If Mark Twain owned Hannibal Missouri it is even more true that William Cody owned Cody Wyoming and that Cody Wyoming owns William “Buffalo Bill” Cody.
William Cody was single handedly responsible for the city’s birth. By 1895, at age fifty, after years as a Pony Express rider, military scout, buffalo hunter, showman and entrepreneur with his world famous Wild West Show, Bill Cody came to the unincorporated area, took a liking and used his influence to establish the village of Cody Wyoming. Using that influence and own money he convinced the railroad to bring a spur to Cody, built a canal to supply water, built four hotels, started a newspaper and supplied the money to build the East Entrance road to Yellowstone. He wanted residents and tourists to occupy his namesake town and they came. They still come and are not disappointed.
The show goes on even today. His Erma Hotel, named for his daughter, is the centerpiece of a very walkable six block main street packed with stores, restaurants and saloons of every variety. Each evening in the Summer there is a “gunfight” in the street in front of the hotel… two dollars for a reserved front row chair, otherwise stand for free.
The 6 PM gunfight is followed by an 8 PM nightly rodeo about three miles up the road. Both scenes were packed with viewers. We estimate 300 at the gunfight and saw 400 to 500 cars at the rodeo grounds. (We skipped the rodeo for dinner instead.) This was all on a balmy Tuesday evening.
A few blocks west is the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, a modern multi-million dollar complex of five extensive museums reflecting the local culture.
The Natural History wing describes and displays the prehistoric events and critters of the area. The Plains Indian Museum wing has artifacts of the pre-whiteman era, The Whitney Western Art wing has an excellent collection of Remington and other Western art, contemporary and historic. The Buffalo Bill Museum wing features many of his personal effects and pieces from his Wild West Show.
The Center is probably best known for its Cody Firearms Museum. This is an almost overwhelming display of firearms and weapons from the eleventh century to today. There are seventy cases each with a theme and each item well documented. There are separate sections dedicated to Winchester, Savage, Remington, Colt, Glock Derringer and others. There are ancient crossbows and full cases devoted to blunderbusses and black powder weapons.
We did take the Cody Trolley Tour of course, a one hour trip around Cody and to the Cody Dam. We learned the history of the buildings and the insider stories of Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley and his burial controversy. Then we had lunch back on the main street as we checked out the shops.
That evening, in place of going to the rodeo, we elected for some excitement, danger and adventure of our own. We had tired of beef. We went to the only Japanese restaurant in this section of beef-country Wyoming and ordered a sashimi dinner. We were tentative at first, Cody is a piscine desert in a bovine sea, a long distance from wild oceans. But the fish came through as fresh as any we have ever had.
The next day we packed and headed west once again. We needed to get to Twin Falls Idaho. Google Maps said seven hours. We got in the car and one GPS, said “turn right”, the other “turn left.” I knew it would be a long day. The car GPS is good but about six years out of date. The cell phone GPS is useless if you accidentally shut it off and there isn’t cell signal to allow it to reestablish. None of this is helped by Yellowstone and the NPS policy of not continuing route markings within their borders. The end result was that we got to see and enjoy much more of Wyoming and Yellowstone than we would have, had we had one good, up-to-date GPS. We zig-zagged through Yellowstone, crossing 10,000 foot plus Bear Tooth Pass with snowbanks on each side, eventually emerging at the East Gate.
So, why are there no pictures of these stunning vistas and meadows? My cell phone/camera was being used in GPS mode and we were unwilling to risk changing to camera.
Ten and a half hours later we rolled into Twin Falls. We registered then went to the nearby restaurant Elevation 486 where we lucked out again, getting a perfect view of the adjacent canyon from which the restaurant derives its name, and a colorful sunset.
Concluding this wonder-filled day was our order of perfectly grilled salmon and a lagniappe of apple crisp and ice cream.