It’s a history that survives, in part, through oral storytelling. Over the years, many of those stories have been shared over a beer at bars and saloons across the state.
Some of those bars still stand, historical artifacts in themselves. But at least as important are the characters that inhabit them — the bartenders, owners, talents and patrons. They help keep the stories alive. Take a seat at these historic watering holes across the state.
The Mint Bar, Sheridan
It’s not easy to make it onto the wall of photos that decorate The Mint Bar
. Monty Buckmaster has owned the place with his brother for 30 years, and his photo is still missing. But Charlotte “Charlie” Bergstrom earned her place. For decades, she was everyone’s favorite bartender. A good bartender is as good a listener as they are a storyteller, Buckmaster says. Charlie was an expert at both. Patrons of The Mint could trust her with any story they had to unload or sit back and listen as she spun a tale of the celebrities that sat in front of her.
The Mint has been Sheridan’s watering hole since 1907. You won’t find Charlie there anymore, but you’ll likely find old Wyoming ranchers seated next to celebrities like Robert Tayler, aka “Walt Longmire
.” The bar is no stranger to celebrity guests, but it has never lost its Western character. “See ya at The Mint.”
The Irma, Cody
The legendary Buffalo Bill himself founded this bar and hotel in 1902. One of Wyoming’s most famous and foundational characters, William “Bill” F. Cody helped found the city bearing his name in 1895. Just as the town was named after Bill, The Irma is named after his youngest daughter. The hotel is on the National Register of Historic Places; the original cherry wood bar, which was a gift to Buffalo Bill from England’s Queen Victoria, is renowned around the world.
Today, The Irma’s Silver Saddle Saloon holds tight to Buffalo Bill’s character — western, but high-class. Patrons can sit on the very porch where Bill and Irma used to sit and enjoy some of the finest dining in the west, just as Buffalo Bill wanted.
The Stagecoach Bar, Wilson
Just five miles outside Jackson Hole at the base of Teton Pass, the Stagecoach Bar has been a local favorite watering hole since 1942. Every Sunday night, locals and visitors alike crowd the small bar for “church” — live music from The Stagecoach Band, which includes 87-year-old Bill Briggs.
Briggs was the first man to ski the Grand Teton in 1971. He’s considered the “father of extreme skiing,” but his talents don’t stop at snow sports. The devoted musician founded The Stagecoach Band with the late Ron Scott 50 years ago. His band mates’ faces have changed over the years, but Briggs still shows up to nearly every Sunday “church” to give patrons something to swing to.