Between 1893 and 1937 all condemned prisoners in California were executed at San Quentin State Prison and executions were conducted routinely by hanging. In 1937 prison officials decided to change the method of execution to death by lethal gas. A gas chamber was constructed on the prison grounds at a cost of $5,000 and it was finished in early 1938. The chamber was ready for use except for one problem. Would it work? And if it did work, how effective would it be. Prison officials got together to try to figure out how to test the gas chamber and they came to the conclusion that they would need a guinea pig.
With that said, enter Solomon the pig, one of 1100 pigs that were kept on the prison grounds. Solomon was chosen out of the 1100 other pigs because he was the smallest pig they had. He was two years old and he weighed 50 pounds. Solomon was scheduled to die in the gas chamber on March 17, 1938, however like many other condemned inmates, he received a stay of execution of one day when a worker dropped a wrench on a glass tube rendering the gas chamber inoperative. The tube was repaired the next day and on the morning of March 18, 1938 Solomon was given his favorite breakfast which consisted of corn and other, "Fancy slops." Solomon was then put in the gas chamber where he was executed. The process was done deliberately in, "Slow motion" so prison officials could better understand the effects of the chamber. Solomon was pronounced deceased 35 minutes later.
Our hats are off to Solomon the pig for giving his all for the betterment of California Law Enforcement. After Solomon's execution, a total of 196 condemned men and women followed Solomon and met their fate in the gas chamber. Solomon goes down in Marin County Law Enforcement history as being the first subject ever executed in San Quentin's gas chamber. This little piggy never went to market and he never went home, but we can all rest assured that he more than likely went to Hog Heaven.
Attached is a photo of Solomon the pig taken on March 16, 1938, two days before his execution.
Source: S.F. Newspapers