison built, when in 1825, the legislature appropriated $20,100 to buy the Silver Mine Farm, a 130-acre site with a quarry. The prison was to be self-supporting, and not require taxpayer funding.
Elan Lynds, warden of Auburn (the second New York prison), took 100 Auburn convicts to the site, and used them to build the prison from the ground up.
Other notable wardens besides Lynds were Lewis E. Lawes and Thomas Mott Osborne
January 8, 1983, a riot began with 600-plus inmates in B-block taking 17 Correction Officers hostage and ended 53 hours later.