Smith Mansion.

Smith Mansion - Towering Log House

Field review by the editors.

Wapiti, Wyoming

Smith Mansion juts up from a slope along the North Fork Highway, midway between Cody and Yellowstone National Park. From a distance it resembles a pile of discarded logs and lumber, coaxed into an intricate fantasy palace. The 5-story, 77-ft. tall rustic structure was hand-built -- without blueprints -- by the late (Francis) Lee Smith. Lee was born in Cody and worked as an engineer at a local firm. Smith Mansion was his side project for 22 years, and he spent every spare moment working on it. It started as a future home for his family, and along the way morphed into a tangle of rooms, balconies, and staircases. Lee hauled logs from Rattlesnake Mountain, north of Wapiti, by pickup truck and by horse.

In April 1992, while toiling alone on a balcony, 48-year old Smith was hit by falling lumber, and fell. His body was discovered two days later. Since then, the Mansion has been empty, seemingly abandoned. Trespassing is prohibited, but weather and vandalism have taken a toll.

We happened to drive by on a recent summer weekend, and could see a large tour group on one of the upper levels, doing a walk-through/climb-up. Summer tours are scheduled in advance at the Smith Mansion website. Sunny Larsen, Smith's daughter, continues to raise funds to restore the Smith Mansion and to preserve the legacy of her eccentric-genius architect father.

Smith Mansion - Towering Log House

Smith Mansion

Address:
2902 N. Fork Hwy, Wapiti, WY
Directions:
South side of US Hwy 20/N. Fork Hwy, either 23 miles west of downtown Cody, or 1.5 miles east of the Shoshone National Forest entrance sign. No trespassing.
Hours:
Private property, visible from the road. (Call to verify)
Phone:
406-647-6048
Admission:
Scheduled tours.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Lonely Big Boy StatueLonely Big Boy Statue, Wapiti, WY - 5 mi.
Sleep in a Wagon, See Animal TricksSleep in a Wagon, See Animal Tricks, Cody, WY - 20 mi.
Statue and Grave of Liver-Eating JohnsonStatue and Grave of Liver-Eating Johnson, Cody, WY - 20 mi.
In the region:
Pig Races on Pig Track at Saloon, Bearcreek, MT - 51 mi.

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November 25, 2017

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