The Many Spirits of the St. James Hotel
The St. James Hotel offers visitors many unique adventures in Cimarron, New Mexico. This historic structure was rescued from ruin in 1985. It now offers several rooms where visitors might encounter spirits from beyond.
You can stay in the Jesse James Room, which is room 4. You can try the Mary Lambert room, which is 17. You can ask about room 18, but don’t expect to stay there. This room allegedly houses the ghost of Thomas J. Wright and his spirit is reported to be malevolent. Rumor states there were a number of mysterious deaths when guests stayed in room 18.
The structure began as Lambert’s Saloon, built in 1862 by President Lincoln’s chef Henry Lambert. Lambert eventually tired of cooking and headed west to see if he could find his fortune in the quest for gold.
Unfortunately, Lambert never found his gold-laden fortune. He returned to what he knew: cooking. He settled in Elizabethtown and worked as a cook in a place called Cimarron. He worked for Lucien Maxwell. This growing area was part of the New Mexico Territory.
Lambert became so enthused with cooking that he constructed his own place. Lambert’s Saloon opened its doors in 1872. He finally found his fame and fortune, although gold had nothing to do with it. Lambert built onto the structure when he found success with the saloon. He added 30 guest rooms. By 1880, Lambert changed the name to “The St. James Hotel.”
Lambert’s pride and joy rewarded him through the years. Many notable Wild West characters lodged in his hotel and word-of-mouth promotion supported the hotel for years. Notable guests included Jesse James, Wyatt and Morgan Earp, Doc Holliday, Billy the Kid, Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley, Kit Carson and many more. Many gunfights broke out in the hotel with so many outlaws and lawmen under one roof. Estimates state over 25 men were killed during those battles.
The years were not kind to the St. James Hotel. The hotel declined from 1926 through 1985. Owners moved in and moved out. The structure was neglected and it seemed the only future the structure had would be the wrecking-ball. Fortunately, the historic hotel was rescued and renovated to exceed its former glory in 1985. The renovation wasn’t entirely smooth.
Visitors report the second floor is most active. It’s common to encounter cold spots and the smell of cigar smoke. Objects fly off the walls and electrical items commonly short out. Whether you’re interested in the Wild West legacy, or the supernatural possibilities, the St. James Hotel is waiting for you.