Museum Days & Rodeo Nights

Cody Travel Blog

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Grave of Belle Drewry, a female outlaw

This would be our last day in Cody. Our itinerary for the day was to visit the Old Trail Town, go to the Rodeo, and thank our hosts by taking them our for a steak dinner. We got up and started reasonably early. We had another great breakfast and made it to the Old Trail Town sometime during mid-morning.

 

The Old Trail Town is one man’s (Bob Edgar) attempt to rescue old western historical buildings from decay and destruction, and turn them into a museum quality old west town.

Graves of Bill Gallagher and "Blind" Bill Hollihan. They were both killed because fued over the affections of Belle Drewry
He started out with the Rivers Saloon, which used to be near Meeteetse (Muh-TEETS-see), Wyoming (We interrupt this story to tell another. On our way up to Cody a few short days ago, we came up on Meeteetse and saw a bull moose standing proud and as still as a statue in the middle of field. We all were talking about this a few miles later, when my six year old daughter, changed the subject from the Moose to the pronunciation of the town name. This was accomplished by lifting up her shirt and announcing “My tits, see! I was not amused. We now return to our regularly scheduled program.). This building was put up in the 1880s. It was taken apart and reassembled on the western edge of Cody.

 

That was the genesis of the town and it continued to grow. By the time we arrived it was a complete town with a one room schoolhouse, blacksmith, general store, carpenter’s shop and several historic buildings.

Old Trail Town Cemetery w/ Rattlesnake Mountain in the background
Those included a cabin used as a shelter for Butch Cassidy and the cabin built for Curley, General Custer’s Crow Indian scout that survived The Battle of the Little Big Horn. Each of the buildings was historical at least to the extent that they were actual 19th or very early 20th century buildings and had served a person or community. Each building had a sign telling of its pedigree. Most of the buildings were decorated with authentic western artifacts. It was obvious that a lot of work had gone into it, and there was still a lot to be done.

 

What town would be complete without a cemetery? Bob Edgar was able to relocate the graves of several westerners. The most prominent being the mountain man, Jeremiah Johnston. Johnston was made famous by the Robert Redford film, Jeremiah Johnson, which loosely told his story. That story told of Johnson seeking vengeance on the Crow Indians that killed his wife.

This pile of antlers has been there for about 25 years when we were there.
In reality, Johnston was known as “Crow Killer Johnston”, because of this. But, what the movie left out was that Johnston was more commonly known as “Liver Eating Johnston”. Legend (at least exaggerated, probably wrong) has it that when Johnston would kill a Crow, he would cut out his liver and eat it. Yummy.

 

Margo, me, and the kids made out tour of the town stopping at each building, taking in something from each. I really enjoyed the history, but Margo and the girls, not as much. Probably most of that is just because they didn’t have enough historic perspective to appreciate it. I was going to have to do a better job on that in the future.

 

We had lunch at a place called La Comita and headed back to Aunt Helen’s for the remainder of the afternoon.

Grave of Jeremiah Johnston
Once there we visited some, took a short walk around the hills around where Uncle Gary and Aunt Helen lived. They warned us to watch for rattlesnakes and to keep an eye out for arrowheads. As it turned out we saw neither.

 

We had an early dinner at The Cattlemen’s Cut, a local steakhouse. We wanted to thank Aunt Helen and Uncle Gary for their hospitality. I had to fight a bit with Uncle Gary for the check, but in the end (and with a little help from Aunt Helen) I paid the bill.

 

I was looking forward to our final Cody activity, Cody Nite Rodeo. Every night, from June 1st to August 31st, there is a rodeo at the Cody Stampede Arena. There may be other cities that do this, but if there are I haven’t heard of them.

My littlest bullrider, Jessi
A traditional rodeo is put on each night. This includes; bareback, saddle bronc, calf roping, bulldogging, barrel racing, and the main event, Bull Riding. Points are earned each night for top finishers and these points count towards the overall regional championship. While you won’t see any of the big name competitors, as this is an amateur rodeo. Many of those big names got their start and a lot of practice in Cody.

 

This sounded like a lot of fun. Margo and I had taken the kids to rodeos before. There is one every summer, just a few miles away from our house, during the Adams County Fair each year. So we knew they would enjoy it. Gates open at 7 PM and the rodeo starts at 8 PM. We got there in plenty of time, after dinner. We bought the premium seats so we could sit in “Buzzards Roost” directly above the Chutes. This was supposed to offer the best view, and we weren’t disappointed.

Jolene goes for eight seconds

 

But, the first thing we did was get a couple of pictures. They had an area set up where, for $6, you get on a taxidermized bull, against a rodeo arena backdrop, and take a photo that had you looking like you were going for the eight seconds yourself. Margo and the girls each got one. They were all cute, but only Margo looked like she was having a good time.

 

Once the events started you could tell that the talent was not top notch, as many failed to stay on for the required eight second time. But, it was still a lot of fun. No one got bored. About half way through the show, the announcer (who told some terrible jokes and kept up a running conversation with the Top Clown) called for all kids under 12, to come down to participate in the Calf Scramble.

Margo having fun!
This event is not sanctioned by the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association). Three calves are released in the arena, each with a ribbon tied to its neck. Then every sub thirteen year old in the stadium is set loose upon the animals with the goal of getting that ribbon. The obvious winners receive a prize. Our home town of Brighton, CO is a rural community, so seeing cattle is no big deal. But, my girls are definitely city girls, so actually chasing down future hamburger was completely foreign to them. I did talk them into it, and went down to the arena with them. It is suffice to say Bossie Jr was never in any danger from my brood. They ran a few steps, saw the melee, and common sense over took them. We did have a very good view of the spectacle, though.

 

The highlight of the rodeo is the bull riders.

Margo kept score during the rodeo
That’s why they are at the end. I have a great deal of respect for their courage. I would ridicule their brains, if not for a secret desire to ride, at least once, myself. There were plenty that couldn’t make eight seconds, but there were several that did and we had a good time cheering them all on. But, after that it was time to go. We had a great time at the rodeo, and good time in Cody. But, tomorrow we would finally make it to Yellowstone!

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Grave of Belle Drewry, a female ou…
Grave of Belle Drewry, a female o…
Graves of Bill Gallagher and Blin…
Graves of Bill Gallagher and "Bli…
Old Trail Town Cemetery w/ Rattles…
Old Trail Town Cemetery w/ Rattle…
This pile of antlers has been ther…
This pile of antlers has been the…
Grave of Jeremiah Johnston
Grave of Jeremiah Johnston
My littlest bullrider, Jessi
My littlest bullrider, Jessi
Jolene goes for eight seconds
Jolene goes for eight seconds
Margo having fun!
Margo having fun!
Margo kept score during the rodeo
Margo kept score during the rodeo
Grave of Buffalo Bills grandson, …
Grave of Buffalo Bill's grandson,…
Our program from the rodeo.
Our program from the rodeo.
Cody
photo by: marg_eric