Wyoming’s dizzying Smith Mansion is rumored to be built over a mine shaft or by the hands of a madman or as a perverse joke, but the truth is that it is simply the work of a man who could not stop building.
Located in the picturesque Wapiti Valley, the former home of builder and engineer Lee Smith rises out of the landscape in a seemingly random collection of wooden terraces and staircases. Smith began building the home for his wife and children from locally harvested logs and wood, and early on, the house had a fairly mundane form. However, after completing the basic home, Smith continued to build, adding extra floors and seemingly tacked-on balconies, all from logs he would collect in his small pickup. Even after his devotion to the building project led to a divorce, Smith simply redoubled his efforts, building winding organic staircases and scenic terraces on the upper floors. Tragically, Smith fell to his death while working (untethered, as was his way) on one of the upper balconies.
For years, the Smith Mansion sat empty, but always remaining a local landmark, as it’s visible from the road. Smith’s daughter, Sunny Smith Larsen, had hoped to raise funds to open the building to the public. But in 2019, Smith Mansion sold to a buyer who runs nearby tourism and lodging companies and has not yet decided on plans for the iconic structure.
Know Before You Go
Smith Mansion is private property and cannot be visited, but it can be viewed easily from the road. It is on the left side up on a hill as you drive from Cody to the eastern entrance of Yellowstone.