The Wonder Bar is Casper’s most legendary boozy downtown institution. It’s also perhaps the most haunted…if you’re into that kind of thing.
Two current employees at the newly remodeled C85 Wonder Bar aren’t scared of no ghosts.
Bar manager Kellan Hawley and general manager Michelle Speiser describe themselves as “nonbelievers,” but they do enjoy the tales of ghostly sightings inside the antique walls.
While Hawley has never seen any of the spooky spirits himself, he’s heard the stories. “There was one about a ghost in a white dress I remember,” said Hawley, who worked at the old Wonder Bar before its latest and glitziest renovation. “I heard one about a little kid running up and down the halls. A friend of mine’s daughter swears she can see it and wants to play with it,” said Hawley.
“The only weird thing that happens now-but I think it’s more electrical than ghosts-is our TVs like to turn on and off sometimes,” said Speiser. “They’ll turn off for five minutes then all the sudden they pop back on.”
Hawley says some of the contractors working on the building’s recent gut renovation would hear strange noises, only to find nothing when they went looking.
Some coworkers take the stories more seriously. One manager keeps a Ouija Board in the basement.
Lisa Lauderdale of the Paranormal Research Society of Casper has documented a number of mysterious movements from workers and patrons of the bar over the years. Ghostly encounters include numerous employees feeling “pushed” by unseen forces, footsteps upstairs when the building is empty, eerie orange and yellow glowing, and glasses falling off the bar. One bar tender saw a white “misty thing” and ran.
If ghosts do exist, the Wonder Bar’s long history has given it plenty of chances to become their haunt of choice. The building dates back to 1914, when Casper was booming and temporary wood buildings were rapidly being replaced by sturdy brick structures. Center Street was eventually lined with saloons and pool halls.
The Wonder Bar was originally on Second Street and moved to the S. Center location in 1937. The bar was renamed Rock Bottom by new owners in 1988, according to a Casper Star-Tribune newspaper clipping of that era. According to the article, the name change was necessary due to the numerous shootings and stabbings that tarnished the Wonder Bar brand. “Rock Bottom” seems unintentionally fitting as both the bar and Casper’s fortunes went into decline.
In the following years, a number of businesses under names like Tommyknockers, Cattlemen’s and Bootleggers came and went before the “World Famous” Wonder Bar was rechristened in 2003. Numerous remodels over the years left little of the bar’s original features and details. It was sold in 2016 and was given a complete gut renovation before reopening this August.
“I still don’t like being here by myself,” admits Hawley, although the creep factor is much reduced since the remodel.
“I don’t mind it,” says Speiser on being the last one out at night. “There still are a lot of noises though when I’m like ‘huh, that’s weird’.”