By Jimmy Orr and Jim Angell
The former hub of Wyoming’s off-hours legislative activity — Cheyenne’s Hitching Post — is on fire again.
The hotel, for decades the place where Wyoming’s legislators spent their evenings, caught fire overnight in Cheyenne.
“The Hitching Post on West Lincolnway is currently on fire, with fire crews hard at work,” Cheyenne’s Police Department said. “Please avoid the area (including Lincolnway from Missile Drive to Westland Road) due to heavy smoke causing limited visibility on the roads as well as breathing hazards.”
If this sounds like a broken record, it is.
The shuttered hotel, which fell into disrepair after Cheyenne hotelier Paul Smith passed on in 2006, has been damaged in numerous blazes — including an arson-caused fire in 2010 that destroyed most of the sprawling building on Cheyenne’s west side.
“Investigators found that because [the owners] didn’t have enough money to complete renovations on the property, Dharia and his partner hired a third person to destroy the Hitching Post and collect the proceeds from the insurance policy, the sentencing order states,” reported the Wyoming Tribune Eagle in 2018.
After the fire in 2010, the hotel’s few remaining structures were used as low-cost lodging. However, conditions continued to deteriorate and the city of Cheyenne condemned the areas still in use as a hotel, ordering their demolition in 2018.
There’s not much of the hotel left because of the past fires. The outbuildings are still there — and from the available photos — seemed to be what was on fire Friday morning.
Dozens of fire and police vehicles were at the scene Friday morning. High winds were making the job of extinguishing the blaze more difficult.
Steph Smith, niece of the late owner, said she believes this is at least the fourth fire at the hotel.
“This is at least the third fire there. I know there was one in June 1965, then of course 2010 and now. I think there was a fourth fire, but I am not sure,” Smith said on a Facebook post.
Smith’s recollection is correct. A smaller fire at the Hitching Post was reported in August, 2019.
One mainstay of the hotel was the presence of entertainer Michael DeGreve. Cowboy State Daily caught up with DeGreve last year in Las Vegas where he continues to entertain.