Hemingway Highways explores the author’s time in the Bighorn Mountains and some other towns in the north-central part of the state, but Hemingway especially loved Sheridan. It often served as his home base when he was in the area.
Hemingway would stay at the Sheridan Inn between his forays to guest ranches in the Bighorn Mountains where he would hunt and fish. Hemingway’s original idea was to hole up at the inn to finish his World War I novel, A Farewell to Arms, but it turned out that Sheridan — a happening place for Wyoming in 1928 — had too many noises and distractions.
One of those distractions was just around the corner. Hemingway is said to have frequented the Mint Bar on North Main Street to drink and play poker. And remember that 1928 fell within the years of Prohibition. It’s almost impossible to imagine now, but alcohol was illegal nationwide. However, the Mint never closed during Prohibition’s 13 years. It rebranded as a soda and cigar shop and quietly served alcohol out of its backroom speakeasy.
When Hemingway wasn’t out drinking at the Mint Bar, he may have been down the street at Sheridan’s Lotus Theater — now the WYO theater — watching a movie or one of the vaudeville acts it was famous for. He could catch a film there and not be recognized or bothered by strangers as he might have been in a larger city. His first novel, The Sun Also Rises, had been published in 1926, and the young author was something of a celebrity. He was known to have taken breaks from his writing to see movies at the Lotus.
If the walls, streets (and bartenders’ ghosts) of this “cowboy town” near the Montana border could talk, they would tell tales of Hemingway.