In the late 1890's when William F. 'Buffalo Bill' Cody arrived in this area he fell in love with it, the river and the hot springs. He supported the progress for the town and its infrastructure.
Buffalo Bill was everything from a rancher, Pony Express rider, an Army soldier and scout, a scout for the railroads and Wild West Show Performer.
Best known for his Wild West Shows he performed in 48 of the lower States, in fact the only one he didn't perform in was Nevada.
He took his 500 strong group of Cowboys, cowgirls, Indians, work crew and theatre sets across the country side and even took them all on a ship to Europe performing for the Queen and other dignitaries.
Buffalo Bill built 3 hotels along the route from Cody to Yellowstone (it was already the nations first state park) offering rest stops for travellers. Would have been one hell of a trek out here in those days!
The Irma Hotel in Cody, so named after Buffalo Bill's youngest daughter was to be furnished with only the best of everything. It opened in November of 1902. Apparently the Irma Hotel rooms still provide steam heating and are decked out in antique furnishings, some still original to the hotel.
The Museum still has the silver ware and dishes from the hotel.
The Buffalo Bill Centre of the West Museum is a fantastic place to visit and yes preferably you will need a good full day if not two and your pass will get you two days anyway.
His life took many twists and turns and some of his ventures were not always profitable.
Married to Louisa Frederici, Bill and Louisa's first venture was running a hotel in Leavenworth, Kansas but he longed for the plains. He left Louisa for 9months. This was the start of many trips away from his wife and children. They had 4 children, Arta, Kit Carson, Orra Maude and Irma Louise. He was not present at any of their births!
Kit died at the age of 5 from scarlet fever and Orra would also die 8 years later at age 11. Along with financial strains this put further strains on his and Louisa's relationship. Arta, the eldest, married but later passed away in her early 40's. William and Louisa divorced in 1904.
This left Irma who spent several weeks with Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show in 1894. She would later travel with him at other times for the show. Annie Oakley had taken Irma under her wing, the cast referred to her (endearingly) as “Buffalo Bill's pet”.
Buffalo Bill was also an advocate for women's rights and he was convinced that they were equal to men. He had many women trick riders and sharpshooters including both Annie Oakley and Lillian Smith perform with his troop.
This is only a very very brief insight to Buffalo Bill, his relations with the Indians, various ventures – newspaper publishing, mining etc.
He died January 10, 1917 and is buried on Lookout Mountain West of Denver.
After this we had lunch at The Eatery within the museum, excellent choices, buffet, build your own sandwiches, wraps etc.
Then we went into the seemingly endless Firearms Museum. Holy moly! There is just about anything and everything, beautifully displayed, cut away's to see internal workings, gun tools, lathes, original engineering drawings etc!! There are some very interesting international firearm samples on display also.
Pre dinner drinks at the Silver Dollar Saloon after a stroll down the street in our period costumes. We visited the Irma for the gun fight in the street, drinks and dinner. The original cherrywood bar is stunning!
We met some amazing people. First time Sturgis participants from the U.S. and New Zealand! Chatted with the shootout performers and enjoyed ourselves…….perhaps a little too much! 🙂