A Wyoming Tribute To ‘Buffalo’ Bill Cody On His 172nd Birthday
One of Wyoming's greatest heroes was born 172 years ago today. To celebrate the illustrious life of 'Buffalo' Bill Cody, here's a look back at his enormous impact on the Cowboy State.
Cody was born on the banks of Mississippi River near the town of LeClaire, Iowa. At the age of 11, his father died and the boy went to work as a wrangler for a wagon train company. In 1858, at the age of 12, he arrived at Fort Laramie. It was the first of many times he would travel through the area that later became Wyoming.
By 15, Cody was riding for the Pony Express. After serving in the cavalry for the Union Army during the Civil War, Cody returned to the high plains, working as a buffalo hunter for the Kansas Pacific, where his expert marksmanship earned him the nickname "Buffalo Bill".
Cody rejoined the Army and became a national celebrity after winning the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery during the Indian Wars. By 1872, newspapers and dime novels had made Buffalo Bill the most famous name in the country.
In the early 1880s, Cody parlayed his fame into fortune. For the next three decades, his wild west show was the most popular touring act in the world. In many ways, he was America's first "rock star".
In 1894, at the height of his fame, Cody visited Sheridan, Wyo. and fell in love with the Bighorn Mountains. Along with a group of investors, he founded an irrigation company and invested in the area that soon would be named in his honor. By 1899, the town had a train depot, newspaper and nearly 300 residents. The city of Cody was officially incorporated in 1901.
The following year, Cody build the Irma Hotel. Named after his daughter, it quickly earned a reputation among the finest hotels in the west and remains a popular tourist attraction to this day.
On January 10, 1917, Cody died of kidney failure at the age of 70. Over a century later, his burial at Lookout Mountain outside of Denver remains a source of controversy. In 1948, a local American Legion chapter offered a reward to return his remains to Cody, Wyo. In response, the Denver chapter of the American Legion dispatched guards to protect the gravesite and buried the body deeper into the mountain. Although he was laid to rest in Colorado, the legacy of Buffalo Bill Cody will live forever in Wyoming.