Thursday, July 2, 2009

Day 27 Buffalo Bill State CG Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody Wyoming Shoot-out at the Irma Hotel

Cody, Wyoming

June 29, 2009

Last night was quiet and dark with the stars bright in the sky because of minimal ambient light. We had another great night’s sleep.


We planned a visit to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody.

The center is often referred to as the “Smithsonian of the West.” The center houses the largest collection of firearms in the world. More guns then I cared

to see since I hate guns of any kind.

The classic western art was phenomenal and the exhibits for Buffalo Bill, the Plains Indians and Yellowstone unparalleled. There was a photography exhibit that caught our eye and we were in awe of the clarity and colors in the photographs. They looked more like paintings then photos however, we learned that all the photos had been digitally enhanced to improve depth, clarity and color so I guess we were right.

Many of the vignettes within the museum included stagecoaches that incidentally were manufactured in Concord, NH.

We attended a program with a folk singer and poet that was entertaining and unique.
Then it was on to the outdoor garden with magnificent sculptures.

“Buffalo Bill,” William F. Cody was probably the most famous American in the world during his lifetime. He had been involved in many events that shaped the American West. His Buffalo Bill Wild West Show beginning in 1933 was a world famous show that toured the U.S. and Europe for 30 years.

In addition to founding the town of Cody in 1895 he established his ranch south of town and in 1902 built the Irma Hotel which he called, “just the swellest hotel that ever was.” The Irma Hotel is listed on the National register of Historic Places by the National park Service.

Our next stop was the WWII Heart Mountain Relocation Camp 15 miles outside of Cody.

They are constructing a huge visitor center / museum to resemble the old barracks. It is not complete yet.

Several empty buildings and the hospital chimney spire rising in the sky are the few visible reminders of the Heart Mountain Relocation Center, once the third largest community in Wyoming housing 10,767 Japanese-American detainees.

At the height of WWII in 1942 about 120,000 Japanese – American citizens were removed from their West Coast homes and placed in ten interment camps around the country. The national security measure, established for the supposed “protection” of Japanese-Americans, has since been criticized as an overreaction by the U.S. government. In the mid-1980’s the Congress awarded compensation to internees and their families who lost property and businesses as a result of internment.

In 1986 a memorial was established at the camp to honor its residents who died while fighting for the Allies during the war. The 442nd Japanese-American Regimental Combat Team was one of the most highly decorated of the war.

The two remaining buildings on the site are the barracks that housed the families. The foundations of many other buildings and barracks are visible. The camp reminded us of the old Paul Dever grounds in Taunton. When walking through the area it made us take pause to think that American citizens were essentially taken prisoner in their own country against their will and were forced to live in less then favorable conditions. It certainly was and is contradictory to what our Armed Forces are trying to do around the world – bring down dictatorships’ and help the citizens of those countries gain the right to freedom.

On our way back to the campground we decided to take in the “Shootout” at the Irma Hotel scheduled for 6 PM. The street adjacent to the hotel was closed off and there were many people gathered to watch the show. The premise of the show was cute but trying not to sound mean or anything the acting left a lot to be desired. We stayed to see the entire skit but it is not something we would recommend.

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