For those of you not so familiar with the opening out of the "Wild West" during the second half of the 19th century, then you may not have appreciated how this amazing character had such an impact on the development of the country....read on...
May 27, 2018 - we left you last time as we were wandering around Cody in Wyoming. The main attraction here without a doubt is the wonderful "Buffalo Bill Center of The West". Well...maybe more of an attraction for me than The Blonde.
Tracing its roots back to 1917, the Buffalo Bill Museum is the flagship museum of the "Buffalo Bill Center of the West". First opening its doors to the public in 1927 in a log cabin in downtown Cody—modeled after Bill Cody’s house at his “TE Ranch”—southwest of town, the museum remained in that location until 1969 when it was relocated to a newly-built wing of the then Buffalo Bill Historical Center.
Here, as in its original incarnation, the Buffalo Bill Museum’s focus is on the life and times of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody (1846 – 1917), the noted guide, scout, frontiersman, showman, actor, entrepreneur, town founder, and American icon.
Born in Scott County, Iowa Territory on February 26th, 1846, he came to the world as the American nation was looking westward. America challenged England that year for the Pacific Northwest and established the US northern boundary with Canada. Cody fought for the Union during the Civil War and then hunted and was a scout for the United States Army during the Indian Wars. He became an advocate for the rights of the Indian people and for conservation. As Buffalo Bill he then brought the West to the world, "under a great tent" and was acknowledged as an accomplished showman who the year before his death wrote...."All my interests are still with the West and its future".
Positioning the story of Cody’s life within the context of the history and myth of the American West, the museum documents how,...."... in an age without television or movies, (or the internet!!) and under the persona of “Buffalo Bill,” Cody became the world’s foremost communicator about the history, promise, and enduring spirit of the American West".
In addition to documenting the life and interests of William F. Cody, and the history and operations of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, the museum’s collection interprets the history of the American cowboy, dude ranching, western conservation, frontier entrepreneurship, and the source of American history in "conquering" the West.
Now....before we go any further, it has to be said that if you are not interested in the history of the wild west then....well you really should be! This was a time of great exploration and putting to one side the remorseless hunting down of the first nation/aboriginal indian tribes, a time of great endeavour. The great thing about this particular museum is they have devoted equal space and time to the story of the Indian tribes and also the natural history of this area.
Just one example of the many halls in the center.
A renovated stage coach for the US Mail
The Pains Indian Museum tells the significant story of the lives of Plains Indian peoples, their cultures, traditions, values, and histories, as well as the contexts of their lives today. In the words of Plains Indian Museum Advisory Board member and Crow tribal historian Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow, the Museum is “a living, breathing place where more than just Indian objects are on display.” Since 1979 the museum has been a leader in promoting public recognition of the importance of Plains Indian art due to its nationally significant collection. Curator Emerita Emma I. Hansen said, “Visitors to the Plains Indian Museum learn, not only about the beautiful objects made by Indian people, but the stories of the people behind the objects and the special contexts in which these objects were made and used in daily and ceremonial life.” I was amazed at both the artistry and also the craftsmanship used with such simple tools at their disposal.
The entrance to the "Plain Indian Museum" inside the Buffalo Bill Center.
Just one of the amazing selection of original headresses worn by local tribes.
A traditional Cheyenne "War Shirt" such as the one that would have been worn at the Battle of Little Big Horn.
The Firearms Museum in the center, houses the most comprehensive collection of American firearms in the world. In 1975, the Winchester Arms Collection, the heart of this museum, adventured west as a loan from the Olin Corporation. It was deeded as a gift to the center in 1988. To date, the Cody Firearms Museum has over 7,000 firearms on display with more than 30,000 firearms-related artifacts.
Winchester-made guns are not the only manufacturer you will see here, virtually every significant manufacturer in the world is represented! Visitors are able to explore the evolution of modern arms technology from its earliest days through to today’s outstanding variations.
Whether you are interested in sporting, military, embellished, or even Hollywood guns, there is something for all visitors to enjoy.
Remington is America's oldest gun maker and is claimed to be America's oldest factory that still makes its original product. Remington is the largest U.S. producer of shotguns and rifles. The company has developed or adopted more cartridges than any other gun maker or ammunition manufacturer in the world.
Another display featuring Winchester rifles..."the gun that won the west"
....and for those officiandos of the great cowboy/wild west tv series to hit our screens in the 60's and 70's....who could forget "Bonanza"....as a boy this was a regular Sunday afternoon watch...
There were firearms and notations also from many other films and tv series, such as Rawhide, featuring a very young Clint Eastwood, The Lone Ranger a Saturday morning children's matinee special and Paint Your Wagon, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, Stagecoach (featuring my personal all time hero JohnWayne in his first film as the leading gun!), and so many more.
The Draper Natural History Museum inside the center has a focus towards..."Connecting You with Nature in Yellowstone Country"... the Draper has garnered international acclaim for its "....immersive, informative, and inspiring exhibit experiences". It focuses its galleries towards the ecology and natural history of the Greater Yellowstone area and includes regular daily interaction with the live raptors which is part of the rehabilitation program run within the center. This series of halls requires just a day all by itself to really study all it has to offer including some amazing video documentaries....all too much for some people who on "information overload" had I noticed retreated to one of the "cinemas" for forty winks!
The above wall mural depicts the scene when Buffalo Bill took his travelling show to England and performed before Queen Victoria, in May 1887.
When William F. Cody died in Denver on January 10, 1917, just short of his 71st birthday, a Chicago newspaper wrote..."Buffalo Bill has been more than picturesques, he has been worthwhile". The editor meant that Cody was a "representative man" in the old fashioned sense of the word.
It took 3 visits to the museum over two days and still I had not managed to visit all the halls. Now I understood when talikng to some other visitors how they had come back 3 or 4 times and some who had even stayed a week or more in Cody to soak up the atmosphere of the Wild West, before often moving on to Yellowstone only 3 hours drive away, where they could see what Buffalo Bill was pioneering for the future of the west and America.
Buffalo Bill represented to the world the very image of the Wild West, an adventurer and a showman. A true all American hero!