Because Halloween is rapidly approaching, it’s time to share a haunted spot in Wyoming. This time, we’re going to Sheridan, Wyoming and visiting the historic Sheridan Inn. Once home to Buffalo Bill Cody and though it has long been closed for sleeping rooms, it remains home to a ghostly spirit by the name of Miss Kate Arnold.
This historic inn, now on the National Register of Historic Places, opened its doors on May 27, 1893 complete with electrical power which ran from a coal-fired threshing machine engine. A whistle would be blown at midnight to remind everyone that the building’s 200 lights should be turned off. Buffalo Bill Cody, who was involved with the Inn from its inception, led the grand opening celebration into the dining room on June 27, 1893.
|Sheridan Inn circa 1900|
When it was opened the Sheridan Inn was said by many to be the finest hotel between Chicago and San Francisco. It immediately became the social center for the Big Horn country area which, at that time attracted many big game hunting parties, including notables from all parts of the United States.
George and Lucy Canfield were the Inn’s first managers, catering to people who stayed at the Inn when their homes were being built, and the area ranchers who would spend their weekends at the Inn. Some even kept their good clothes at the Inn for the next party that would be thrown. Early prices at the inn were $1.00/day for a room, 25¢ for breakfast and 50¢ for lunch or dinner. A stagecoach made regular stops at the Inn so a meal ticket could also be purchased for $7.00, which included 21 meals.
In 1894 Buffalo Bill purchased the business, but not the building, and kept it until 1901, retaining the Canfields as managers. Across from the Inn, Bill Cody operated the W.F. Cody Transportation Company, the stage that ran from the Inn to Deadwood, South Dakota.
When Buffalo Bill was in town he lived at the inn and held many parties for his traveling companions. Later he designed and built the Irma Hotel in Cody, Wyoming, naming it after his youngest daughter. He and his family then lived in Cody but continued to visit the Sheridan Inn often.
In 1901, Catherine B. Arnold, familiarly known as “Miss Kate,” came to Sheridan from Virginia with her parents. At the age of 22 she started working and living at the Sheridan Inn and continued work there for the next 64 years as seamstress, desk clerk, housekeeper, hostess and babysitter.
Miss Kate was well-loved by both the staff and the many guests of the hotel. Flowers from her garden behind the Inn decorated the dining room tables every day. She stayed at the hotel until 1965 when it was closed and sold to a developer, who planned to tear it down and use the land for other purposes. However, the Sheridan Historical Society started a “Save the Inn” campaign that lasted for the next two years. Finally, a newcomer named Neltje purchased the structure and she began extensive restorations on the first floor. The Inn reopened in 1967 for dining and dancing and Ms. Neltje operated the Inn for the next twenty years.
In 1968, Miss Kate passed away and her last request was to return to the Sheridan Inn. Her remains were cremated and her ashes were interred in the wall of the room that she occupied on the third floor for so many years.
|Bar area circa 1930s|
In 1990 the Sheridan Heritage Center purchased the Inn from bankruptcy court with the help of a $100,000 loan and an additional $100,000 in grant monies from the State of Wyoming. The Inn was reopened to the public in June, 1991. The Wyoming Rib and Chop House is the “Keeper of the Inn,” serving both lunch and dinner, and provides banquet and party services at the Inn.
Currently there are no sleeping rooms available for rent at the Historic Sheridan Inn; however, the Sheridan Heritage Center has plans to continue restoration and eventually offer more than twenty rooms for overnight stays.
That being said, Miss Kate’s room has been fully renovated by the Preceptor Tau Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi Sorority, who took on the room as a community project. Miss Kate’s favorite chair has been place next to the wall where her ashes are buried. Today, legend has it that Miss Kate continues to act as guardian over the Inn.
According to staff, Miss Kate’s presence is felt on an almost daily basis. She is known to repeatedly turn lights on and off and open and shut doors. Her presence is very strong in her third floor room often felt by moving cold spots. Cold spots also randomly appear near the front downstairs windows or in the ballroom. At other times, many have reported hearing the sounds of footsteps throughout the old inn. One person reported driving by the inn at 2:00 a.m. to see the third floor windows dark with the drapes closed. However, thirty minutes later, they drove by again and the lights were on and the drapes were open. The inn was obviously closed at that time of the night and according to staff, there would not be anyone on the third floor during these wee hours of the morning.
The Inn was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 7, 1964. Over the years, many famous people have stayed at the Inn including Earnest Hemingway, President Hoover, Will Rogers, Bob Hope, and many more.
Guided tours of all three floors are available or a self-guided floor for the first floor only. Reservations should be made for group tours. The tour is on my bucket list for our next trip to Sheridan. I’ve driven past the Inn several times and fell in love with both the classic charm of the building and the gorgeous bronze statue of a dancing couple on the front lawn. Somehow, I can envision one of the couples in my western historical romances as that couple.
The Historic Sheridan Inn can be accessed from I-90, exit #23 (Fifth Street). Travel one mile west on Fifth Street, just past the railroad tracks and you’ll be there. The town of Sheridan is in northern Wyoming, at the junction of I-90 and U.S. Hwy 14.
Sheridan Heritage Center Inc.
c/o Della Herbst
856 Broadway Street
P.O. Box 6393
Sheridan, Wyoming 82801
For more haunted blogs, be sure to hop over to these blogs of my incredibly talented fellow Roses:
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