Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cody, Wyoming and the Buffalo Bill Historical Center

The town of Cody, Wyoming is tiny, with just over 8000 citizens on almost every day of the year (during the Fourth of July celebration, the population doubles, to nearly 20,000).

Crime in Cody is close to non-existent--most locals don't bother to lock their doors at night. The food at Peter's, the local deli, is incredible. And to top it all off, the residents are invariably friendly.

But what Cody is most famous for is the man who gave the town its name, founder Buffalo Bill Cody.

If you know the name of Buffalo Bill, you recognize it for one, or both of these reasons:

He started a famous "Wild West" show, with legends like sharpshooter Annie Oakley, that toured the world, even performing before the Queen of England.

And he is the man most associated with the near-extinction of the American buffalo.

In reality, Buffalo Bill killed 4280 buffalo over a period of 18 months--no small amount, but a pittance when compared to the 20 million believed slaughtered by trappers at the time. Later in life, he even argued for the conservation of the species, fair dealings with Native Americans, and a woman's right to vote. He even paid the women in his Wild West show the same wage as the men, something unheard of at the time.

Which is why, if you go to Cody, you simply cannot pass by the chance to visit the Buffalo Bill Historical Center to find out more about this complex man and the true history of the West.
The Historical Center is actually made up of five museums:

The Buffalo Bill Museum, The Whitney Gallery of Western Art, The Draper Museum of Natural History, The Plains Indian Museum, and my boys'favorite, The Cody Firearms Museum, housing "the most comprehensive assemblage of American firearms in the world".

And yes, Buffalo Bill's favorite gun, nicknamed Lucretia Borgia, is part of the firearms display.

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