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!


  1. Wow sounds like you are having a great time, the treasure map idea sounds fun and I hope no ghosts really do pop up, at least angry ones..haha

  2. That is awesome! I am seriously jealous. A kick butt vacation and a haunted town? Where do I sign up? :)

    Have fun with the treasure map and be sure to let us know if you have any ghostly encounters.

  3. You definitely know how to make a vacation memorable!!

    What time is Melynda on tonight????????????

    1. From 9-10 p.m. eastern standard time. Here's a link for more info about the show and joining the chatroom etc. :)

  4. My uncle lived in Wyoming for 8 years. Complained about it the whole time. I'd go just for those two pictures.

  5. I've never been to Wyoming but Branden has and he loved it! I'm such a pansy for scary stories so your kids are incredibly brave in my eyes! I would have shot down that hill and into the car right as the last chime struck! Have fun with the treasure hunt tomorrow! Sounds like a blast!

  6. OH and even though I'm a total pansy, I would love to buy a cemetery! I adore old cemeteries and even wrote my vows in one back in the States :)

  7. Oh what fun! You're great parents. Your kids will cherish these memories.

  8. Gosh, one forgets just how epic parts of America truly are. Gorgeous.

  9. Clever idea.
    And a haunted town *would* ring the bells twelve times when the sun's at its highest (or an hour before that in summer, because presumably ghosts like to save daylight too). Perfectly true, just not quite honest. Kinda surprised the Scribe didn't cotton on to that, actually. And of course nearly anywhere will have some old ghost stories lying about.

  10. Dear Elisa, . . . ah, the bells ring, the poet Poe turns in his grave, his ghost rises up, up, up through the casket cover--the metal is as nothing to his ethernet! And he pops through the ground and proclaims to the Scribe, "Ah, my lovely young artist, your sense of fun delights me. I will tell the others about you and they will visit you in the days and nights ahead and you will learn the story of the ole wild west! Your mother can write about it; but you are the artist in the family whose illustrations will astound the world."


  11. Your kids are so lucky to have a crazy loony mother. Their minds must be growing by leaps and bounds!

  12. That sounds like a great time. I bet your kids don't even realize how lucky they are to have a Mom that is willing to make believe with them!

  13. The real Justin Bieber is buried there? I didn't know that the one we have isn't real. How much worse can the world get? Multiple Justin Biebers and Zombie Justin Biebers. Boy, it's a good thing your kids know that Google is always right so they can tell the truth to the rest of us. Stop the world! I wanna get off.


  14. Your kids would have a blast with a paper bag and markers! Taking them to a real cemetery is going to be like going to Disney! lol I hope you have a blast but know you better not get eaten by zombies or vampires because I miss the heck out of you!

  15. I have always wanted to see that "Big Sky" country. You children will certainly not forget
    the memories you are making.

  16. I know you guys are having the time of your lives! A vacation sounds fantastic to my pregnant self. Btw..."the real Justin Bieber" cracked me up..LOL

  17. Nice atmospheric use of church bells.

  18. wow a haunted escape!! amazing

  19. I have been to Lander it is beautiful. Nice post. I was raised in Wyoming