Earlier this week, I was in Cimarron, New Mexico and spent some time at the St. James Hotel, walking in the footsteps of some of the West’s most notable figures, including the Earp Brothers, Annie Oakley, Buffalo Bill Cody, Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson, Billy the Kid, Jesse James, the artist Frederick Remington, and author Zane Grey, just to name a few.
All of them passed through the same door I used, and checked in at this desk. I have to confess, I was a bit giddy over all this history.
The St. James Hotel, or as it was known in its early days, Lambert’s Place, was an infamous fixture on the Sante Fe Trail, known as much for its good food and fine rooms, as it was its wild goings-on and gunfights.
Lots of gunfights.
The original owner, Henri Lambert, had anticipated that trouble might find its way to his large first floor saloon, so he had the builder install a double thick hardwood floor for the rooms above so that no guests would be accidently killed by the unruly rabble below. The tin ceiling still sports a number of those original bullet holes.
And while my current project is set in Wyoming, nearly 30 years forward from the wild days of Cimarron, I have to admit that being someplace with this much history within its walls had my Muse singing like a hallelujah chorus.
After inspecting all the old rooms, prowling the hallways (sadly, no ghost sightings) and taking in all the wonderful old photos displayed, I decided that the real experience of the St. James is bellying up to the bar, ordering a drink and wondering who I might have found next to me, if it was, say a hundred and forty years ago…
More information about the St. James Hotel, as well as how to make reservations, can be found on their website. You might find yourself in the company of Annie Oakley or Jesse James. Or me.