Cheyenne, Wyoming – The Spirits of the West


It began when we went for a walk in downtown Cheyenne. A helpful hotel employee pointed us toward the city’s oldest commercial building, just up the street, with the words, “It’s haunted.”

Back in 1871, it began as the Addams & Glover Drug Co., but today is home to several antique shops, including Our Place.

Dawn with the bell that rings all by itself

Dawn with the bell that rings all by itself

Bruce and Dawn Bristow, the shop’s intrepid owners, were sceptical about ghosts when they bought it two years ago, but the resident spectre has patently convinced them. Footsteps in an empty room; a glimpse of denim legs in the mirror leaning against the wall; and most significantly, the pealing of the little bell which they inherited with the shop (while Dawn sat beside it!) – these are just a few of the events which converted them to believers. I find myself trying to explain each, though the bell defeats my imagination.

That evening, in search of more spectres, we took a tour of the Historic Plains Hotel. Many presidents and famous people have been guests during its 95 year history. The lobby can be approached from the back of the hotel via Peacock Alley, named for the ladies of the night who once touted for business here.

historic plains hotelOne of these became one of the hotel’s best known ghosts. Rosie, a new bride honeymooning at The Plains, found her husband having a fling with this lady. One has to admire his stamina!

In a perfect example of Western style justice, Rosie shot the pair, then shot herself. Their ghosts can be heard crying in room 444, where the terrible event occurred. According to Leanne Jannicelli, front desk manager, many guests request this room in hopes of meeting their ghosts, and the staff report odd events. And she adds, there are other ghosts here,  including the spectre of a man who was given a ‘final push’ out another fourth floor window. The stories seem to be lost, but the ghosts remain. But perhaps the Chinese are right in their avoidance of the number four?


Exciting as these long past residents may be, Cheyenne’s living ones are worth getting to know. Friendly, helpful and eager to share their hometown’s stories, they have made the visit memorable. Reluctantly, we take to highway 80 once more.

on the road again sThis next section of the highway proves to be a spectacularly beautiful drive. The landscape in Wyoming is extraordinary, varying from flat, featureless plains, to dramatic mountains and buttes (remarkable flat-topped hills that look like they’ve been slice off neat at the top).

The scenery can change within five minutes. We passed a sign indicating we had entered the Medicine Bow National Forest. Where? This is a prairie, not a tree in sight!

buttes s

In less than a minute we turn a bend and there it is, the edge of a forest.

The constantly surprising landscape makes what might be a tedious drive something of a wonderland. Sadly, one cannot simply stop to take photos, most of which couldn’t begin to capture the vast array of colours, shapes and contrasts. But the weird vistas seem to invite the idea that the ghosts of long dead pioneers might still wander this landscape.

outcrops sCheyenne was one of several stops on our cross-America trip. Check out some other memorable stops:  Ogallala, Nebraska     Salt Lake City       The Grand Canyon