The Fort Laramie National Historic Site is one of the most significant historic places in Wyoming. For many, that history includes stories, legends and lore that the place also is one of the most haunted places in the Cowboy State.
When David Martinez and Justin Macomb visited Fort Laramie on Halloween, they weren’t looking for a scare. But Martinez captured some photos that would raise the interest of anyone with a soft spot for the supernatural.
Those photos, which Martinez said could appear to show apparitions in several locations around the fort, is sparking an otherworldly debate. Some say they can make out a floating, ethereal figure while others chalk it up to a trick of light or dirt on the camera lens.
The visit was Macomb’s first, and Martinez hadn’t been since he was a child. The atmosphere was already somewhat eerie when they arrived around noon.
“There was almost nobody there,” Martinez said. “It was like we had the whole place to ourselves.”
Those Beams Of Light
Martinez took photos as they strolled through the historic buildings at the fort. Then as he looked them over, he started noticing things that seemed out of place, particularly how beams of light seemed to appear and unnaturally vanish behind furniture and objects.
“Personally, I didn’t feel anything bad,” he said. “But Justin didn’t like being alone in the rooms. He had bad feelings.”
As they started pouring over the history of Fort Laramie, Martinez and Macomb found several ghost stories that seemed to corroborate what they experienced during their visit.
Martinez said the Fort Laramie and National Park Service do a great job of telling Fort Laramie’s stories. He’s the first to admit the apparitions in his photos were just tricks of the light or glass reflections.
Still, there’s something spooky about them, and everyone likes good ghost stories.
Either way, sharing the photos has sparked a fun debate between those who believe, those who don’t and those who like to keep their options open.
“Who knows?” he said.
Live And Let Haunt
There are many ghostly legends surrounding Fort Laramie.
One of the most famous is the Green Lady, who reportedly wore a green riding habit when she left the fort for her daily horse ride one day and never returned. Some say she still can be seen riding along the landscape on a black horse.
Other legends involve seeing candlelight in the windows at night or hearing voices and footsteps in the historic buildings. More outlandish sightings include an insane blood-covered surgeon and a cavalry soldier brandishing a sword.
Chance Owen Stoner has been working at Fort Laramie for almost seven years. His policy on any hauntings or ghosts at the fort is simple.
“My deal is I leave them alone, they leave me alone,” he said.
Stoner admits he has gone looking for ghosts at Fort Laramie, but has yet to have a spectral sighting of the Green Lady or any other spirit thathaunts the fort. He has heard stories from others who’ve had more memorable encounters.
“A former employee was sitting down at the servants’ quarters (at night) and heard a voice behind her that told her to leave,” he said. “She didn’t stay in the park very long.”
Stoner has encountered some phenomena that he can’t explain. When he closes the door at the Officers’ Club, he can occasionally hear what sounds like someone shuffling a deck of cards.
Then there are the smells.
Every so often, he can detect two distinct smells in the air, but hasn’t found a source for either.
“Rosewater and pipe tobacco,” he said. “For that, I have no explanation.”
Boo Or Bunk?
As for Martinez’s pictures, Stoner said he can’t confirm they’re evidence of ghostly apparitions. But he won’t debunk or deny them either.
Casey Osback, chief of interpretation and resource education at Fort Laramie National Historic Site, told Cowboy State Daily in 2022 that if ghosts exist, there’s every reason to believe Fort Laramie has its fair share.
“With all of the years, from 1834 up to 1890 and beyond, this place has had a lot of folks through it,” he said. “There’s no doubt that there’s a certain sense of energy that this park has.”
Martinez admittedly isn’t a paranormal investigator, but agrees that Fort Laramie would be the perfect place to expect an encounter with the supernatural.
“I’m not Mr. Ghost Hunter,” he said. “But in a place as historical as that, where people served for prolonged periods of time, how could you not?”
Andrew Rossi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.