The Cursed and Haunted History of Casper’s World Famous Wonder Bar
Yesterday, owners of Casper's World Famous Wonder Bar announced they will be selling the iconic downtown saloon next month.
A Casper institution for over 82 years, the Wonder Bar has seen its fair share of turmoil, surviving nearly a dozen owners, several name changes and even a so-called curse.
The building dates back to 1914. It was originally a pool hall and was later known as The Mint Bar. It was renamed the Wonder Bar shortly after prohibition ended in 1934 and became the anchor of Saloon Row, a notoriously rough and rowdy block on South Center Street.
In 1942, then-owner Al Swanson began a tradition that would later become his calling card, allowing cowboys on horseback to ride into the bar, purchase a beer for themselves and their horse, and then head out the back door into the alley.
One of those cowboys was Joe Lowndes, a member of the notorious outlaw gang the "Wild Bunch". The historic saloon also hosted the likes of John Wayne, Ernest Hemingway and Dizzy Gillespie.
The Wonder Bar's most famous visitors, however, may have been ghosts.
It’s reputed to be, arguably, the most haunted bar in Wyoming. Employees have reported hearing footsteps follow them in the basement along with lights turning off by themselves.
Others have heard what they believe were ghosts bellying up to a stool at the empty bar after hours. Some have even reported hearing the voices of children playing and laughing upstairs.
Guests and employees have also reported witnessing the image of a cowboy accompanied by a woman in a white dress.
One of the most popular Wonder Bar legends involves a cleaning lady and her cat. According to the story, the cleaning lady brought her cat to the bar one night, where they both saw a ghost walking down the stairs. Evidently, the cat was so terrified that its fur was standing on end.
In the 1980s, the so-called "Wonder Bar curse" began. It started when a patron fell down the stairs and died. Then there was a deadly shootout on Center Street, which led to a series of name changes.
For a while , it was called Tommyknockers, then the Cattleman's Club, then Break Time, then Bootleggers.
Finally, it was purchased in 2003 and officially renamed the Wonder Bar.
Over the decades, one thing has never changed. For generations, it was always a place where a stranger was just "a friend we haven't met."
It's more than just a bar, it's more than just a historic building. It's part of the fabric of Casper. Here's hoping the new owner's honor that legacy when they reopen it in a few months.