Known as the Lambert Inn when it was built in 1872, the St. James Hotel became famous during its Wild West days, when such iconic and notorious figures as Wyatt Earp, Jesse James, Buffalo Bill, and Black Jack Ketchum were patrons. Located on the historic Sante Fe Trail, which Americans traversed as they traveled west, into land they considered a frontier, it was a rare spot for them to get a drink, buy supplies, or enjoy a bath and a warm bed.
It was also dangerous. Amid the everyday business of ranchers and cowboys, famous gunfighters played cards and stirred up trouble. Men died over poker and filled the ceiling with bullet holes. Some 26 people are believed to have died in the hotel, and many visitors, staff, and fans of the paranormal believe that some of them never left. Inside the restored hotel, which, with the exception of a modern wing, evokes that era, Room 18 is kept empty, since the angry spirit of a man who died at cars is said to still occupy the room. If you believe the ghost hunters who have visited over the years, including a few television crews, he’s far from the only spirit hanging around.
The hotel can be found on lists of most-haunted places in America, but even if you don’t see a ghost, the history and atmosphere make it worth a visit.
Know Before You Go
The St James Hotel is a functioning hotel, so please be respectful and polite to the staff and the guests. While you are allowed to look into the rooms, whose doorways are often open but roped off during the day, they are rented out to guests. Go in the morning or afternoon for the sightseeing; go at night for the restaurant and the bar.