Begun in the 1870s along the Santa Fe Trail by a chef who had served President Abraham Lincoln, the St. James Hotel is an historic landmark in Cimarron in remote, scenic northeastern New Mexico. The hotel was known as the best between Missouri and California, famed for its superb accommodations, fine food, good gambling, and a thriving saloon.

Many legends of the Old West stayed here, their room tokens and photographs on display. Twenty-six customers were killed in the saloon over the years, and hundreds of bullets were fired by rowdy patrons into the saloon's tin ceiling. Many believe the hotel is haunted; ghost investigators are frequent visitors.

Today the St. James Hotel is much like it was more than a century ago. Its guest rooms are lavishly furnished with antiques, the restaurant offers good food, and the saloon is filled with locals and visitors. Though the hotel no longer offers gambling, the original gambling table laden with gamblers' paraphernalia is on display.

Walk out the front doors of the hotel and see a huge old mill, stage stops, the old courthouse and jail, and the small town's cemetery -- usually with sightings of deer and turkey.

This is what's left of the real Old West.

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