Just in time for scare season: a University of Wyoming student wants your spooky stories–specifically in old Wyoming hotels. 

If you’ve had a not-so-logical encounter at The Virginian in Medicine Bow, The Plains Hotel in Cheyenne, The Occidental in Buffalo, The Sheridan Inn in Sheridan, or The Irma in Cody, she wants all the details.

Debbie Cobb has an interesting twist on these stories, though. She’s not looking to compare stories, to scrutinize validity, or to measure ghostly activity in these locations. She wants to see how experience with the paranormal has impacted people’s beliefs. 

Her approach is welcoming for all levels of engagement, or lack thereof, with the paranormal. “I’m not analyzing the truth or reality of ghosts, but the human aspect of it. How they felt when they saw a ghost. What changed for them after the experience?”

Debbie Cobb is majoring in Communication and minoring in Psychology. She plans to attend graduate school for Sociology, so she’s more interested in how and why people think what they do versus what they think. 

“I ask about their beliefs in the paranormal, I ask about religion and the afterlife. How do they talk about these experiences? How do they approach places with legends?

“With my study, I take it all at face value. It doesn’t matter if ghosts are real or not, it’s their experience and how that shaped their beliefs of the paranormal and in general,” Cobb said. 

In some of the stories she’s gathered, people experience an unexpected change in their thinking. “Some of the people didn’t believe in ghosts before they had an experience. It's a big shift in their paradigm.”

For Cobb, she’s a history fan with a paranormal fascination. She has never experienced paranormal activity personally, but “Not for lack of trying,” she laughed. 

She’s visited the Stanley Hotel in Colorado (the pet cemetery was her favorite part), and she runs a blog dedicated to her specter interests, Ghostlandia

The coal miner’s daughter is a fourth-generation Wild West descendant. She sneaks in a history lesson or two with her stories, which is why she’s focusing on these five Wyoming hotels. 

“They have interesting legends. Ties to Bill Cody, two have ties to the Johnson Cattle Wars and two to the railroad. I’m from prospectors, homesteaders, cowboys, and Oregon trail folks who didn’t make it to Oregon. My family is a part of the Wild West.”

Cobb is still taking stories for her study. Email her at dcobb3@uwyo.edu if you have a contribution. Her study is being supervised by Dr. Kenneth Hanson, a University of Wyoming Sociology assistant professor.

Historic Wyoming Hotels

Wyoming's once wild west also incorporated a little luxury. Several fine hotels dotted the state, along trade routes and railroad lines. They have rich histories, and of course, ghost legends.

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