We have reached the end of the road. Our time in the wilds of Wyoming is over, and this is the day we head home. The car is loaded with our carry-on bags and personal items (two lap tops and a camera backpack). We’ve made several passes through the various rooms, making sure that precious cords, batteries, chargers and other things have not been forgotten. Leave behind a pair of socks and it’s no big deal. Misplace the digital camera charger and it’s a real pain in the behind. It’s time to say good-bye to Joel and Krystal. It’s time to say good-bye to our temporary home at Rand Creek Ranch. By the end of the day, it will be time to say good-bye to Wyoming.
The final day was our “Cody” day. With time to kill before our flight home, it was a great opportunity to squeeze in a little last-minute sight-seeing. What is there to do in Cody? Lots! Although we decided against it, the Cody Firearms Experience would be great for history gun buffs. After instruction on gun safety, you could shoot weapons of the old west like a six-shooter or Winchester Rifle or even a civil war Gatling gun. There’s the Buffalo Bill Dam, Trail Town, and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. The Buffalo Bill Center is a collection of various museums within a museum. If you were to visit everything wing, it would take you an entire day.
Buffalo Bill Dam
Buffalo Bill Dam is a concrete dam on the Shoshone River that stands 325 feet high. When completed in 1910, the dam was an engineering marvel. It the tallest dam in the world, and one of the first concrete arch dams built in the US. Originally named the Shoshone Dam for the river, its name was later changed to honor the man who had envisioned the dam and its resulting irrigation system for his beloved town of Cody. Beneath the waives of the Buffalo Bill Reservoir are the remnants of Cody’s neighboring settlement, Marquette. The small ranching community of Marquette was settled years before Cody was founded. The decision to build a massive dam on the Shoshone meant an end to Marquette, submerging the settlement under what is now the Buffalo Bill Reservoir.
Old Trail Town
Old Trail Town in Cody is not exactly “Old Cody”, as in buildings that were a part of Cody’s early years. It’s a collection of old buildings assembled in one place. Much of the collection comes from pieces of history within 150 miles of Cody. Trail Town began in 1967 through the efforts of Bob Edgar. As an archaeologist and native to the Big Horn Basin region of Wyoming, Edgar explored the area for the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. It was his desire to gather historical buildings and relics of the west and display them in a common site. Trail Town has amassed more than 25 buildings, over a hundred horse-drawn vehicles and an extensive collection of memorabilia of the Wyoming frontier. It is the largest such collection of its kind. In addition to the buildings and artifacts, the town has a cemetery. The most noted person “reburied” in Trail Town’s cemetery is Jeremiah Johnson. His grave was relocated to Trail Town in June 1974, with more than two thousand in attendance. His most famous pallbearer for the reburial was Robert Redford, who had once played the role of Johnson. It’s interesting to note that Buffalo Bill Cody, founder of the town, is not buried in Trail Town.
Buffalo Bill Center of the West
The Buffalo Bill Center of the West can be traced back to 1917, when the Buffalo Bill Memorial Association was established after the death of William Cody. The Buffalo Bill Museum, the original museum, opened in 1927 in a log cabin across from the current museum location. It was reinstalled in 1986 at its current location. The first wing of the complex is dedicated to celebrating the most famous man of his time, Buffalo Bill. Since 2008, the Center of the West has been a part of the Smithsonian Affiliates program. As an Affiliate, the Center hosts artifacts on loan from the Smithsonian. The Center also loans some of its own vast collection to be exhibited at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. Today the center complex of five museums and a research library.
The Buffalo Bill Wing
The Cody Firearms Museum
In 1979, while the museum was still housed in a log building, the Cody Firearms Museum began with a loan from the Olin Corporation of the Winchester Arms Collection. After the relocation in 1986, the Winchester collection became a permanent part of the center when it was deeded as a gift in 1988. To date, the Cody Firearms Museum has over 7,000 firearms with more the 30,000 firearms-related artifacts, making it the most comprehensive collection of American firearms in the world.
The Draper Natural History Museum
On June 4, 2002 The Draper Natural History Museum opened its doors to the public. The Draper Natural History Museum is nearly 20,000 square feet of interactive exhibits highlighting geology, wildlife and the human presence in the Grater Yellowstone region.
The Plains Indian Museum
Since 1979, the Plains Indian Museum has been a leader in promoting public recognition of the importance of the Plains Indians. In 2007, the Buffalo Bill Center acquired the Paul Dyck Plains Indian Buffalo Culture Collection, relocating the Plains Indian Museum as part of the center. The majority of the collection is from the early reservation period of 1880-1930. The collection also artifacts dating from the late 18th century to pre-1890s. These are some of the best preserved examples of Plains Indian Life.
The Whitney Western Art Museum
In 1959 The Whitney Western Art Museum was a gallery first opened to display great works of western art. It was later united with the Buffalo Bill Museum as an associated museum. In 2009 the Art Museum reopened in the center.
Also a part of the Center is the Harold McCracken Research Library. It is a collection of 30,000 books, 400 manuscripts and more than 500,000 photographs. While not a public library, researchers and the general public are welcome to visit the library by appointment.
A Last Look at Cody
Up, Up and Away . . .
Thank you for coming along and being a part of our Holiday Vacation to the Wilds of Wyoming. I know this a deviation from my usual cooking posts. I appreciate the indulgence in another subject that is near and dear to my heart – history and our relationship to the world around us. I hope you have enjoyed this 8-day week as much as we did.
The Rand Creek Ranch: The Wilds of Wyoming – Day 1
Wildlife and the Geyser Basins: The Wilds of Wyoming – Day 2
Scenic drive along the Bearthooth Byway: The Wilds of Wyoming – Day 3
History and its Beauty: The Wilds of Wyoming – Day 4
Other Worldly Basins: The Wilds of Wyoming – Day 5
A Journey back in Time: The Wilds of Wyoming – Day 6
One Last Look: The Wilds of Wyoming – Day 7