Eerie Encore: Ghostly Tales of Wyoming’s Haunted Atlas Theatre
The show must go on at Wyoming's Atlas Theatre...and for some unlucky souls, the show will never end. They say ghosts of performers' past haunt the halls, unable to let the curtains close on their earthly existence.
Phantoms of the Stage: The Ghosts of Cheyenne's Atlas Theatre
Few buildings in Wyoming evoke the timeless beauty and grace of the state's golden years than the Atlas Theatre. A remnant of the bygone Gilded Age, the building housing the Atlas has a long and eclectic past. Within its pastel-painted walls once stood a tea shop and confectionery, an office building, a penny arcade, and the once-famous Strand Hotel.
It wasn't until 1907 that the building at 211 West Lincolnway settled into its role as Wyoming's premier theatre. The well-to-do of Cheyenne's illustrious days as 'Paris of the West' visited the Atlas for a night of vaudeville entertainment and risque burlesque. Drama and intrigue spanned far beyond the stage of the building, and for some cast members and guests, the curtains never closed on their show.
Take, for example, the ghostly apparitions of star-crossed lovers doomed to replay murder and despair for eternity. The story goes that the man became overcome by his role as a villain in the theatre's current production, and enthralled by the power of his imagination, he became "overcome with jealousy."
As Jill Pope tells it in 'Haunted Cheyenne', the man fell into "a horrific rage, taking aim at his betrothed, the heroine [of the play]" (Pope 70-71) and fired a shot at the actress. The woman died from a bullet to the heart. The man was later found dangling from a noose. These spirits appear at the places of their demise: the woman, a beautiful vision in white, prone to strolling the theatre, the villain lurking in the shadows of the stage.
Whispers of other spirits dwelling at the Atlas continue to this day. 'Haunted Cheyenne' notes that at least seven spirits are bound to the theatre. Paranormal researchers have sought out these ghosts, seeking answers from the Beyond. Members of PHOG recorded horrific screams during its 2012 investigation of the theatre. A ghost named "Mitchell" responded to the groups' inquiries - a blue spirit orb appeared during the ordeal.
Not all spirits of the Atlas are prone to malicious acts or cruel jokes. Sometimes, old music will fill the halls with no apparent source. Occasionally, objects will move from one room in the theatre to another. The theatre's "Blue Girl" ghost. Those who encounter this benign presence will suddenly smell the sweet fragrance of flowers when she appears. The white lady will appear on occasion, causing no harm to those lucky enough to catch a glimpse of her.
Before the Curtains Rose: The Ghosts of Frankie and Gussie
Before the building that is now called the Atlas stood at 211 West Lincolnway, there was the music store FE Warren & Gaylord and the LR Bresnahen meat market, above which were boarding houses. The buildings, built in the late 1800s, burned to the ground in a terrible fire. Out of the rubble, all victims were accounted for, the most harrowing of which were two children - Frankie and Gussie. The Daily Leader Newspaper's mourning of the fire's victims resonates even now, "Words are powerless to properly speak of the sadness of the scene or the agony of the frenzied mother. On such an occasion, silence only, is holy." (Pope 66-69)
Reports of a young boy playing with a red ball in the theatre continue to this day - but it is unknown if the spirit is that of Frankie or Gussie.
Tour the Haunted Atlas Theatre
Those seeking a brush with forces from beyond the veil can do so at the Atlas Theatre. The institution offers haunted tours during October and occasionally throughout the year. Find out more info on the Atlas Theatre here.
Thank you to Visit Cheyenne's Frightseeing Tours for additional info on the Atlas Theatre hauntings.
Citations: Pope, J. (2013). Haunted cheyenne. The History Press.
Nightmare on Arapaho Street
Gallery Credit: Phylicia Peterson, Townsquare Media Laramie/Cheyenne