October 3, 2023 |

Photo – Bar in the Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, WY – Courtesy travelwyoming.com

It is the scary time of the year. Have you had a paranormal experience at one of Wyoming’s many haunted hotels? A University of Wyoming student wants to know… for science.

Under the supervision of Dr. Kenneth Hansen, UW undergraduate student Debbie Cobb is assembling hotel-related ghost stories for a future degree in sociology, the scientific study of the processes that shape human society. Cobb, an avid collector of ghost stories, said she is interested in how a perceived paranormal experience changes how people act and what they believe.

Cobb has interviewed guests and employees of five supposedly haunted Wyoming hotels: The Irma in Cody, The Occidental in Buffalo, The Sheridan Inn, the Plains Hotel in Cheyenne, and Carbon County’s most infamous spook-filled hotel, the Virginian in Medicine Bow. Cobb said she chose to focus on ghostly lodging houses because of their association with America’s westward expansion.

Cobb said The Virginian in Medicine Bow has a rich history. Built in 1911 and named to take advantage of the popularity of Owen Wister’s book of the same name, The Virginian is supposedly home to several ghosts. Cobb recounted some of the ghost stories she collected during an overnight stay on the establishment’s paranormally active third floor.

Not every spook is as reassuring as the courteous cowboy ghost. Cobb said the spirit of a jilted lover is said to relive her deadly leap from the hotel’s third story window night after night.

Cobb said she had an unusual experience during her stay at The Virginian. Cobb said she either experienced a significant paranormal event or was the subject of a good-natured trick.

Cobb said because her study is still underway, and to maintain the anonymity of the participants, she can’t disclose her findings until her paper is published. Cobb said she is still collecting stories for her paranormal-themed sociology study.

Cobb said her study isn’t meant to prove or disprove the existence of the afterlife. The UW undergraduate said she is more interested in how having a supposed ghost encounter changes a person’s life.

Cobb is still collecting ghost stories from The Irma, The Occidental, The Sheridan Inn, The Plains Hotel, and the Virginian. Cobb asked anyone who has had an unexplainable experience at any of the five hotels to email her at dcobb3@uwyo.edu.

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