Few places in the country have the feel of the Old West quite like Wyoming. With rugged mountains, foothills, and prairies, the terrain lends itself to visions of saloons, trail rides, and a feeling of isolation that is both beautiful and chilling. It comes as no surprise, then, that one of the most haunted places in the state is a hotel visited by the likes of Buffalo Bill Cody and Butch Cassidy.
It didn't take long for the Occidental Hotel to become one of the most popular sites in Wyoming. Built in 1880, the hotel was conveniently situated near the the Bozeman Trail. The site quickly established a fine reputation for its delicious food and warm hospitality. Some of the Occidental's famous guests included Buffalo Bill Cody, General Phil Sheridan, and even Teddy Roosevelt. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid also visited the hotel after leaving their famous hideout at Hole-in-the-Wall.
The hotel's layout included a saloon, restaurant, and lobby on the main floor and six rooms upstairs. Outside were the livery stable and kitchen. As you can see by the above photographs, the Occidental had a quintessential Western feel -- so much so, that it's speculated that it was the inspiration for the classic "walk down" that so often appears in Western fiction.
As time went on, the hotel began to attract visitors from further and further away. Folks were more than happy to go out of their way for the chance to stay at this famous accommodation. However, when the Great Depression struck in the 1930s, not even the Occidental was spared from economic turmoil. Business dwindled and the Occidental struggled to fill its rooms.
Business never quite returned to what it had been in the hotel's early days, and the Occidental was even closed temporarily from 1986 to 1997. During that year, doors reopened and the hotel was spared from being completely demolished. It took 10 years of dedicated work, but the hotel has regained its original feel and continues to welcome visitors from all over.
There's another side of this hotel's history which has it pegged as one of the most haunted places in Wyoming. As legend has it, back in the 1800s a prostitute lived in the upstairs portion of the hotel. She had a daughter who died of cholera in the northwestern wing when she was a small child. The spirit of this girl continuously appears to unsuspecting guests. Her hair is long and dark and she wears a white gown.
Those who have been haunted by this particular ghost report some peculiar and bone-chilling activity. One night, when a group of hunters from Denver was snowed into the hotel, one of the men woke up screaming at 3 AM. He had apparently been shaken awake by an unknown force, who wildly threw objects around the room.
While the historic Occidental Hotel may not be for the faint of heart, it's certainly worth a visit for those intrigued by the spirit of the wild west.