I love the American West and all that it stands for.
That’s why, when the famous UU Bar in Cimarron, New Mexico was offered for sale, I also sought the opportunity to purchase and refurbish the nearby historic St. James Hotel. The hotel was first built in 1872, on the recommendation of U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant.
The St. James has a rich history. Its builder was Henri (later Henry) Lambert who served as a personal chef to President Abraham Lincoln. Upon finding a little gold in the ‘Go West’ movement and enticed by Lucien B. Maxwell of the huge Maxwell Land Grant, Lambert founded the Lambert Inn, which would later be renamed the St. James Hotel.
The St. James had a notable reputation in its day and was visited by many famous lawmen and notorious outlaws. It was also the scene of many murders. A favorite saying in the area became "It appears Lambert had himself another man for breakfast," and the usual question around Cimarron was "Who was killed at Lambert's last night?"
You can tell from the Guest Books that the James was visited by Wyatt Earp and his brother Morgan on their way to Tombstone, Arizona. Jesse James always stayed in Room 14. Buffalo Bill Cody stayed at the Inn as he took an entire village of Native Americans living nearby on the road with his famed western show. Another entertainer, Annie Oakley, frequently stayed at the inn.
The outlaw Davy Crockett, a descendant of the adventurer and Congressman Davy Crockett, killed three Buffalo Soldiers inside the hotel's bar room in 1876. Notably, barracks once occupied by Buffalo Soldiers still stand along the Santa Fe train tracks and on the UU Bar Ranch property (feel free to stop by and peek in on the road to the Main Lodge).
When the railroad came through and effectively killed the cattle drives which heavily relied on the Santa Fe trail, the St. James fell into disrepair. And between 1926–1985, the hotel passed between many owners. When I purchased the James in 2009, I committed to restore the facility and campus to its former glory and at the same time help make known the Western history and legendary stories of the hotel.
Today, the St. James and its General Manager Teri Caid offer beautiful rooms, culinary experiences and Western hospitality to history enthusiasts, locals, travelers, ‘Ghost Chasers’ and families on their way to the New Mexico and Colorado ski slopes. Caid even has a complimentary, short film curated in the front lobby so that guests can appreciate how the James fits into the United States’ history.
St. James guests can experience the authenticity of the hotel’s storied past by counting the 20+ bullet holes in the inn’s ceiling. A double layer of hard wood in the ceiling protected anyone sleeping upstairs from being killed from the random barroom brawls and notorious Western gun fights.
Caid, the St. James staff and I personally invite you to see the extensive renovations made to St. James in Cimarron, which includes a formal dining room and bar merged into one large area, an expanded patio and a walled-in courtyard. We promise you will enjoy this historic hotel, its authentically Western menu, friendly smiles and real stories of the American West.