I was going to write about Wyoming being the “Equality State,” and some of the misinformation often batted about, but with Halloween stories being conjured left and right I thought I’d leave the really scary stuff of politics for another day and talk ghosts.
Sheridan, Wyoming, nestled snug in the valley of the Bighorns, has its fair share of things that go bump in the night…And I’m not just talking about when the Burlington Northern goes through town at 1:00 in the morning. Residents and visitors have reported specters of women “of an undesirable nature” roaming the rooms of Hotel Rex, where they used to do a lot moaning for a different reason. The disgraced son-in-law of Buffalo Bill Cody is said to haunt the Sheridan Inn where he took his life, or it was taken from him as some people speculate.
There is one spirit who found a home at the Sheridan Inn in life and is determined to remain there through the next. Miss Kate, as she is affectionately known around these parts, is by far the favorite apparition of Sheridan.
Catherine Arnold stepped off the train in Sheridan, Wyoming in 1901. She was a bright eyed twenty-two-year-old from Virginia. Kate walked across the dusty road from the Depot to the Sheridan Inn, once known as the finest hotel between Chicago and San Francisco. Once her feet crossed the threshold of the Inn, it seemed nothing and no one could keep the young lady and the gabled inn apart.
|Miss Kate (courtesy of the Sheridan Heritage Society)|
Miss Kate was beloved by staff and guests of the hotel. In her sixty-four years at the Inn, she served as seamstress, desk clerk, housekeeper, hostess and babysitter. She kept a flower garden behind the Inn, which benefited diners at the Inn’s restaurant as they graced the tables.
Though she never married, it seems Miss Kate had a crush on a local man. This we found when the Museum I work for took possession of many of the Sheridan Inn’s items and found an old ice cream carton decorated as a gift (to be used as a trash can) for the gentleman.
After years of faithful service Miss Kate was forced to leave the Inn in 1965, when developers purchased the Inn with plans to tear it down. Locals saved the Inn and it was purchased and used for dining and dancing.
|Front of Sheridan Inn (courtesy of Kirsten Lynn)|
Miss Kate passed away in 1968, her one wish to return to the Inn. It is said, she was cremated and her ashes buried in the wall of the room she occupied. I can neither confirm, nor deny this part of the story.
Through boom and bust, Miss Kate has remained at the Inn even as it recently sat empty for a many months. Under new ownership the Inn is being restored to accommodate guests, parties and receptions.
Miss Kate’s presence has been felt on a daily basis. She is known to repeatedly turn the lights off and on and open and shut doors. Her presence is strong on the third floor, near her room, with cold spots being felt on that floor and throughout the Inn. One local, reported seeing lights on and curtains open on the third floor, when they drove by at two o’clock in the morning.
As a personal aside: My first year at the Museum, we were asked to remove all artifacts from the Inn and keep them safe until someone saved the Inn and bought it. We arrived at the Inn and the director had kindly purchased coffee and doughnuts for us. After we ate, he announced: “Okay, this is how we’re going to dismantle the contents.” The lights went off. No one moved, and no one said the name we were all thinking. The lights came back on and we got to work. We agreed to blame a faulty electrical system.
The Sheridan Inn plays a small role in many of my manuscripts, but not in THE BALLAD OF ANNIE SULLIVAN. For Hank and Annie’s story, I chose the backdrop of the Bighorn Mountains and a lone cowboy at cow camp. After interviewing local cowboys, who spent some summers alone on the mountains, I started thinking about how that could start playing with a person’s mind…and how they might start imagining things…or not. And if you’re going to have a crazy story, the Renner clan is the family to choose. So, if you liked RACE TO MARRY, you’ll enjoy catching up with Cal and Josie and meeting Hank, one of the boys they adopted.
Annie Sullivan wants only one thing more than revenge for a rape and murder that occurred ten years ago…Hank Renner. Haunting the mountain, she’s kept watch over the handsome cowboy. But this year she did something she’s never done before, something that could change everything. She’s let the man see her—and exposed her soul.
Two lonely souls search for the truth that could solve a murder and a love that could resurrect their hearts.
BARNES & NOBLE
As a treat today, I'm giving away an e-copy of THE BALLAD OF ANNIE SULLIVAN! I hope you love Hank and Annie as much as I do. Their story was so fun to write.
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