The Wigwam Musem has a large reputation to live up to. As the headquarters of the Paso Del Norte Paranormal Society, it showcases the Sun City’s finest paranormal research. It comes easy when your headquarters are a former brothel and saloon.
The Wigwam Saloon was partially owned by deadly gunman and outlaw John Wesley Hardin, the most notorious killer in Texas. His dangerous lifestyle and high body count eventually led him to his demise when he was assassinated just a block from his watering hole.
Perhaps it’s his boots that employees and guests hear clacking against the old wooden floors. Then, there is Lilly, a former lady of the night who haunts the basement in a perpetual state of unrest. They are two among the many phantom apparitions seen and heard in the old bar and gambling hall.
The spirits of the Wigam Musem provide a fantastic backdrop for the Paso Del Norte Paranormal Society to do their research. We followed suit and are providing you with all the info you need about this historic building before your next visit.
Keep reading to understand what makes El Paso the most haunted city in West Texas!
Colonel Robert F. Campbell’s vision of a two-story dance hall, restaurant, and saloon came to fruition when he purchased two plots of land for the low price of $50. The Fashion Saloon was El Paso’s premier saloon and restaurant when it opened in 1881.
The second floor operated as a vaudeville and dancehall while people dined, drank, and gambled on the first floor. El Pasoans were drawn to the saloon like moths to a flame. The Fashion Saloon not only provided great entertainment but was also electrified! The first saloon in EL Paso to utilize this modern amenity.
The dance hall closed in 1883, and the second floor became offices. A fire broke out in the building shortly after that gutted both stories. While no deaths have been recorded, it is not unfathomable to think it has something to do with the high paranormal activity.
In 1885, after a quick rehabilitation, the Fashion Saloon was back in operation, but it had changed hands. It was reborn as the Wigwam Saloon, a name that would stick over the next century. In 1907, it became a motion picture house known as The Wigam Theatre.
In 1912, the building was demolished and replaced with the modern and fireproof Wigwam Theatre. The Theatre came complete with a pool, billiards, and a bowling alley in the basement. It would be renamed again in 1940 when it became the State Theatre, before closing in 1981.
A fire ravaged the building in 2011 while it was being used as a storage unit and shortly after the Paso Del Norte Paranormal Society moved in.
The Wigwam’s most famous owner was John Wesley Hardin, albeit for only a month. The deadly pistoleer shared ownership of the building briefly in 1895.
Hardin was a virulently violent man who was released from jail in 1894. His anti-Union, black, and establishment beliefs led him to lead a life of gunslinging, gambling, and hard-drinking, eventually leading him to 25 years in federal prison.
Although he tried to live a peaceful life in El Paso, not before abandoning his second wife, his troubles caught up to him in true Wild West fashion.
John Henry Selman, a bouncer and local thief, had quarrels with Hardin and decided to end things the easy way. He shot Hardin in the back of the head while he was waiting for a drink at the Acme Saloon, just one block away.
Selman was killed in the alley right next to the Wigwam while awaiting retrial. Talk about endless violence! It’s no wonder the Wigwam, and the rest of El Paso for that matter, is so haunted.
The Paso Del Norte Paranormal Society certainly has its hands full, occupying such a haunted building. It’s said the activity is nearly constant, but the basement is the most active area.
Lights flicker down there, and the specialized equipment the society uses often turns off on its own or experiences strange glitches.
The spirit of Lily is most commonly seen in the once lively basement. She is believed to be a former “special employee” of the brothel and appears as a faint apparition and orb to the crew. She even smacked a phone out of the hands of an employee one eerie night.
The most commonly reported paranormal experience is the sound of footsteps walking against the old wooden floors. One member of the society was in a room with a co-worker when she heard the sound of someone walking across the floor. She turned around to ask her colleague, who was sitting in a chair, if he had moved at all.
“No,” he answered with a pale face; the footsteps then walked out of the room.
If you’re searching for haunted history and dangerous spirits from the days of the Old West, then El Paso may be the place for you. It is home to some of the most haunted locations in West Texas.
The Wigwam Museum is only the tip of the iceberg, and a large one at that! There is much to learn about haunted El Paso; be sure to continue reading our blog to take it all in.
If you’re brave enough, really brave enough, then take a ghost tour with US Ghost Adventures on your next visit. Our experienced tour guides will break down all of the spookiest stories for you and leave you wanting more!