Wednesday, August 8, 2018

St. James Hotel, Cimarron, New Mexico

The St. James Hotel was established by Henry Lambert along the Santa Fe Trail in 1872. By that time countless men, mules, oxen and freight wagons had passed this way for 50 years on this major trade route, 800 miles long, between American and Mexican frontier settlements. The hotel sits along the mountain route which came through Raton, New Mexico. Even though the Santa Fe Trail was no longer used to navigate goods, travelers continued to arrive at the Hotel via stagecoach. It was a welcome oasis, taking a night's rest in Cimarron, even though it was a community whose violent and lawless reputation in 1880 rivaled any Kansas cowtown.

Front of St. James Hotel

Some of its infamous guests included Jessie James, Billy the Kid, Pat Garret, Bat Masterson, Clay Allison, Doc Holliday, Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley. Zane Gray and Frederick Remington are two of the many writers and artists who frequented the St. James during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Wyatt Earp, his brother Morgan, and their wives stayed here three nights on their fateful journey in 1880 from Dodge City to Tombstone. At Las Vegas, approximately 30 miles south of here, the Earps met with Doc Holliday, who followed them to Tombstone.

Bat Masterson & Wyatt Earp

Annie Oakley

Annie Oaskley
Annie Oakley was called "Little Sure Shot." Born Phoebe Ann Moses on August 13, 1860, she died November 3, 1926. Annie stayed at the St. James in September 1886 with Buffalo Bill Cody, Major Burke, and her husband Frank Butler.

Buffalo Bill Cody
By 1872 Buffalo Bill Cody was touring the eastern states in the winter months presenting stage plays on themes about the western frontier. In 1883, he formed his Wild West Show and for 30 years Buffalo Bill was the ambassador of the American west throughout this country as well as Europe. Annie Oakley became famous for her marksmanship while still a teenager. She met Buffalo Bill in 1884 and toured as a feature act with the Wild West Show for 17 years. Sioux Chief Sitting Bull gave her the nickname Little Sure Shot.

The St. James has decorated their rooms to authenticate the way they looked back in the 1880's. They are really nice rooms, and quite expensive as well.

Old Piano

Roulette Table

Bullet holes in ceiling
Its saloon, restaurant and 43 rooms were witness to at least 26 murders during Cimarron’s wilder days. Clay Allison, Black Jack Ketchum, Jesse James, and Buffalo Bill Cody have all left their mark on the St. James, as attested by the numerous bullet holes in the ceiling of the main dining room.  When Henry Lambert’s sons, Fred and Gene, replaced the roof of the Inn in 1901, they found more than 400 bullet holes in the ceiling above the bar. A double layer of heavy wood prevented anyone from sleeping upstairs from being killed. Today, the ceiling of the dining room still holds 22 bullet holes.

The St. James Hotel is said to host several restless spirits. Both the owners and the guests of the hotel will tell you that it is haunted with many unexplained events.  Several psychics have visited the hotel and specifically identified three spirits, as well as many others who just pass through to relive their experiences.  The second floor of the hotel is the most active, with stories of cold spots and the smell of cigar smoke lingering in the halls (smoking is not allowed in the hotel.) 

A prior manager said that “you never see them, but you do feel and hear them.”  Another report from a former owner, states that she walked into the dining room and saw a pleasant-looking cowboy standing behind her in the mirror on the front of the bar. The spiritual activity of the hotel has been featured on the popular television shows Unsolved Mysteries and A Current Affair.  Room 18 at the hotel is kept locked because it houses the ghost of an ill-tempered Thomas James Wright, who was killed at his door just after winning the rights to the hotel in a poker game. Having been shot from behind, Wright continued on into the room and slowly bled to death.

Side Board


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