Cody Yellowstone’s Spookiest Places Will Get You in the Mood for Halloween
Cody, Wyo., Sept. 26, 2023 – In just a few weeks, many people in Cody Yellowstone will become zombified. Even the sweet faces of innocent little children will begin appearing around town with blood dripping from their foreheads as they cling to the guiding hands of grown-ups, attired in bloody, shredded apparel.
As adults, teens, kids and infants embrace their right to express their inner wacko, Halloween is a reminder that a little quirk can be good for the soul.
“Here in Cody, one of the country’s original Wild West towns, ‘quirk’ comes naturally, and you don’t have to look far to find our strangest and spookiest places,” said Ryan Hauck, executive director of Cody Yellowstone, the marketing arm of the region that includes the towns of Cody, Powell and Meeteetse, parts of the Shoshone National Forest and a large swath of Yellowstone National Park. “This is a great time of the year for locals and visitors alike to show their creative and crazy sides with humor and gusto.”
The town hosts an array of Halloween-themed events such as downtown trick-or-treating and events at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
Here are some of our favorite spooky places in Cody Yellowstone:
Irma Hotel. One of the most recognizable buildings on Cody’s Sheridan Ave., the Irma hotel was built by Buffalo Bill Cody in 1902 and named for his daughter Irma. Irma and her husband Fred Garlow – manager of the hotel – both died tragically of the Spanish flu in October 1918. Irma was only 35 when she died, and Room 35 at the hotel is where there have been numerous reports of hauntings. Among the occurrences guests of that room have reported: water in the bathroom turns on and off by itself, belongings are moved to different locations in the room, and artwork is found on the floor where it couldn’t have simply fallen from the picture hooks. There have also been reports of guests and staff seeing an apparition of a soldier in a cavalry uniform with a sword, but it is only the soldier’s bottom half that appears.
In another room, there have been reports of Irma herself in a rocking chair in the corner of a guest room. And servers in the dining room have reported seeing guests sitting in booths in the restaurant but finding no one there when they return to serve the guests.
In that same dining room, there’s a photo – circa early 1900s – of a ghostly figure hanging out in the dining room surrounded by a few men at the bar, seemingly undaunted by the eerie extra in their group.
J.H. Vogel Building. Now the home of a thriving retail store called the Cowboy Palace, the J.H. Vogel Building is another place with a history of hauntings. When the building opened in 1912, proprietor J.H. Vogel and his wife made full use of every nook and cranny of the building by operating a furniture store in the front and a mortuary in the back. The two businesses were separated by just a curtain, so presumably furniture shoppers were occasionally distracted by the presence of sorrowful mourners paying their respects to their deceased loved ones. Several businesses have operated in the building over the years, and many of those business owners have reported seeing a small boy in strange clothing roaming the aisles.
Cody Cemetery. There have also been reports of apparitions roaming around a field that was once a Cody cemetery. The graves in the cemetery were relocated in the 1960s because irrigation and heavy rains caused some of the coffins in shallow graves to rise to the surface. The effort to relocate the cemetery was only partially successful, and Cody locals have surmised that some of the graves were missed and bodies may still be buried beneath what is now just a field.
Mummy Cave. Just a short hike from the road north of the Shoshone River in Wapiti Valley, a Cody resident discovered a cave with the remains of a remarkably well-preserved, 1,200-year-old man that residents dubbed “Mummy Joe.” The discovery was remarkable for many reasons. He was buried under a massive overhang of a high volcanic cliff more than 6,000 feet above sea level, which offered the perfect climate for long preservation. Joe, archaeologists have surmised, was a big-game hunter, because there were thousands of well-preserved animal bones – probably of bighorn sheep and deer – resting alongside Joe’s remains. There were also perishable materials like arrows, feathers, baskets, beads and nets. Mysteriously, the cave was occupied for many years after Mummy Joe died, which begs the question of why the residents of the cave didn’t move the mummified remains.
Smith Mansion. The Smith Mansion, which locals call “Crazy House,” is a rambling five-story structure perched on a hill on the south side of the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway. The structure was a built bit by bit by owner Lee Smith over many years. Smith and his wife raised two children there, and Smith continually worked on the house, adding architectural elements like seemingly random exterior staircases and containers made from metal scraps. On a windy day in 1992, Lee was working on the upper floors without safety tethers. He fell from the roof and died. After the family moved out, the house was left to slowly decay in the harsh elements. Some windy day, it may crumble to the ground. Until then, it sits, abandoned, on a lonely spot
overlooking the highway.
Chamberlin Inn. This luxury boutique inn is one of Cody’s showplaces, and a delight for anyone who is lucky enough to spend the night in one of the inn’s impeccably appointed rooms. Named for the inn’s original proprietress, Agnes Chamberlin, a couple of the inn’s street-facing rooms once served as a dentist office where Agnes’s husband Mark used to practice. Although he called himself a dentist, there is no record of him ever having a license to practice. So presumably, he was practicing his trade on the un-numbed-up mouths of Cody locals. Just a little nugget that is good to know for visitors planning an overnight adventure in one of the Cody’s most charming accommodations.
The Coffin School. Among the many preserved frontier buildings at Old Trail Town is The Coffin School. Built in 1884 at the W Bar Ranch on the Wood River, the building was indeed used as a school. But it was also the one-time cabin of frontiersman Alfred Nower. One day while hewing logs, Nower accidentally cut his legs. He returned to his cabin in hopes of recovery, but he eventually died of gangrene from his wounds. Like all buildings at Old Trail Town, the Coffin School was moved to the Cody site, reassembled and furnished with frontier-era school desks.
Spirit Mountain. Just five miles from Cody, this 7,890-foot peak is commonly called Cedar Mountain. The prominent peak can be viewed from many places throughout Cody. Town founder Buffalo Bill Cody loved the mountain, and he told his friends he wanted to be buried there so he could forever overlook his beloved town. When he died in Denver in 1917, however, his estranged wife Louisa accepted $10,000 from the city of Denver and the publisher of The Denver Post so that the city could bury the still-famous Wild West Show visionary in Denver instead of Cody. Whether or not that actually happened depends on who you ask. The folks at the Buffalo Bill Grave in Golden, Colo. will assure you that is indeed Buffalo Bill buried in the grave there. Yet there are many people in Cody who believe a different story, one that involves a caravan of Buffalo Bill’s friends, a long drive to Denver, body-switching, a return trip to Cody with the true remains of Buffalo Bill and a secret burial on Spirit Mountain. And that, according to believers of the legend, is where Buffalo Bill Cody still rests today, overlooking the town he founded.
Home of the Great American Adventure, Cody Yellowstone is comprised of the northwestern Wyoming towns of Cody, Powell and Meeteetse as well as the valley east of Yellowstone National Park. The region is known for rodeos, authentic guest and dude ranches, world-class museums and recreational adventures that reflect the adventurous spirit of the visionaries and explorers who brought the remote region to the world’s attention.
Mesereau Travel Public Relations