White Wolf Saloon -- Douglas, Wyoming's Oldest Bar For Sale, Includes Free Ghost

Founded in 1887, the oldest bar in Douglas, Wyoming, is for sale. Included in the sale is at least one ghost, a working telephone booth, and Don Johnson's pet alligator from Miami Vice.

Renée Jean

August 19, 20239 min read

White Wolf bar in Douglas, Wyoming
White Wolf bar in Douglas, Wyoming (Renee Jean)

Bloody Mary drinks from the White Wolf Saloon are a long-standing tradition for many during the Wyoming State Fair. 

But no longer. 

The Douglas classic is closed, and its owners Diane and Carl Strode have listed the bar for $315,000. The couple, at age 70, are retiring for what Diane told Cowboy State Daily will be the second and final time in their lives.

“This was my husband’s dream,” she said. “And he said, ‘I want, when I retire, I want to go to the Rockies.’ So, every summer, he would head there and look for something that would be like a mom-and-pop place.” 

Carl was a high school history teacher for 30 years, while Diane worked on a horse ranch in Florida for 31 years.  

Over the years, the couple looked for their dream bar in a number of states. When they visited family in Oklahoma, for example. They looked during trips to Montana, Arizona, and New Mexico, too.

“Everything was too big or too much money,” Diane said. 

One day, though, on eBay, Carl found something that seemed interesting and affordable in Douglas, Wyoming. 

A haunted saloon. 

Welcome To Wyoming Winters 

“So, I flew out from Miami, Florida, in the middle of winter, not knowing how to dress or drive or anything in snow,” Diane recalled. 

Despite that, she made it to Douglas — but what she found was terribly disappointing. 

“The place was not what anybody would want to buy,” she said. 

Still, there was just something about the bar. It had character. She could see the possibilities. 

“I was like, we can fix it up any way we want it, you know?” she said. 

She managed to talk the owners into pulling the saloon from eBay, to give the couple time to sell their home in Florida at the end of the school year. 

Next, she just needed to find a house with some acreage for horses. She finally found a listing that looked promising. 

“I told them the same thing, you know,” Diane said. “We can’t come soon, and they’re like, ‘That’s OK.’ And I was like, ‘This is the way things should be.’ Like your words are a handshake. And so that’s exactly what happened. Nobody asked for any money or anything down.” 

June of 2008, the Strodes got their Florida home ready to sell, and Carl finally got to see the saloon his wife had found with his own eyes.

“That was the first time he’d seen it other than in pictures,” Diane said.  

The bar was in tough shape, but it was too late to turn back. The couple dove into the hard work of renovating it.

They gutted the interior, paneled every wall with old barn wood, and somehow managed to go from total dump to ship-shape by August — just in time for the Wyoming State Fair. 

Diane named their newly-opened saloon The White Wolf. That was after the couple’s three half-breed white wolves, which they had brought with them from Florida, not knowing at the time those are not legal in Wyoming. 

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A Place Of Uncommon History 

One of the key selling points of the bar, Diane said, is just its history, which is one of a kind.

“We’re the oldest bar in Douglas, dating back to 1887,” Diane said. “It was built by Theodore Pringle, and he called it the Pringle Saloon, a couple of blocks from where we are located now.” 

Pringle moved the saloon to its present location not long after building it so he could build another bar that he called College Inn. That is also still a functioning establishment with a lot of history in Douglas. 

Additions were made to expand the little Pringle Bar, one in the early 1900s and another in the 1960s. The original bar is still visible and a functioning part of the saloon. Those original walls can be seen through the liquor bottles at the pecan bar where guests sit. 

The Strodes added a hitching post to their western bar, so that people could ride their horses right up to the saloon. 

“I’ve got pictures of that, and we have a drive-up window, and I have pictures of somebody with their horse right at the window there,” Strode said. 

Their eye-catching saloon was photographed not long ago by author and photographer Carol Highsmith.  A print of that photo is now preserved in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.  

“She came two years ago with her husband Ted, and they were going all over the United States taking pictures in every state,” Diane said. “And she said ours was one of her favorite places that she’d ever been in and that she’s writing her life history and she wants that to be on the cover of her book.” 

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About That Ghost 

When the Strodes bought the bar, it was advertised as having a ghost. The goings on since the purchase have not dissuaded Diane from believing that their little western saloon is indeed haunted. 

A former owner of the bar told Diane that things would get moved around in the office, despite the fact no one was allowed in there. 

“She also said sometimes they got snowed in because she lived in Casper and so she couldn’t drive back home,” Diane said. “She would hear different things going on.” 

Diane has experienced similar occurrences. But far from being frightening, however, Diane experienced those things as benign, even friendly, like the ghost is a spirit that wants to protect the bar. 

“Someone from back East contacted me and told me she thinks it is her great-grandfather visiting in spirit,” Strode said. “His name was Adam Hughes and right near the front door there was a payphone. He had a trucking business, and he used the bar’s number for his business because he was always at the bar.” 

The bar’s owners at the time even put a longer cord on the phone, so it would reach Hughes’ customary bar stool. 

One day, though, Hughes just fell off the barstool, dead from a heart attack. 

“We believe that he comes around,” Strode said. “We’ve had lots of instances, you know, where people may get tapped, or they hear noises, or maybe you’ll hear something break, but nobody’s around.” 

Those sounds have included music from a piano whose keys were covered.

Strode said paranormal groups have been to the bar and reported picking up signals with their equipment, suggesting there is paranormal activity.    

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Welcome To The Freak Show 

What customers really like, though, is what they call the “freak show” experience, which starts outside the bar with posed cowboy figures — or who knows, perhaps they are outlaws — perpetually waiting to greet guests or to sit quietly for a photo. 

Inside the bar, artifacts of all kinds cover the walls, sit on the floor, crawl along the ceiling, and fill up just about every possible nook and cranny of the bar.  

It’s a dizzying experience that’s hard to take in all at once. Multiple trips, and likely, multiple drinks, are needed to really take it all in. 

For example, by the fireplace, there’s a huge, dented Coors beer can, above which floats what appears to be a bull’s head. On the opposite corner of the fireplace, there’s a life-size, skull-headed pirate holding a goblet and a cutlass, next to what appears to be a porcelain Christmas stocking that Santa left behind. 

Between these things, over the functioning fireplace, hangs a Red Wolf sign. A number of random trophies and other things sit along the mantle. 

That’s just one tiny, rather uncluttered by comparison, area of the bar. 

Elsewhere, a variety of taxidermied animals vie for dominance along the walls, while the furs of unknown critters are tacked to the ceiling. Creatures range from moose to pheasant and all manner of animals in between.  

Some sport unlikely attire. A brassiere or a baseball cap in their horns. 

No telling what the story there might be. 

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About That Alligator 

And then there’s Elvis. He is a 13.5-foot taxidermied alligator crawling along the ceiling, which came from the Miami Vice television show and was owned by Don Johnson himself.  

“Everything in there has a story,” Diane told Cowboy State Daily. “The barn wood on the walls is all branded. The bar is an old pecan bar from Texas, and we’ve got old ceiling tins from the Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, Wyoming.” 

The tins are probably close to 135 years old, and are the perfect touch to tie everything in the kitschy saloon together.  

There are so many artifacts, it’s impossible to take it all in on one trip. Patrons report seeing new things they missed on every new trip to the bar.  

“We’re selling it as commercial property,” Diane said. “So, they have the opportunity, if they want to use it as a bar, because we’ve hung onto our liquor license.” 

All of the conversation starters that have made the bar a must-visit place in Douglas come with the bar, Strode said, along with the establishment’s liquor license. 

That includes good old Elvis, the 13.5-foot alligator, and, presumably, the friendly ghost who once had a trucking business he ran out of what was once known as Pringles Saloon. 

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Renée Jean can be reached at renee@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Renée Jean

Business and Tourism Reporter