The year is 1891. A man has arrived in Europe, bearing with him $200,000 of stolen money. His name is David D. Dare, once a member of Cheyenne, Wyoming's upper echelon of society, now on the run from the authorities. Dare's fall was swift, a domino effect of bad luck and illegal actions that sent him tumbling from the good graces of society. But not too long before his escape to Europe, he was practically a king in Wyoming's capital city, holding his court in the illustrious Castle Dare.

Cheyenne's Forgotten Castle: A Story of Scandal and Disgrace

Castle Dare no longer exists in Cheyenne. Its remnants reside in an unlikely place—the remains of its sandstone walls are a fence surrounding the playground at Holliday Park. But back in its heyday, Castle Dare was one of Cheyenne's most famous landmarks on the famed 'Millionaire's Row.'

Today, Millionaire's Row sits on what is now Carey Avenue. Back in the 1800s, Carey was known as Ferguson Street. It is along Ferguson Street that Cheyenne's well-to-do built their Victorian mansions and Gothic estates, creating an exclusive neighborhood within which many of the historic houses still stand.

Photo of Castle Dare in 1908. Credit: Joseph Stimson via Wyoming State Archives
Photo of Castle Dare in 1908.
Credit: Joseph Stimson via Wyoming State Archives

In the 1880s, Cattle Baron Alexander H. Swan began construction on what would become Castle Dare as a wedding gift for his daughter Louise. Swan's ranching empire held over 100,000 heads of cattle in Chugwater, making him one of Cheyenne's wealthier least until his empire toppled after a dramatic loss of cattle and debts. In the wake of his loss,  Swan sold the still-under-construction castle to David D. Dare for the hefty price tag of $30,000 - about $986,311 in today's world. (

Dare was quick to finish construction on the castle, creating one of Cheyenne's most lavish homes. The castle bore golden door knobs and mahogany ceilings, hand-painted decor, and marble fixtures. It was especially well-known for its three bathrooms (Bill O. Neal) - quite the luxurious commodity in that era. It was well and truly a palace of the West.

Too soon, however, it would become synonymous with scandal as David D. Dare began a career of crime under the guise of The Cheyenne National Bank.

The Rise & Fall of David D. Dare

Dare was a man of many talents. His resume included postman, druggist, and hardware dealer. Before becoming a banking tycoon, Dare held the position of signmaker and photographer.

How does a photographer become a banking millionaire? Rumor has it a Ponzi scheme was the source of Dare's obscene wealth; however, little proof remains of such nefarious scheming. What is known is that Dare befriended a bank clerk by the name of John W. Collins, who helped his client obtain the funds necessary to finish his castle-like home.

It was alongside Mr. Collins that Dare opened the Cheyenne National Bank in the mid-1880s...with the help of 'undisclosed Eastern Funding' (rings of a Ponzi scheme, doesn't it?) The bank was a roaring success, but it wasn't enough for Dare or Collins. In 1887, they moved to San Francisco to open the California National Bank.

A Castle Dare Cousin in San Francisco

Interestingly, Dare built a second castle-like home on Fifth and Juniper in San Francisco. Newspapers reported it at the time as the most costly home in San Francisco. The three-story home became another symbol of Dare's growing wealth.

Dare Goes Bust in San Francisco

It was in San Francisco that Dare's bank schemes came tumbling down. In 1891, a $10,000 check failed to cash at the California National Bank. After hearing of the problem, San Diego mayor Matthew Sherman tried to pull $45,000 of city funds from the bank. It, too, could not be cashed. A bank examiner was called in and found  $200,000 missing. The bank closed. Not long after, the Cheyenne National Bank also closed its doors.

Coincidentally, Mr. Dare had left for Europe just before the bank examiner showed up, leaving Mr. Collins to take the blame. Collins was charged with embezzlement. Dare disappeared, rumoredly attempting to murder his wife by shoving her off their escape boat. He failed, with Mrs. Dare returning to the States and filing for divorce. David D. Dare was the subject of rumor for some time, reportedly living his days away in Egypt around 1900 until dying in Athens, Greece, in 1909.

The Legacy of Castle Dare

A photo of the Holliday Park playground with fence made from Castle Dare's walls. Credit: Phylicia Peterson, TSM SE Wyoming
A photo of the Holliday Park playground with a fence made from Castle Dare's walls.
Credit: Phylicia Peterson, TSM SE Wyoming

After Dare fled the country, Castle Dare played host to a funeral home, a boarding house, and an Odd Fellows Lodge until 1963, when the luxurious home - once the gem of Millionaire Row - was demolished to make way for a parking lot. Remnants of the home were used to build a fence around the castle-themed playground at Holliday Park and remain there today.


Ammon, R. T. (2011a). Walking Tour of Cheyenne. Visit Cheyenne. 2024, chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/

Crawford, R. (2008). Suspension of bank shook 1890s San Diego. San Diego Union Tribune. chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/

Jaspersen, A. (2023, August 29). Cheyenne’s forgotten castle and villain. Visit Cheyenne.

n.a. (n.d.). Ferguson Avenue. Cheyenne photos--Early Houses--Wyoming Tales and trails.

n.a. (n.d.-b). Growth of Cheyenne, The Cheyenne Club, Millionaires’ Row, J. W. Collins and D. D. Dare. Cheyenne Photos IV-.

n.a. (n.d.-c). Inflation rate between 1887-2024: Inflation calculator. $30,000 in 1887 → 2024 | Inflation Calculator.

Smith, J. (2009). Unforgettable: Dr. Jekyll and mr. Dare part I. San Diego Reader.

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