The Winnedumah Hotel Bed and Breakfast in Independence is a cherished historic landmark that has long been used as a destination stop for visitors to the Eastern Sierra since its opening in 1927. It has been closed for the past five years due to severe rainstorms which, in December of 2010, pounded the towns in southern Inyo for two days, followed by freezing temperatures. The resulting weight of frozen ice and snow caused the hotel’s roof to collapse. The good news is: It is now open again for business!
According to several sources, the hotel was built in 1927 by Walter Dow of Burbank, Calif., to attract the movie crews of westerns being filmed nearby. The Winnedumah Hotel has hosted such stars as Roy Rogers, Gary Cooper, and Bing Crosby. Being the only hotel in the County Seat, it also served to house County Supervisors, Judges and State officials who in the old days had to travel long distances to get to Independence.
Dow would also go on to build the Dow Villa Hotel in Lone Pine to provide a place for movie crews filming in the Alabama Hills and other locales.
Owners Frank and Celia Montoya are very happy to once again welcome hotel guests after having to struggle with legal issues between the construction company and the insurance company that took five years and a lawsuit to resolve.
“We really missed the beauty of the mountains and the friendly community of Independence,” said Celia. With guests that often come from other countries, Frank said, “The experience of running a hotel, especially one with so much history, is that you meet some of the most interesting people. They often have some very interesting stories to share with the staff and other hotel guests.”
For the curious, the word Winnedumah is a Paiute Indian name that means “stand where you are,” although you might prefer to lie down instead at the hotel. It is believed that the hotel sits on sacred native ground and even a few ghost stories have been attributed to the location.
Rest assured, any “ghosts” would be of the friendly kind.
The hotel also hosts groups and conventions. Local residents in the County are also welcomed to stay at the hotel as well. Quite a few people in Inyo County have celebrated anniversaries and other special occasions by staying there. The Town of Independence hosts the Eastern California Museum and the Manzanar Historic Site is just down the road. There is also hiking, camping, and horseback riding close by in Onion Valley.
For more information, call (760) 878-2040 or visit their website at www.winndemuh.com.