Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lander, Wyoming: A Haunted Town

We're still on vacation in Wyoming.  There are many beautiful places around here.

Photo credit
Photo credit 

    But one place in particular caught my kids' interest.  As they played in the park yesterday, they noticed a cemetery on a nearby hill.  "We should go there," the Scribe said.  "Butch Cassidy and his gang came here.  Maybe someone famous is buried up there.  I bet it's haunted!"
    I laughed.  "You crack me up.  You really want to visit a cemetery?"  
    "Only because it's haunted."  
    So the kids continued playing.  At eleven o'clock a church bell rang--loud and clear eleven times--my kids were so busy playing tag and having the time of their lives, they didn't even notice the bell and how close it was to lunch.
    We finally left the playground about a half hour later and started walking uphill.  "This is gonna be epic!  A real, live haunted cemetery.  Just imagine which outlaws are buried there!" the Scribe practically squealed.
    It wasn't until we hit a dead end that I started having some fun with the idea.

     "Why is this sign here?" the Scribe asked.
     "I think it's private property," the Hippie said.  "But who in their right mind would buy a cemetery?"
     "Well, let's think about that.  If the cemetery is just up this hill, and someone else does own it, why would they buy a cemetery?" I asked.
    "Maybe the REAL Justin Bieber is buried there," the Hippie said.
    "Or Michael Jackson," I said.
    "Wait," the Scribe said, "Michael Jackson is dead?"
    Where in the heck has she been?
    "I bet the worst outlaws are there."  A smirk lit the Scribe's face and she turned to her siblings.  "Or a vampire bought this land.  He buries all of his victims in those graves so when they come back to life, no one will be there to stake them!"  As I looked at her I realized the whole thing was an elaborate scheme she'd concocted to scare her siblings.  I had to get the one-up on her.  Sometimes people need a taste of their own medicine--sometimes it sucks having a writer for a mother.
    "Scribe," I whispered.  "It might sound crazy, but this town, this place . . .  There's something weird going on here--it's all too familiar.  Why would a cemetery be blocked off?  What are they hiding?"  She shook her head and continued listening.  "Once, I heard a story about a ghost town.  Evil ghosts would come from the graves and haunt the older buildings in town.  But we can't be there.  In that town, when the sun was at its peak in the sky, the church bells would ring exactly twelve times.  That's how people knew the ghosts would be coming."
    "Really?" the kids asked.
    "Yeah."  I looked upward--like a flippin' ninja--because I'd timed it just right.  As we turned to walk back down the hill and the kids shuddered about ghost towns, that's when the church bells started ringing.
    Once . . .
    Twice . . .
    I swear, even I got chills!
    The kids started counting after that and with each sound their fear and excitement grew.  "Nine . . . Ten . . .  Eleven . . . Twelve."  
    The last bell rang out long and hard, then silence fell.
    "Oh. My. Gosh!" the Hippie squealed.  "This place IS haunted."
    The kids talked about old Butch and everything they've learned about the west.  They went on and on about when we went to Deadwood, SD and saw places Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley visited.  They turned the conversation back to Butch, said he was only in prison once, near the place we're staying right now.  
    When we had finally walked back to the hotel, the Scribe looked at me.  "I don't believe any of this, not really.  That's why I'm going to google it--because you tease, but google ALWAYS tells the truth."
    She gasped at each page she found.  Stories upon stories like this, The Lander Bar Ghost, filled the pages.  Apparently Lander, Wyoming has been listed in the top three most haunted places in the West!
    So, we're having fun with this.  We might go visit some of the "haunted" buildings in town--including the Cowfish which has been written about multiple times.
    And for tomorrow, I found the real entrance to the cemetery; it's on the other side where it isn't blocked off by private property.  Anyway, Cade and I bought some old-looking paper and other things.  We're taking the kids on a treasure hunt that will lead to the cemetery.  I hope the kids will have a ball reading a treasure map and going on a real adventure.
    A Reminder . . .
    Melynda Fleury will be on Journal Jabber tonight. I'm so excited to hear her interview!