For Sale: Laramie’s Cowboy Saloon, Where Chancey Williams Was Launched

Famous for its live country music and helping launch the career of Chancey Williams, Laramie’s Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall is up for sale. In fact, Chancey's annual White Trash Bash is set for April 6 at the Cowboy. The bar is listed for $3.4 million.

RJ
Renée Jean

March 16, 20246 min read

The Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall in Laramie, Wyoming, which helped launch the career for country music star Chancey Williams. It's for sale, listing at $3.4 million.
The Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall in Laramie, Wyoming, which helped launch the career for country music star Chancey Williams. It's for sale, listing at $3.4 million. (Courtesy Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall)

There are two places in Laramie where everyone who’s anyone goes for authentic Wyoming nightlife and to be seen on a Friday or Saturday night.

One is the iconic Buckhorn Bar, home of the legendary Buckhorn Roll, bullet hole in the mirror and two-headed horse. The other is the Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall, the place that gave Wyoming-born and raised country music star Chancey Williams his start.

Both bars are for sale by the same owner, Mary Hopkins. The Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall has just joined the Buckhorn on the marketplace, for $3.4 million by The Acre Co. in Laramie. The brokers are Shelley and Jerry Peterson.

Jerry told Cowboy State Daily he remembers going to both the Buckhorn and the Cowboy when he was younger.

“The late-night Friday and Saturday nights was the Cowboy and the Buckhorn, and you’d go back and forth between the two,” he said. “Pretty much everyone went to them.”

The two venues had very different musical atmospheres, though, for dancing the night away.

The Buckhorn focused more on rock music, while the Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall is well known as a live country music venue.

A Place Where Stars Are Born

Tyler Hopkins remembers Williams playing at the Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall often when he was in college at the University of Wyoming.

“I think that’s the biggest thing in the last 20 years has been hosting Chancey Williams,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “That’s been a really big evolution of the Cowboy. He started playing there in his college days and really kind of grew up and evolved at the Cowboy. And he still plays there once a year.”

In fact, Williams’ annual White Trash Bash is set for April 6 in Laramie at the Cowboy.

Williams may have started small with a college band in little Laramie, Wyoming, but these days he’s a rising star in the country music world with hits like “The World Needs More Cowboys” and “A Cowboy Who Would.”

Williams doesn’t just sing about the cowboy lifestyle. He’s lived it. He grew up on a ranch in Moorcroft in northeastern Wyoming, and his rodeo talent was one of the things that helped take him to college.

Williams is one of the few country music artists who can say they have not only played music at Cheyenne Frontier Days, but competed in its famous rodeo, too.

In a recent interview with Cowboy State Daily, Williams talked about how meaningful all of his early Wyoming experiences are to him.

And it was in Wyoming where Williams had the chance to sing the late Toby Keith’s signature song, “Should’ve Been A Cowboy” on the Cheyenne Frontier Days stage with none other than Keith himself.

That was an unforgettable moment for Williams.

“You know, there’s only a few superstars, and Toby was one of them,” Williams told Cowboy State Daily. “And for an artist like that to let, you know, a kid from Wyoming sing his No. 1 song, his biggest song — not a lot of artists would do that.”

  • The Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall is famous for its live music.
    The Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall is famous for its live music. (Courtesy Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall)
  • The bar at the Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall in Laramie, Wyoming.
    The bar at the Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall in Laramie, Wyoming. (Courtesy Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall)
  • The Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall is a popular venue for weddings in Laramie.
    The Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall is a popular venue for weddings in Laramie. (Courtesy Visitlaramie.org)
  • A barback gets ready for one of the Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall's famous Wednesday college country nights.
    A barback gets ready for one of the Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall's famous Wednesday college country nights. (Courtesy Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall)
  • The Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall is famous for its live music.
    The Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall is famous for its live music. (Courtesy Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall)
  • Bottles of Just Ledoux It whiskey on the edge of the stage at the Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall.
    Bottles of Just Ledoux It whiskey on the edge of the stage at the Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall. (Courtesy Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall)

Still An ‘It’ Place With Lots Of History

The Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall is still one of the “it” places to be for those who like the nightlife in Laramie, Shelley and Jerry told Cowboy State Daily.

It has one of the only dance floors for country music swing dance for miles around the Laramie area.

And Williams still plays the venue that gave him a start, along with other nationally known acts.

“We had Laney Wilson last year, and we’ve had the Turnpike Troubadours, we’ve had Dierks Bentley — we’ve had a lot of big names,” Mary Hopkins told Cowboy State Daily. “They catch us before they get big.”

Mary and her husband Gary became part of the Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall in the late 1990s.

Among the improvements they made were a low-drop ceiling, which revealed the original steel girders from when the saloon was the Buick Garage, as well as bringing in a historic Brunswick backbar from the Wyoming Bar in Rawlins.

“Gary did that maybe five years ago before COVID, and he bought that bar because they had condemned the Wyoming Bar,” Mary said.

It’s a beautiful mahogany piece that comes with so much history, Mary added, and that will stay with the bar. There’s also the Tipple Bar that hails from the late ’70s, early ’80s. It came from a restaurant in Laramie.

The dance hall itself also has a full basement, which is where people used to bring their cars for oil changes. There used to be open wells for that purpose, but those have since been closed up.

The dance hall was two buildings. The dance hall side was the Buick Garage, while the other was called Gene’s Liquor and Package. It was built in the late 1930s.

The two buildings became one during the 1970s disco era. That, like disco, didn’t last and the bar changed hands a few times before the late Marian Griffin bought it in 1985. She’s the one who turned it into the Cowboy Saloon & Dance Hall.

“Marian did all the mirrors on the walls, and she had everything covered in red carpet,” Mary said. “That’s all gone now. But Marion owned all kinds of commercial buildings downtown and she was always such a force of nature.”

Shelley said either bar, the Buckhorn or the Cowboy, would be a great catch for the right investor.

“The Cowboy Saloon is just such an icon of Laramie,” she said. “They book quite a few good gigs there and it’s a great place for country swing dancing. It gets really busy, especially after games.”

Renée Jean can be reached at Renee@CowboyStateDaily.com.

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RJ

Renée Jean

Business and Tourism Reporter