Backstory: A horse walks into a joke - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Backstory: A horse walks into a bar…no joke

“Parade day, 1943”. This iconic photo shows riders on horses parking at the bar inside the Wonder Bar. (Western History Center, Casper College)

Tales of dusty cowpokes bellying up to the bar while riding their faithful horse is a well worn trope in Casper.

There are indeed photos of horses inside the old Wonder Bar, but they’re obviously staged for fun or promotional purposes.

The interior of the Robinson Saloon is seen in this undated photo, likely from the late 1800s. The saloon was located around 220 S. Center. It was later the location of Western Sporting Goods. (Casper College Western History Center)

Riding a horse into a crowded bar or saloon is obviously a terrible idea. They’re skittish and very large animals, and they urinate and poo everywhere all the time. It all just seems too impractical even for those pre-health code days.

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However, a brief article in a Feb. 17, 1927 issue of the Casper Daily Tribune seems to give some legitimacy to the old story.

Entitled “When Casper Was Young,” the clip gives a short and entertaining account of such an event.

“Harry Iba, a real Wyoming product, with a thousand head of cattle ranging the hills southeast of Casper, is always good for a story,” starts the article.

It continues:

“In the rollicking days of youth he punched cows for the C.Y. outfit, and one night in town he rode his horse right into the bar-room of Dan Robinson’s saloon. The horse went through the floor and landed in the cellar. Harry chucked all responsibility and quit the scene-muy pronto. ‘Are you going to pay for the damage?’ Dan shouted after him. ‘Heck, no. I can’t pay for getting the horse out let alone buy a saloon,’ replied the youth. Harry says they nearly wrecked the building in rescuing the horse.”

It’s hard to say of Mr. Iba was spinning a tall tale or if he actually did crash a horse through a saloon floor in his younger days. His story does add yet another reason why the smart cowboy should park his horse outside of the watering hole.

Robinson’s Saloon stood on the 200 block of S. Center. One photo of its interior does exist at the Casper College archives, which shows a rather fine looking establishment and no signs of ranch animals.

Western Sporting Goods occupied the spot for many years after that, and the area is now occupied by the community parking garage that was built in the early-80s.