America's Best History Spotlight
On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.
At one time, not that long ago, the legacy of Buffalo Bill Cody and the Wild West shows he plied across the world were a highlight known by all, just as those of the circus kind knew of P.T. Barnum, even before a musical movie named the Greatest Showman. And if Barnum were actually the greatest, he certainly had one man, one western man, who gave him a run for his money. In 1895, William Cody founded a town in Wyoming, five hundred and fifty miles or so west of his Scout Rest Ranch in Nebraska that had begun his wild west show days. Today, you can visit his legacy in a plethora of western themed museums that will boggle your western heritage mind. And, at the end of your stay, you might just be placing Buffalo Bill Cody above that Barnum guy in the Greatest Showman on earth category, circa the turn of a previous century. Photo above: Old Trail Town, Cody, Wyoming, 2015, Carol M. Highsmith. Courtesy Library of Congress.
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Info, What's There Now, History Nearby
So, how famous was Buffalo Bill Cody? There were two hundred dime novels (yes, because they cost one dime to buy) written about him. He had led such a colorful life, born 1846, that by the time the town of Cody was founded in 1895, he had been a buffalo hunter for the Kansas-Pacific Railroad, providing 4,280 buffaloes as meat for the workers over his seventeen months of employment, rode the Pony Express, been a scout for the Army, and had gained even more attention for his Wild West Shows.
Mountain men and cattle ranchers had been in the area around Cody for decades before one cattle rancher, Jim Carter, established three thousand head of cattle on a farm nearby in 1879. Cody's first trip to the interior of Wyoming came in 1882, and it is suggested that this trip augered for his return due to the beauty of the land. In 1894, he purchased the Carter ranch and moved to the area. By 1895, the town of Cody had been planned by entrepreneurs Beck and Auger, whom Cody joined in its establishment. The first building was constructed in 1896. By 1903, Cody had ten saloons and three hotels, the Hotel Irma owned by Buffalo Bill himself, named after his daughter. By 1910, there were 1,132 residents. Today there are nearly ten thouand.
Image above: View of Cody, Wyoming, circa 1910. Courtesy Wyomingtalesandtrails.com. Below: Chromolithograph of Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World, Courier, 1899, courtesy Library of Congress.
Where Is It
Cody, Wyoming is located in Park County, Wyoming, just east of Yellowstone National Park along Route 14, about twenty-five miles from its entrance, or a bit over one half hour.
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What is There Now
The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is a complex of five museums near the center of Cody. The museums include the Draper Natural History Museum, the Plains Indian Museum, the Cody Firearms Museum, the Whitney Western Art Museum, and the Buffalo Bill Museum. Old Trail Town, a collection of twenty-five historic buildings, is another fantastic site for the western history fan. It is located along Route 14, a marvelous attraction to visit for Wyoming heritage.
When Open and How Much
Buffalo Bill Center of the West is open all year, with shorter hours and days in the winter. Tickets are good for two days and cost $19.75 for adults, $13.25 for youth 6-17, free for 5 and under.
Old Trail Town is open mid-May through September. Cost is $10 for adults, $5 for children 5-15, under 5 free.
Fees subject to change.
Buffalo Bill Center of the West
Old Trail Town
It's national park centric and national forests aplenty on both sides of Cody, Wyoming. From the national treasure that is Yellowstone National Park to the west, with Shoshone National Forest just south of it to the Bighorn National Forest to the east.
The Buffalo Bill Reservoir and Buffalo Bill Dam are located toward the entrance to Yellowstone, about six miles from the town. It was the highest dam in the world when constructed in 1910. Irrigation and water rights in the region had been a vision of Buffalo Bill, although he had not been able to achieve this and sold out in 1904. Boating, fishing, and camping are available there, plus a visitor center that covers the topic of the Shoshone Irrigation Project.