Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Day 26 Buffalo Bill State CG Cody, Wyoming Buffalo Bill Dam, Miniature City, Old Trail Town

Captain’s Blog
June 28, 2009

Again, we woke to another beautiful sunny day. The nights have been very cool (in the 40’s) but great for sleeping. We drove the eighty miles to Cody, Wyoming, a place we hadn’t considered stopping until Kelly told us not to miss it because there was a lot to see and do there. We took her advice, did some research and decided we should add this stop to our itinerary.

First up was looking for a campground all of which were overpriced with the sites crowed together and pretty close to the center of town and highway. We opted for a state campground nine miles outside of Cody with sites on a reservoir with the snow- covered mountains as a backdrop. There are no utilities but the scenery and quiet make up for that. What a great find and we could not believe we got lucky again and found another little piece of heaven to enjoy. After setting up, we had lunch outside and enjoyed our surroundings.

A man from another site came to visit, talked non-stop, was very opinionated and reminded us of Archie Bunker. His visit broke the calm we were enjoying and caused us some stress. We are not used to dealing with bigoted people. I finally, but politely excused myself and told Ron we needed to get into to town to the visitor center before it closed. The man left and went on to voice his opinions to another camper that had just arrived and was trying to set up his campsite.

On the way back into town we came upon multiple EMS vehicles and police cars. We noticed a motorcycle actually imbedded broadside into the side of the mountain. We didn’t see a covered body so assumed that the person was taken away by ambulance. I can’t imagine anyone surviving that crash. The motorcycle was high up the mountainside and there were no skid marks to indicate braking.

We arrived at the visitor center, but unfortunately it had just closed. We stopped at the Old West Miniature Village. The Old West lives on at the village through thousands of 2.5 inch high figures that trace the history of Wyoming and Montana from the 1600’s to the late 1890’s.

The diorama covers 7000 square feet with scenes of buffalo being driven over cliffs, mountain men competing at the Green River Rendezvous and Sioux warriors besieging a stockade trading post. Other scenes include that of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, (Custer’s Last Stand), miniature railroads, wagons on the Oregon Trail and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

Proprietor Jerry Fick has spent most of his life collecting and making the figures in the collection. The portrayals are historically accurate and the diorama is the largest in the U.S. to depict Wyoming history.

Also housed within the museum are many Indian artifacts including a Native American cradle board, from the Sitting Bull family as well as a knife and sheath carried by a Sioux warrior during the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn.

Our next stop was at Old Trail Town. Bob Edgar, a native of the Wyoming Big Horn Basin, had developed an interest in archaeology and history as a young boy. He worked as an archaeologist for the Buffalo Bill Historical Society in Cody and realized that the old historical buildings and associated materials were rapidly disappearing from the landscape of Cody.

In 1967 he began work to gather historic buildings and relics to be displayed at a site on the west side of Cody. This was the area Buffalo Bill and his associates had chosen for the first town site of “Cody City” in 1895.

Many of the buildings were taken completely apart, moved and rebuilt in the new location. There are 26 buildings that date back from 1879 to 1901 on the site of Old Trail Town. There are 100 horse drawn vehicles and a collection of memorabilia and authentic Indian artifacts at the site.

The town is very well organized and really gives one the feel of what it must have been like to live in those days. Among the buildings we toured was the cabin that was the rendezvous for Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid and other outlaws of the region. If nothing else this entire trip has served as a huge history lesson for us, one that could not have captured the essence of the times in a book.

We passed the site of the motorcycle accident on the way to the Buffalo Bill Dam and noticed a memorial had been set up at the site of the motorcycle crash mentioned earlier. A grim reminder of another life lost.

Next it was on to the Buffalo Bill Dam and Shoshone Project. As the Union Pacific Railroad stretched across the Great Plains in the late 1860’s hundreds of pioneers sought their fortune in he west. As more settlers moved in the need for a dependable supply of water became evident.

In 1897 and 1899 Colonel William F. (Buffalo Bill) Cody and his associates acquired from the state of Wyoming the right to take water from the Shoshone River to irrigate 169,000 acres of land in the Bighorn Basin. In 1903 the federal government stepped in to help with irrigation development and the Shoshone Project became one of the first federal water development projects.

Against all odds and many setbacks, mostly weather related the Shoshone Dam, later renamed the Buffalo Bill Dam was completed after five years of construction. When completed in 1910 it was the highest dam in the world at 325 feet. Because of its historical significance the dam was added to the national register of Historic Places in 1973. It is also a National Civil Engineering Landmark.

In 1993 the beginning of a dam modification took place to raise the dam an additional 25 feet to create an additional 20,000 acre-feet of reservoir storage capacity. An additional 25.5 megawatts of power generating was also added. CLICK FOR VIDEO:
The water rushing over the spillways was incredible with a beautiful rainbow bouncing across the water. The sound of the rushing water tremendously loud and served as a reminder to us of the force and power of the water flowing beneath the walkway.

1 comment:

  1. Next time in Cody take advantage of the Irma hotel and cafe. The building is over 100 years old and was built for and named after one of Col Cody's children. Highly recommended is the bread pudding witha whiskey sauce! To die for! Also a major atttration is the Buffalo Bill Museum. Actually about six museums in one, it's a MAJOR stop requiring a couple of days to do it even rudimentary justice.