I’ve wanted to blog about the historic Plains Hotel in Cheyenne, Wyoming for a several months now. My husband and I stayed there last September when we traveled to Wyoming for research and then on to Denver for my brother’s birthday. October got away from me with my oldest son’s wedding, then I had a December first deadline. Christmas came, then The Outlaw’s Return released in February. There’s been lots of stuff to talk about, so I put the Plains Hotel on hold. The time has come to give this quaint old hotel a bit of attention.
In its day, it was quite extraordinary. Built in 1911, the hotel came into existence just a few decades after Cheyenne’s rambunctious beginnings. The idea for a luxury hotel was first arose at a meeting of the Industrial Club in December 1909. By February of the next year, financing had been arranged and William DuBois was hired as the architect, and in March a contract was awarded. Construction began in June 1910 and it was completed in March 2011 for $250,000.
Those are the dry details. The fun begins with the hotel’s grand opening. It was attended by oil tycoons, cattle barons, Army officers in dress uniform, and women in the finest fashions of the day. A good time was no doubt had by all . . . except the man who married a bride named Rosie. The story alleges that Rosie caught her new husband with a prostitute, shot them both dead and then turned the gun on herself. Rumor has it Rosie’s ghost walks about the second floor.
I wish I’d known the story when my husband and I checked in. We were on the second floor and I’d have kept my eyes out for her!
Rosie would have provided an interesting memory, but the hotel didn’t need ghosts to grab my attention. I was focused on the beautiful stained glass ceiling, the sweeping stairs and a host of things that reminded me of a scene in Wyoming Lawman that takes place in a fictional Cheyenne hotel. I could picture my characters seated just as I described in the second chapter. Deputy Wiley and Pearl Oliver felt alive as we walked around the lobby. It was almost the same as seeing Rosie.
Over the years, many celebrities have stayed at the Plains. Hollywood has visited while making movies, and so have Presidents. Among the famous visitors were Presidents Truman, Nixon and Reagan, and actors Jimmy Stewart, Karl Malden and Ricardo Montalban. I can’t hear Ricardo Montalban’s name without thinking of Fantasy Island, and in a way that’s where I was . . . my own island of the past, though it wasn’t a historically pure experience. Instead of the gentle clop of horses on cobblestone streets, we heard car horns and ambulance sirens through the open window. And instead of reading by lamplight, we turned on the TV and munched on microwave popcorn.
We had a wonderful time. I hope to go back sometime!
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