The NCRCF prison break, or NCR Correctional Facility uprising, was a revolt made by the convicts held at the NCR Correctional Facility against the NCR Army troopers who were guarding them. After the uprising, the convicts fragmented, with some taking over the Bison Steve Hotel in Primm, a larger group moving into Vault 19 to wage a insurgency against the NCR, while many remained at the correctional facility.
When the NCR expanded eastward into Nevada they took over the pre-War Jean Conservancy facility in Jean and established the NCR Correctional Facility. The facility is located near train tracks that run parallel to I-15 and the convicts were used to maintain and expand them. According to the Powder Gangers, no correcting was done - only manual labor. So when the majority of NCR troops guarding the facility were called away to patrol the Colorado River, the convicts decided to take matters into their own hands. Samuel Cooke, an experienced anti-NCR revolutionary, along with some trusted inmates, secreted small amounts of blasting powder used for railroad work and other makeshift weapons.
When General Lee Oliver requisitioned another group of guards for garrisoning along the Colorado River, Cooke saw an opening to break out and took it. Cooke and his men blasted their way out of their cell block, overwhelmed the warden and remaining guards, killing them all and taking back their freedom. The rest of the convicts joined in when they realized what was happening. Guards who didn't manage to escape the prison in time were killed, while the inmates organized themselves and began ransacking the area.
After the fighting had stopped, the convicts had taken control of the NCRCF and killed the warden and all its guards. However, the group was split on what to do next, some under the leadership of Eddie wanted to stay and control the prison themselves, others under Samuel Cooke's leadership wanted to leave NCRCF and some just wanted to leave. The groups eventually all split, with Cooke and his group traveling into the Mojave (eventually ending up at Vault 19) to wage a small war on the NCR, those under the leadership of Eddie started to raid the local areas around NCRCF and dubbed themselves the Powder Gangers and a smaller group of disorganized convicts left to terrorize the surrounding areas and recently took up residence in the town of Primm.
The speed at which Eddie was able to establish control over the gangers in the wake of Cooke's departure surprised the NCR, which, combined with typical Republic bureaucratic red tape, rendered it unable to organize an effective response for months. By the time the Courier comes to at Doc Mitchell's house, the Gangers rapidly became the largest organized group of highwaymen west of the McCullough mountains making their stretch of the I-15 treacherous to caravaners and citizens alike.
The Powder Gangers were also quick to bolster their supply of weapons and explosives, raiding nearby Sloan for its supply of dynamite. Because of the raid and subsequent lack of dynamite, the quarry workers were unable to work and had to wait for NCR reinforcements. This left Quarry Junction unattended as a pack of deathclaws would make their nest further complicating matters and effectively shutting down the I-15 to Vegas because of both powder ganger raid parties and deathclaws packs.
Because of the imminent threat of gangs of prisoners coming down onto Primm, Samuel and Michelle Kerr left and founded the 188 trading post at the interchange of Highway 95 and 93 in September when the prison break occurred. A month later, the 188 is a prosperous hub of commerce because of I-95 being the only safe route to New Vegas.
- The Courier: "Who are you?"
Michelle Kerr: "Name's Michelle. My Dad and me run this store. His name's Samuel. I take the day shift and he takes nights. We came here about a month ago, when Primm went to hell on account of the prison break north of there. Found a bin to call home and set up shop."
(Michelle Kerr's dialogue)
- The Courier: "Tell me more about what happened in the prison."
Meyers: "I understand that Cooke was behind it all. I kept my head down the whole time. Didn't want any part of it. I stuck around, figuring the NCR would show up and put things back the way they were. No sense in making myself look guilty, right?"
- The Courier: "Who are you?"
Samuel Cooke: "You really don't know? I'm Samuel Cooke. I was the brains behind the NCRCF prison break."
(Samuel Cooke's dialogue)
- Fallout: New Vegas Official Game Guide Collector's Edition pp.43-44: "Powder Gangers
The NCR Correctional Facility is the dominant location of the central Mojave Wasteland. In the distant past, it was the Jean Conservancy, a low-security all-female prison. Under recent NCR control, it was used to house prisoners on work release. The prisoners worked the railroad parallel to the Long 15 under NCR trooper supervision, maintaining the vital land link between the Boneyard and New Vegas. Eventually, prison guards (NCR troopers) were pulled away to run Colorado River border patrol. When the guard staff was low, the prisoners executed a daring and violent escape.
Because the rail crews often used explosives (typically dynamite) to blast through rock or get rid of train cars that were locked/fixed to the line, the prisoners inevitably acquired small amounts that they hid in their cells. When they made their break, they blasted their way out. The interior of the prison was clearly the scene of a large riot where the prisoners used explosives, improvised weapons, and stolen NCR trooper equipment to break through multiple walls and scatter through the desert. A lot of the prisoners weren't in on the escape plan formally; they just got caught up in the moment. Consequently, a lot of them didn't really know where to go when the dust settled. A large contingent of Powder Gangers can be found in Vault 19 through many squatted in the prison and have been informally raiding since then."
(Fallout: New Vegas Official Game Guide faction profiles)
- The Courier: "What can you tell me about this place?"
Carter: "This is where the NCR sent prisoners to "reform" through hard labor. I never saw much reforming around here, myself."
- The Courier: "Who's Cooke?"
Meyers: "Some kind of anti-NCR rebel. Some people just don't like being pushed around and told what to do."
- The Courier: "Tell me about the prison break."
Samuel Cooke: "A beautiful thing. Saved a little blast powder here, hid a makeshift weapon there, and one day I orchestrated a little symphony for the NCR."
(Samuel Cooke's dialogue)
- The Courier: "Tell me about the correctional facility."
Hayes: " . A little bit ago the convicts there staged a coup, killed the guards that weren't able to escape, and have been ransacking the area since then."
- The Courier: "Where can I find Cooke?"
Meyers: "He went north with some of the other guys. Didn't say where, didn't say why. All I know is he's got some kind of score to settle with the NCR."
- The Courier: "Who's in charge of the Powder Gangers?"
Meyers: "Right now, Eddie and his boys run the place. They've got the guns and the dynamite, so they call the shots."
- The Courier: "Do you have any information on the convicts?"
Hayes: "Not much. They've taken to calling themselves Powder Gangers. Mostly because they've taken to using the explosives meant to clear boulders as weapons. They got organized faster than I would have thought, most of them at least. Thankfully the small group in town here seem to have split off from the main force, so they aren't getting anything in the way of support."
- The Courier: "Tell me about the Powder Gangers."
Chomps Lewis: "They're a bunch of escaped cons from down south. The NCR was using them to maintain the railways as part of their sentence. I don't know who screwed up, but the Powder Gangers are loose. It was one group that attacked us and took our entire supply of dynamite."
(Chomps Lewis' dialogue)
- The Courier: "Why's business so good here?"
Samuel Kerr: "When 15 shut down, 95 became the route NCR citizens use to get to the Strip - or limp back home, after the Strip's drained 'em of caps. We get 'em coming and going. Coming, the suckers flush with caps they saved to gamble on the Strip... ...and going, the same folks, but now they're losers who'll trade you the shirt off their backs so they don't starve before they make it back home. Add in the troopers marching back and forth from McCarran and the Dam, and well, let's just say we don't miss Primm."
(Samuel Kerr's dialogue)