Buffalo Bill was Here

Cody Travel Blog

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Entrance to the Museum

Today we would be doing some sightseeing. We planned to go see the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. I didn’t know a lot about it, but I expected to learn a lot about William Fredrick Cody. But first, there was breakfast.


I’m not a breakfast person. In 1995 I was working a swing shift. That meant breakfast for me was around noon. Margo always made sure the girls had something to eat, but during the week, it was usually something fairly quick. Hot or cold cereal or Pop-tarts were the headliners. Margo worked a traditional shift, so morning were always hectic.

Front side of our brochure
On the weekends, something more traditional could be found. But Aunt Helen was definitely old school. We got up to the smell of bacon and french toast. For the french toast there was syrup, butter, and homemade Raspberry preserves. After one bite, I swore off of grape jelly forever. The french toast was good, but adding the preserves was heaven. And I don’t particular like french toast. Its ok, but not my first choice. Today, I went back for seconds and thirds, much to her delight.


We finished off with breakfast took our showers and got ready. Margo’s young cousin, Julie (Aunt Helen’s daughter) dropped by to visit and we did for a little while. Julie had brought her daughter, Shantel with her. As Shantel was just a few months older than Jessi, we figured we could take her with us while Julie and Aunt Helen ran errands and such. So we all loaded up and headed over to the Museum.


We got there, and right our front to greet us was a larger than life statue of Buffalo Bill, himself.

Back side
The whole town of Cody owes its existence to Buffalo Bill. Buffalo Bill had been through the area back in the 1870s as a scout and was deeply impressed by the beauty and potential for development. Buffalo Bill was a businessman after all. His Wild West shows were not an altruistic endeavor. When had both more means, and others interested in the project he came back to Shoshone River Valley and in 1895 the town of Cody was established.


Buffalo Bill Cody was a very famous person by 1895 and had very powerful friends, which included Theodore Roosevelt. Cody used his influence to get a railroad spur built into Cody, the Buffalo Bill Dam built, and the Shoshone National Forest designated as such. All of these helped to make Cody an important city in the state of Wyoming.  In short, Buffalo Bill looms large in this small town.

Jolene, Shantel, and Jessi in a buffalo robe


We entered the museum, which is really five museums in one, and went about wandering. As expected I did learn a lot (most of which promptly forgotten) about Buffalo Bill. But, what he did to popularize the west is his legacy. And with this Historical Center he would be doing that long after his death. Speaking of which, Cody wished to be buried in the mountains overlooking Cody. However he died in Denver, CO (my home) in 1917. The City of Denver promptly recognized the tourism potential of having the legendary Buffalo Bill buried in Denver. So they just as promptly buried him on top of Look Out Mountain, and poured a few tons of cement over the grave to make sure he stayed put, despite what he might have wanted.

Margo in the buffalo robe. (Antlers were accidental)
He remains there to this day, and Yes I have spent my tourist dollars there. The official biography on the BBHC’s website does not mention the dispute. They are most forgiving.

We finished with the Buffalo Bill portion of the Museum and moved on the Cody Firearms Museum. I have seen more than a few firearms collections, including one from Colt Firearms in Hartford, CT. This is the most extensive collection I have ever scene. I am not an expert, and do not appreciate the finer points, but they had everything. Every firearms manufacturer I had ever heard of, plus many (including European) that I had not. Revolvers, derringers, rifles, shotguns, all manner of sub categories, and unusual types. My only regret was not taking pictures. I can’t for the life of me remember why.


Next up was the Whitney Gallery of Western Art. I have not been to the University of Wyoming Art Museum in Laramie, WY. I believe that is the biggest in the state. But, it would have to go some to exceed the examples of Western Art here in Cody. Only the Denver Art Museum and the art at The Oklahoma Cowboy and Western History Museum is on par with what I saw at the Whitney Gallery. Russell, Remington, Jackson, and so many others I never heard of were represented there. Again, I’m not expert, but if you are, you won’t be disappointed by what I saw at BBHC.


We toured the other two museums; The Plains Indian Museum and The Draper Natural History Museum. I don’t remember a great deal about either. I do remember that the Plains Indian Museum was well done and interesting.


I don’t recall exactly where in the museums, likely in the Buffalo Bill Museum, there was a hands on exhibit. This exhibit let you try on an actual buffalo coat. That is a coat made of buffalo hide. The girls including Margo tried it on and we got a few pictures of that.


We had chewed up quite a few hours and that coupled with our late start had taken us to closing time. We were all pretty tired and decided to head back to Aunt Helen’s for dinner. We got home and she fed us another scrumptious home cooked meal. It was going to be tough to eat on the road after this. We spent the evening with me going over some family history with her. I had been doing work on Margo’s side of the family and had brought copies of census records and other such information. She was interested and was able to add a bit to her family knowledge. She in turned gave me a lot of the vital information on her side of the family. That would come in handy when I got around to writing the family narrative on Margo’s side of the family. Little did I know that was still more than a decade to come. Then it was time for bed. More sightseeing tomorrow.

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Entrance to the Museum
Entrance to the Museum
Front side of our brochure
Front side of our brochure
Back side
Back side
Jolene, Shantel, and Jessi in a bu…
Jolene, Shantel, and Jessi in a b…
Margo in the buffalo robe. (Antler…
Margo in the buffalo robe. (Antle…
photo by: DaveSwede