Visiting the historic Occidental Hotel, Buffalo, WY
By John Roberts
Los Angeles, California
October 25, 2016 9:21am CST
The crown jewel of Buffalo’s revitalized historic downtown is the Occidental Hotel. Buffalo is located in northeastern Wyoming and boasts great wild west history. The hotel is nothing special architecturally to look at but you have to consider its history as the doors opened in 1880. Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover were once guests as were Buffalo Bill Cody and Calamity Jane. The notorious Hole-in-the-Wall outlaw hideout was nearby and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid frequented the hotel saloon. Well known gun for hire Tom Horn was another guest. Many years later Ernest Hemingway stayed at the Occidental while writing “A Farewell to Arms.” So to walk the wooden floors is to follow the footsteps of legendary (or infamous) western figures. The Occidental was once considered one of the west’s grand and elegant establishments until the depression triggered a slow decline of decay into the 1990s when the crumbling hotel was headed toward the wrecking ball. New ownership saved the Occidental with a ten year restoration into a deluxe ten suite hotel. The lobby is not large by today’s standards. Things and people were smaller back then. You are stepping back into time upon entering the lobby which possesses a turn of the century feel in furnishings and decor. A fireplace roars. Old hotel guest ledger and Buffalo newspapers are displayed. Down a hallway are faded photos of famous guests and the hotel through the years. There is an ancient wall phone like you see in the movies. The front desk looks exactly as in old photos. Next door, the Occidental Saloon has also been restored to its former glory. So you step up to the bar for a shot of whiskey and imagine being elbow to elbow with Butch and Sundance. The restaurant is called The Virginian because author Owen Wister (who write the western classic “The Virginian”) was an Occidental guest. The Busy Bee Cafe has gained notoriety as a setting in the “Longmire” mystery novels written by local residence Craig Johnson. All is calm and touristy now but the Occidental was a place where real western figures and outlaws came to. Not a movie set. The real deal.
5 people like this