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Sheridan Erects Sculpture Of Hot Tamale Louie

Dana Arbaugh

Zarif Khan, also known as Hot Tamale Louie. The idea for the sculpture came from Dana Arbaugh whose wife remembers buying hamburgers from him for 25 cents. Her father was friends with Khan. Dana Arbaugh commissioned the sculpture and said Khan’s story embodies the American dream.

“Everybody in Sheridan just loved his homemade hamburgers,” said Arbaugh. “He worked with some local ranchers to get some special beef and he also added some of his spices from his homeland.”

Arbaugh came up with the idea for a sculpture after reading an article in the New Yorker called “Citizen Khan” about Tamale Louie’s life in Sheridan.

“You know, [it was] the quintessential American ideal,” said Arbaugh, “where you come to this country pretty much with nothing and through your own diligence and hard work and perseverance, you build up a business, and it’s successful and you start a family. I believe he had six children.”

Khan was stabbed to death on a visit home to Pakistan in 1964. But Arbaugh said Khan’s large family continues to thrive in the state, opening several hotels in Gillette and building a mosque there. Many of his descendants attended the unveiling of the sculpture last month.

The sculpture was designed by artist Jerry Smiley.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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