Irma Hotel

More From Wyoming

The spirits of Buffalo Bill and his daughter still stay in their favorite place.

Bill keeps a watchful eye and Irma is still a hospitable hostess!

Their guest from hell still hasn’t left…


“Just the sweetest hotel that ever was.” (William F.”Buffalo Bill” Cody)

I agree with Buffalo Bill! Tom and I visited the two story, historic Irma Hotel and felt that we had stepped back in time to an elegance that appealed to the rich and everyday folk alike.

It has a large sculptured buffalo head attached to the outside 2nd floor central corner, where the hotel turns east along Sheridan Avenue. Buffalo Bill’s private suite and veranda are just to the right of it. Below the buffalo head is the hotel’s name, THE IRMA HOTEL.

On the outside of the first floor on 12th street, there is a fine, wide, covered porch that provides amble room to sit and watch the people go by. The side entrance brings the guest into the dining room. The front entrance leads to the hotel bed and breakfast. The left side entrance leads into the old dining room, that is used for a variety of things. There are long mirrors on the walls.

The staircase in the lobby area goes up to rooms that are in the original part of the hotel. When The Irma Hotel opened, there were forty rooms, which weren’t up to 21st century standards. The bathrooms were down the hall, etc. What people of the time thought were luxuries, today are considered necessities, like a private bath.

Recently, the current owners remodeled twenty-two of these rooms, taking down some walls to enlarge the space, and adding private bathrooms and thus making them into suites, with Victorian furniture and decor. Each room is named for a historic character from Buffalo Bill’s time, including Buffalo Bill himself. His name is still on his old, historic suite.

What is now the glorious dining room, facing Sheridan Ave., was where the spacious saloon and billiard room were located when The Irma Hotel opened its doors. The beautiful, French-made cherrywood bar and backbar gifted to Buffalo Bill by Queen Victoria still stands in its place of honor, behind the dining room counter.

The 1929-30 annex is a two story cream-colored addition that was built on the lot next to the dining room area on Sheridan Avenue. It has fourteen rooms on each floor. Each floor is connected to the northwest side of the original structure by hallways.

Buffalo Bill would approve of the extras that are offered today to guests and the public. The old dining room is used for parties and events, and there is a gift shop as well just off the side hall across from the old dining room.

For the price of tickets, there are various tours that can be taken, as well as the nightly gun battle between warring cowboys on the hotel’s side street. No one is ever hurt because of the defective bullets bought at Walgreens and Walmart, according to the cowboys participating in the street gun battle.

A cowboy on one side wonders, “I can’t hit anything! Where did you buy the bullets?” The cowboy responsible for buying bullets, full of regret, says, “I bought them at Walgreens.” The same thing happens on their foe’s side of the gun battle.

Community events, like the Mother’s Day horse auction have been held in the street in front of The Irma Hotel. Buffalo Bill would enjoy that as well.



In 1895, William F. Cody, known as Buffalo Bill Cody, founded the town of Cody, Wyoming. The Irma Hotel was one of three hotels that was built by Buffalo Bill. Its location was conveniently near the town’s railroad station; to provide lodging for the lucrative visitor business.

In 1902, The Irma Hotel was named for Bill’s youngest daughter, Irma Cody, and opened to serve visitors from many countries as well as America. These folks included summer tourists, those who wanted to visit Yellowstone National Park, wanted to hunt the big game, and businessmen wanting to learn about investment opportunities in mining and ranching.

He financed its construction from the proceeds collected from his Wild West shows. Buffalo Bill held tryouts for his Wild West Shows near this hotel, and had established his own ranch in Cody as well. He enjoyed staying at The Irma Hotel himself, reserving two suites for himself, and had an office there as well.

The Irma Hotel was designed by a Lincoln Nebraska Church architect by the name of Alfred Wilderman Woods. Exterior walls were constructed from river rock and sandstone from quarries from Beck Lake, just south of Cody.

The Irma Inn’s large fireplace was made up of a creative mix of minerals, rock, ore and even fossils from the Big Horn Basin. Queen Victoria was so pleased by Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show command performance done for the British Royal family, that she gave him a very handsome cherrywood bar, made in France.

In 1913, Buffalo Bill was forced to sign the Irma Hotel property over to his estranged wife, Louisa, probably because of a divorce settlement. After he died in 1917, The Irma Hotel was foreclosed on, and sold at auction to Barney Link. A kind man, Barney in turn sold it back to Louisa, who lived there until she died in 1925.

The Irma Hotel has been fortunate to always have owners who were willing to keep her competitive with competing hotels and inns. Owners, Henry and Pearl Newell, did a good job running the Irma Hotel, and were able to put money back into it, expanding the building to accommodate the needs of visitors. In 1929, they built a northwest addition to serve the automobile travelers.

After Henry Newell died in 1940, Pearl continued owning and running the Irma Hotel by herself until she died in 1965. In her will, Pearl willed the hotel’s extensive collection of Buffalo Bill’s artifacts and memorabilia to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, and provided funds as well to keep it going.

On April 3rd, 1973, The Irma Hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places by the owners to protect it from people who might have been tempted to tear her down in the future.

In 1976-1977, the southwest addition was added. The need for rooms jumped, and they answered it by expanding.

The recent restoration and renovation mentioned above kept within The National Register of Historic Places guidelines.. On the NRHP report, many of the plumbing fixtures used are patently antiques—marble stands and intricately worked faucets—but antique and modern designs have been fitted together to create comfortable, functionable and aesthetically pleasing bath rooms and sitting rooms.”

The spirits who stay and visit here like the new improvements, and have no complaints, though some have issues they are trying to work through.

Listed below could be some reasons why they prefer this world, or can’t seem to cross over to the spirit world yet.



People who thoroughly enjoy running a business while alive, still like to stick around and do what they can to help in the afterlife.

The Historic Thayer Bed and Breakfast, MN (The spirits of the original owners, the Thayers, step in to help the living owners in friendly ways).

The Casablanca Inn, FL (The spirit of the original inn owner has put herself on the staff, becoming the guest hospitality overseer).

The Bullock Hotel, SD (The spirit of Seth Bullock has decided to be a hands-on spectral owner, as the living are dumb as rocks, allowing gaming into his hotel).

The Irma Hotel, WY (Both Buffalo Bill and Irma still enjoy their time at their favorite place in this world, while keeping friendly eyes on the staff).


People who have enjoyed a hotel and its saloon while alive, like to stay or visit there when they are in spirit form. Former soldiers of any era sometimes like to tease the living for chuckles.

General Wayne Inn, PA (Spirits of Hessian soldiers who died during the Revolutionary War enjoy getting their chuckles in ingenious ways at the expense of the living).

Kolb Ridge Court housing development, GA (After building exclusive homes on this former Civil War battle field, spirits of soldiers casually took strolls through the homes. One fun-loving soldier decided to move in with the living residents).

Saint Francis Inn, FL (The spirit of the soldier who killed himself when denied his love relationship with a slave woman, likes to flirt with the living staff, and kiss sleeping brides here on their honeymoons).

The Irma Hotel, WY (The Irma Hotel has its own soldier spirit, who is full of fun).


People who in life were nasty, crabby or sadistically cruel, don’t improve in their mindset, character or attitudes after they pass.

Collingwood Art Center, OH (The spirit of a crabby, hateful nun hasn’t changed a bit from when she was alive).

Ham House-Pirate Captain, IA (A pirate was caught and punished for his misdeeds, thanks to Mr. Ham. After being released from prison, many years later, he came back to murder Mr. Ham’s daughter, but was shot dead through the daughter’s bedroom door. His spirit is still trying to murder, but is stopped by the passage of time and the fact that he has no body).

The Irma Hotel, WY (Sometime in the past, the Irma Hotel had their own “guest from hell.” This mean, twisted male individual with no conscience liked to bully other men and to hang his male victims from his window with a belt around their necks, perhaps even killing some of them. He eventually got his comeuppance, but he never repented of his evil pleasures).


Sometimes spirits who have behaved badly in this world, are afraid of what may await them in the spirit world.

Alcatraz Prison National Park, CA (An executioner for the Mob, Butch, was murdered in the laundry room. His spirit remains because he feels that he will receive judgment on the other side, because of all the killing he did).

Saint Augustine Jail, FL (A prisoner was convicted and hanged for a crime he didn’t do. Because he had committed plenty of other crimes that he didn’t get caught for, he told a medium that he was afraid of being punished on the other side).

The Irma’s Hotel former guest from hell may still be a spirit in residence because he may be afraid to cross over to the spirit world.



General Activity

The Hallway that runs by the best room in the inn (The Colonel Cody Room), is an active spot.

Footsteps are heard going up and down the hallway when no one living is present in the middle of the night.

Knockings on the hallway walls are also loud enough to wake guests up.

The Spirit of Irma – Room 16

She is a warm, friendly presence.

Still the hospitable hostess, she likes to visit guests who stay in her old room, while sitting in her favorite spot; the rocking chair that is found there.

The Spirit of a Confederate Soldier – Room 35

Still a fun-loving soul, he gets his personal chuckles by appearing in front of guests who stay in this room, surprising them to his delight.

When a housekeeper was standing in the hallway, she looked over and saw half of this soldier, from his waist down, dressed in his Confederate uniform.

The Spirit of Buffalo Bill

Buffalo Bill still likes to keep an eye on the staff.

When a server was setting up for an event in the old dining room, he was startled to see the face of Buffalo Bill in the long mirror on the wall of the dining room, watching him.

The waiter dropped a large tray of food in fright.

Visits Favorite Place

Buffalo Bill also enjoys visiting his old suite with the balcony veranda overlooking the intersection of Sheridan Ave. and 12th Street.

He finds peace here.

His Issue

If you look like someone he detested, don’t stay in his suite, or talk to him first.

A couple who stayed soon found out that the wife did resemble someone who Buffalo Bill didn’t like.

When she was inside, something hit her on the arm.

When they went out on the veranda, an unseen presence knocked her drink out of her hand.

Let’s Talk

The husband called to the unseen presence for a talk inside.

The husband told the spirit not to hurt his wife, and that they planned to stay one night in the suite. He asked for a peaceful stay.

That did it. The unseen presence realized that the wife wasn’t the person he thought she was, and straightened up and let them have the room in peace.

The Spirit of the Horrid Guest

This sour, former bully/killer guest presents himself as a menacing presence. He has been felt by guests, psychics and sensitives.

On occasion he has appeared briefly to guests and staff.

While he bolsters all his energy to give out a negative aura, he hasn’t tried to hurt anyone living.

Getting His Chuckles

He is willing to talk to paranormal investigators and has told them some chilling things as he expounds on his true feelings and desires.

Perhaps he hasn’t done anything to guests and staff because he is afraid of being made to leave through an exorcism or blessing.

So he talks tough and enjoys scaring the less experienced paranormal investigator, or hapless guests who spend the night in his room.


Besides the many reports of personal experiences from guests and staff alike, as well as many psychic mediums, quite a few paranormal investigators over the years have caught hard evidence that backs up the experiences reported by staff, and guests.

For example, paranormal investigators asked the spirit of the former bully if he indeed did hang men out the window with belts. “Yes” was the answer. “Did you enjoy it?” “Yes.” “Would you like to do it again?” “Yes.” (What a charmer!)



A Huge YES INDEED is in order.

The spirits of Buffalo Bill and daughter Irma still reside in their favorite place, though Bill also visits his Ranchin Nebraska, Buffalo Bill’s Ranch State Historical Park. It has all of his memorabilia on display in the house museum and barns on the property.

Both spirits still supervise the living, and are cordial spectral hosts.

They also probably help to control the guest from hell, who may be stuck because of all his cruel deeds in life. He does try to frighten the living, but doesn’t actually cause pain. He seeks to have power over people who he sees as weak, but is only partially successful.



The Irma Hotel
1192 Sheridan Avenue
Cody, WY 82414

You really can’t miss The Irma Hotel, as it sits right on the southwest corner of Sheridan Avenue and 12th street, with its structure being on both streets. It is smack dab in the middle of downtown Cody, Wyoming.


  • The Ghost Hunter’s Field Guide
    by Rich Newman
    Llewellyn Publications
  • Wyoming Area Paranormal Society
  • PERSONAL Experiences of staff
  • Uploaded on Feb 19, 2011 –

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

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