Have the Fright of Your Life at a REAL Haunted House in Wyoming
Wyoming's oldest and largest haunted house returns annually to 17th Street in Cheyenne. The unassuming building at 312 E. 17th St. lies on a relatively quiet street in the city's Downtown district, its turquoise-colored exterior belying a calm and welcoming ambiance. And while the doors of this antique building are open and welcoming to guests during October, calm is the last thing you'll experience within its walls.
Prepare yourself for a night of adrenaline-fueled fright, courtesy of the Knights of Pythias, and...wait for it...real ghosts?
Nightmare on 17th Street Returns to Cheyenne for a Frightfully Fun Time.
Now, I'll get to the real ghosts here in a minute. First, let's talk about the longest-running Halloween Haunted House in the Cowboy State. 2023 marks the 34th year of the Knights of Pythias' Nightmare on 17th Street attraction - with each year's haunted happenings growing larger (and scarier.)
The annual endeavor to turn one of the oldest buildings in Cheyenne into a delightful devilish haunted house takes at least five months. This year, Brian Hartwig, the ringmaster of this year's event, warns that there are a few new rooms he's particularly proud of (read: the rooms are terrifically terrifying.) It's a memorable experience sure to inspire nightmares and heart-pounding thrills - as any good haunted house will do.
One might ask, why do the Knights of Pythias put on a haunted house in the first place? The answer, explains Brian, is twofold. First, it's just plain fun. Second, a vast majority of the funds gathered from the event go to supporting local charities (a small amount of funds from the event go to helping the Knights manage the property tax of their historic building as well.) Previous donations have gone to organizations like the Boys & Girls Club of Cheyenne, the Muley Fanatic Foundation, and the COMEA shelter.
Is the Knights of Pythias Building Truly Haunted?
Do spirits stalk the halls of the Knights of Pythias building? As far as Brian, several staff members and teams of paranormal investigators are concerned, the answer is a resounding yes.
It's not hard to picture ghosts gathering in the building once you know its history. 312 E. 17th St. has, in the past, served as a legislative building while the State Capitol was constructed in 1865. But primarily, the building has served as the meeting place for the Fraternal Order of the Knights of Pythias - the first and oldest Fraternal Order founded and chartered in the United States.
As with most Fraternal Orders, an air of secretivity surrounds them. Like many Fraternal Orders (i.e., the Scottish Rite, Odd Fellows, and the Ancient Order of Hibernians), the Knights of Pythias have welcomed influential people into their ranks - men who played significant roles in state and national history. Legends from Wyoming's past have walked its halls - Black Jack Pershing, F.E. Warren, and members of the Whipple family - names that are practically royalty in Cheyenne's history.
According to Mr. Hartwig, several paranormal investigators have confirmed the presence of entities in the building. Brian has himself experienced paranormal activity, hearing footsteps in an otherwise empty building, feeling eyes on his back, and catching glimpses of things out of the corner of his eyes.
He, like several investigators and lodge visitors, has seen the pale shadow of a young woman lurking on the first floor or flitting through the basement. Is she, perhaps, a daughter of a former member? Brian explained that the club would host family dinners and entertainment for members in its earlier days. Has she been unable to leave the dinner party scene after all these years?
Seeing the young woman may be a fright, but her presence is benign and pales in comparison to the shadow haunting the building. Brian has seen a looming shadow, thought to be a man, whose ominous presence is chilling at best.
These are only two of the building's ghosts, but Brian assures me that it's estimated at least a dozen spirits call the Knights of Pythias' domain home.
Why is this building haunted? Perhaps it is because a coffin, its human remains intact, was discovered beneath one of the stages in the Knights' lodge. Maybe it is the spirits of members of the order unable to move on from this place?
Answers remain elusive, but one thing is sure - having real ghosts around makes the Knights of Pythias' Nightmare on 17th Street one of the most realistic haunted houses you'll ever visit.
Find more information on visiting Nightmare on 17th Street by clicking here. Visit soon - the haunted house stops running on November 1.
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Gallery Credit: Brit McGinnis