“Hobo Haven” Discovered After Demolition of Shoshoni Motel in Shoshoni, Wyoming

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

When the Shoshoni Motel was demolished late last month, workers found one extra room — a hobo haven underneath the building.   

“We found a little underground lair,” Mike Dimick, a Shoshoni City Council member and the contractor assigned to demolish the 1950s-era motel, said in an interview with Cowboy State Daily.  

Dimick said the “lair” appeared to have been dug from the ground outside a room on the northwest corner of the property. 

“Somebody had dug out and created almost a hobo living space underneath it,” said Dimick, noting that the nook, which measured about 12 feet long and 12 feet wide, could have been anywhere from 20 to 40 years old.

“It was funny as we were demolishing it,” Dimick added, saying the living space resembled a “prison camp” cell: the occupant had “carved little shelves into the dirt.”  

Dimick confirmed that he did not find a human body.  

Built in the 1950s, the Shoshoni Motel had been abandoned for about 20 years. The town council agreed to destroy it when the town was awarded a grant to build affordable housing in the area.  

Chris Konija, town clerk and police chief, said he and others working on the project hope to have the housing designed and planned within the next two months.  

Historic Sign 

The hotel’s historic road sign, which was installed in 1968 by the parents of current Shoshoni Mayor Joel Highsmith, is safe and sound.  

Photographer Carol Highsmith, no relation to the mayor, shot a photo of the sign in 2010 that has since become a part of her famous Americana collection “Legends of America.”  

Joel Highsmith said the town is keeping the sign for now but hasn’t decided what to do with it. It’s too large to mount on a basement wall, said Highsmith, but it may be auctioned off at some point.  

State statutes, added the mayor, dictate that a town must sell items by auction when their value exceeds $500, as he believes the sign does.  

Thousands in Dump Fees 

Disposal fees on the motel debris, said Dimick, are estimated to be about $15,000, but his company was able to save the town another $15,000 in dump costs by agreeing to recycle the 200 tons of concrete that were removed in the process.  

The concrete is to be repurposed for future town projects.  

The hobo haven wasn’t the only interesting discovery in the project, said Dimick. Construction oddities in the old building piqued his interest as well.  

“It was interesting to look at how things were built, when it was built,” he said. “To think the world would let us build like that again for economical purposes – they just wouldn’t.”  

For example, said Dimick, one of the building’s foundations was constructed of cinderblocks with no mortar to hold them together.

Lip Rippers Dropped Too 

In addition to the Shoshoni Motel, the vacant tackle shop Lip Rippers was demolished in late April as well. The store’s location is slated to become another housing site.  

Dimick said the rubble from Lip Rippers has not been disposed of yet, but he’s estimating dump fees for that project at around $8,000.  

There were no odd discoveries at Lip Rippers but, as with the motel, many citizens in the area struggled with the demolition because they had sentimental ties to the condemned building.  

“That one was pretty straightforward,” said Dimick. “Just knock it to the ground; take a lot of criticism.”  

Although some disagreed with the demolition of both the motel and the tackle shop, Dimick said many residents are excited to see the new housing in town and Shoshoni’s potential growth.  

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