The Occidental Saloon
In the rip-roaring days of early Wyoming, the saloon at the Occidental Hotel was famous far and wide. In the barroom, the lawful and the lawless played faro and poker... flirted with pretty ladies... drank copious quantities of powerful spirits... and occasionally shot up the place.
One visitor in the early days called the Occidental Saloon "a regular gambling hell," where high-stakes poker games sometimes continued for days.
In 1908, the original rough barroom was replaced with one of the most elegant saloons in Wyoming. An imposing back bar with stained glass accents was installed, along with an intricately embossed tin ceiling, and impressive period decorations everywhere. All of this has been preserved and restored, for you to admire today as you enjoy a soda pop... or something stronger.
When you mosey up to the 25-foot bar, you will be standing in the exact spot where cowboys, sheriffs, desperados and cattle barons gathered. You may almost hear them arguing and making deals. In your imagination, you might even hear shots ring out - and if you look around you and up at the ceiling, you can still count numerous original bullet holes!
Live Music and Entertainment at the Occidental Saloon
U P C O M I N G S H O W S
Thursday Night Jam Sessions
Every Thursday Night at 7 PM
The Famous Occidental Bluegrass Jam!
The Bittercreek Band
Every Friday and Saturday Night at 8 PM
The Occidental Saloon is a SMOKE-FREE Establishment.
"And he reached for his gun..."
The Night Frank Canton Was Almost Killed at the Occidental Bar
(Will Foster and Frank Canton were enemies. This is a true story of a fight between two men in the Occidental Saloon, as related by local historian Elmer Brock. It is quoted [with some changes to clarify some details} from the book "Powder River Country.")
"On Canton's return to Buffalo [after the Johnson County War], he was drinking very hard. He was drunk a lot.
"Shortly after Canton's arrival, Foster came to town and went in the Occidental Bar where Canton was. Canton spied him and asked him to take a drink.
"Foster said, 'No, I won't drink with you.'
"Canton said, 'Do you know that I followed you eighty miles in Oklahoma to kill you when you were down there?'
Foster said, 'Yes, I know that.'
"'Well,' Canton said, 'Do you know I came up here once to kill you?'
"And Foster said, 'Yes, I know that.
"'You poisoned my dog but you never got to me.'
"Canton said, 'No, I didn't then, but I'm going to kill you now!'
"And he reached for his gun.
"Well, with a man like Canton that didn't just mean perhaps.
"So Foster drew his gun, and being younger and quicker he got his six shooter out first.
"But instead of shooting Canton, he hit him over the head with the gun hit him so hard his gun flew right out of his hand.
"Now, instead of finishing drawing his own gun, Canton decided to kill Foster with Foster's own gun.
"But, when Canton stooped down to pick up the gun, Foster grabbed Canton and pushed him away.
"Then Foster picked up his gun and beat Canton until he imagined he had beaten him to death.
"Most everybody wanted Canton dead around Buffalo in those days.
"But Canton didn't die, although they said it took about 60 stitches to patch up his old head."
Frank Canton was sheriff of Johnson County between 1882 and 1886, and during those years he was popular with most people. He was admired for his coolness in dangerous situations, and respected for the even-handed way in which he enforced the law.
But after he retired from the sheriff's office, Canton went to work as a stock detective for the big cattlemen of the Wyoming Stock Grower's Association (WSGA) — a job that made him unpopular with many of the small ranchers who had once been his friends.
In 1892, when the WSGA sent 52 heavily-armed men into Johnson County with a list of 70 local men to kill, Canton was one of the commanders of the invading force. And from then on, he was widely hated in Johnson County.
For some years after that, Canton stayed away from Johnson County. When he did finally return, he quickly saw that it would not be "good for his health" to remain. So he left Wyoming and moved to Oklahoma, where he again became a lawman.
In Oklahoma, Canton had amazing luck. He was asked to act as the bodyguard of a man who was running for the governor's office - and when the man was elected, he appointed Canton as Adjutant General of the Oklahoma National Guard with the rank of Brigadier General. Once again, Frank Canton found himself admired and respected.