The Friendly Ghosts of the Irma Hotel
The Irma Hotel is one of the most recognizable buildings on Sheridan Ave., and most tourists and many locals stop at the remarkable 115-year-old hotel to watch the nightly Wild Bunch Gunfighters in the summer, enjoy the hotel’s famous prime rib dinner buffet, admire the room-long Cherrywood bar that was gifted to Buffalo Bill by England’s Queen Victoria and shop in the hotel’s awesome Emporium.
According to some believers, tourists and locals aren’t the only ones observing all the fun at the hotel that Buffalo Bill Cody built and named for his daughter Irma. The Irma Hotel, they say, is home to friendly ghosts, who float through the halls, hang out in a few of the rooms, make mischief in the dining room and – in their best Hogwarts imitation – float in and out of a photograph on the wall of the dining room.
Let me be clear; I don’t know what to think. While the Practical Corrie is convinced there is always a rational explanation for these unusual occurrences, Open-Minded Corrie isn’t so sure.
Numerous guests have reported hauntings in the hotel’s Room 35. Water in the bathroom turns on and off by itself, and guests have reported clothing and other personal items neatly moved to different places while they were sleeping. Artwork has been found on the floor in places where it couldn’t have simply fallen from the hooks. And there have been reports of guests and staff seeing an apparition of the bottom half of a soldier in a cavalry uniform with a sword.
Room 16 is another location where guests have reported unusual sightings. One frequent report is an apparition that matches the description of Irma Cody Garlow sitting in a rocking chair in the corner of the room. Irma died of influenza and pneumonia in the hotel when she was 35 just a few days after her husband and hotel manager Fred Garlow, died of pneumonia.
Servers in the dining room have reported seeing guests sitting in the booths in the restaurant but finding no one there when they return to the table to serve that guest.
And here’s one of my favorite ghost stories. There’s a photo in the hotel dining room that shows a ghostly figure in the lobby in the early 1900s. The photo is of the dining room when it was still a bar and there are a few men in the picture who appear undaunted by the shadowy figure. I always wander over for a look at the portrait when I’m getting my prime rib fix.
There have been plenty of paranormal investigators who have explored the hotel, and many have reported an unusual amount of energy and just-plain-weird stuff in Room 20, the Colonel Cody Suite. Some employees have said they’ve seen ole’ Bill himself wandering the hallways late at night, and one employee recalled hearing spurs jangle in the bar when there was no one there.
While I’ll always be a little skeptical about these spooky tales, this time of year I’m a little more apt to be open to the possibilities. If spirits are truly there eternally occupying old-fashioned photos and playing with water, I am comforted and not surprised by their friendly dispositions. This is, after all, Cody, where friendly hospitality has been a tradition for more than a century.
Until next time, I’m loving ghost stories and life here in Cody/Yellowstone Country.