Buffalo Photos

From Wyoming Tales and Trails

This Page: Buffalo, Wyoming; Occidental Hotel, "Where the Virginian got his man."



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The Occidental, Buffalo, prior to 1895, near which the Virginian killed Trampas.

Before the gentle reader complains that the above photos looks nothing like the Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, it should be noted that Owen Wister's The Virginian, Horseman of the Plains ends in 1889 with the Virginian becoming a partner in the ranch. The original Occidental, constructed by Charles Buell and A. L. McCray in 1880, was, as depicted in the top photo, a log structure, large portions of which floated down Clear Creek in the floods of 1895 and 1912. See photos below. The interior walls in the original log structue were made of muslin through which one could hear the mice playing at night. The muslin dining room walls were painted bright blue.


Occidental Hotel across the street from the viewer. The hotel consists of the original log structure as well as the two-story gabled building. Photo by Thomas Dalgleish

To the left of the hotel and to the right of the two one-story structures is Clear Creek. A portion of the foot bridge can be seen in the photo. The vehicular bridge is concealed by the wagons. Thomas Dalgleish was the brother of famed Colorado photographer George Dalgleish. As depicted in the next set of photos, as the town grew the hotel was expanded and improved over the years.


Occidental Hotel on left, Big Horn Sentinel Newspaper in center, 1895, photo by Thomas Dalgleish

Buffalo, located at the military crossing of the Bozeman Trail across Clear Creek, traces its beginnings to the establishment of nearby Fort McKinney three miles west of town. The establishment of the fort brought civilian businesses. Charles Buell, a native of Wisconsin, also began what become the area's first bank in addition to the Occidental Hotel, as above noted featured in Owen Wister's The Virginian.


The Occidental, 1902

The present brick and morter hotel takes up the entire block and dates to additions built in 1903, 1908 and 1910, long after the Bishop of Wyoming was unsuccessful in his efforts to dissaude the Virginian from accepting Trampas' challange. Note in the above photo the foundations of a new addition. See also next photo.


Buffalo, 1902

In constructing the hotel next to Clear Creek, Buell did not take his own advice. In 1879, prior to the construction of the hotel, August Trabing moved his mercantile business from its location on Crazy Woman Creek to Buffalo. On the advice of Buell, Trabing built his mercantile establishment on high ground south of the Creek. Trabing soon sold out to John A. Conrad and moved to Medicine Bow where he operated another mercantile business.


Occidental Hotel after the flood of June 11, 1912.

Flood has not been the only time the hotel has had its windows broken out. As indicated by the next photo, other mishaps have occurred.


Front of Occidental Hotel, June 2005. Photo by Geoff Dobson.

On the morning of the day that the above photo was taken, a deer, perhaps in need of a nightcap, entered the bar of the hotel through the glass door and departed through the large plate glass window.

The Hotel claims to have had Wm. F. Cody, Theodore Roosevelt, Owen Wister, Wm. T. Sherman and Calamity Jane as guests. Our present day view of the West of the 1880's has, perhaps, been most influenced by Roosevelt and Wister whose books and articles were illustrated by their mutual friend Frederic Remington. Remington, in fact, in his 20's worked as a cowboy in the west before returning to his native New York.

The town itself is not named after the American bison, but, instead, takes its name from Buffalo, New York. Allegedly, on Buell's suggestion, the name of the town was selected by lot. As luck would have it, Will Hart, from Buffalo, put the name of his hometown in the hat and his slip was drawn. Nor is Buffalo, New York, named after the animal, but instead takes its name from Buffalo Creek which was named either after an Indian who resided in the area or by early French trappers beau fleuve "beautiful river."


Buffalo, Wyoming, approx. 1900. Compare left photo to 1960's photo on next page.