Cody's History


Colonel William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody first entered the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming in the 1870's with Professor O.C. March, distinguished geologist of Yale University, who was making a study of the natural resources of the West. The tremendous possibilities for development of land through irrigation, the rich soil, the grandeur of the scenery, the abundance of fish and game, and the proximity of Yellowstone National Park, all were influencing factors in the decision of Colonel Cody to return during the mid 1890's.

The Colonel and several friends came to the area with the avowed purpose of land development and the building of a community. The original town site selected was located at the east end of the Shoshone Canyon, but was later moved to the present site of the city. At the insistence of Colonel Cody's fellow developers, the site was named Cody in 1895. Streets were laid out and named for General Phil Sheridan and the originators of the community. By 1902, the town was incorporated and Colonel Cody opened his famous "Hotel in the Rockies", the Irma, named after his youngest daughter. In the same year, he induced the Burlington Railroad to build a spur into the new town, and pioneered a road to the east entrance of Yellowstone National Park. The famous TE Ranch, some thirty-five miles southwest of Cody, was established as a horse and cattle ranch and hide-away for brief periods of rest.

To bolster the economy of the struggling new town, Colonel Cody persuaded his friend, President Teddy Roosevelt, to establish the Bureau of Reclamation and to build the Shoshone Dam and Reservoir, later renamed the Buffalo Bill Dam and Reservoir. With the completion of this dam, the highest in the world at the time, the community was established soundly in the irrigation and electric power fields. Also through his friendship with the President, Buffalo Bill helped establish the first great National Forest, the Shoshone, and the first Ranger Station, at Wapiti. The organization in 1901 of the Cody Club, Cody's Chamber of Commerce, the Cody Stampede and Rodeo in 1922, the dedication of the various structures of the Buffalo Bill Memorial Association, including the Gertrude Whitney Statue of Colonel Cody in 1924, the Buffalo Bill Museum in 1927, and the Whitney Gallery of Western Art in 1959, have all been steps in the development of the city.

Perhaps the greatest asset of Buffalo Bill's home town of Cody is the continuation of the spirit of individual accomplishment, western hospitality, honesty, and friendliness, and joint cooperation of the citizens as was instilled in the early settlers by the "Old Scout". That spirit still prevails and is manifested today on the streets and in the homes of Cody Country people.




William F. Cody born in Scott County, Iowa, February 26. Bill has two older sisters, Martha (1835-1858), and Julia (1843-1928), and an older brother, Samuel (1841-1853).


Eliza Cody, a sister is born (d.1902).


The Cody's move to LeClaire, Iowa into the famous "boyhood home."


Helen Cody, a sister is born (d.1911).


Samuel, Bill's brother, is killed in a riding accident.


Cody family moves to Fort Leavenworth Kansas.


Charles Cody, a brother is born (d. 1926).


Isaac Cody, Bill's father dies. Russell, Majors and Waddell hire Bill as a mounted messenger.


Bill works as a bullwhacker for a wagon train; goes to Ft. Laramie.


Bill spends the winter trapping beaver.


Bill joins the gold rush to Pike's Peak, Colorado.


Cody probably spends a few months riding for the Pony Express.


Cody joins a Jayhawker band, a guerilla group loyal to the union.


Mary Laycock Cody, Bill's mother dies.


Bill enlists in the 7th Kansas Volunteer Calvary.


Cody marries Louisa Frederici on March 6. On December 16, daughter Arta was born.


Earns the nickname "Buffalo Bill" as a buffalo hunter for the rail road.


Appointed Chief of Scouts for the 5th U.S. Calvary. On winter campaign Bill leads the rescue of a troop guided by Wild Bill Hickok.


Bill guides the 5th Cavalry to victory at Summit Springs, Colorado; Ned Buntline writes the first dime novel with Buffalo Bill as the hero.


The Cody's only son, Kit Carson Cody, is born at Ft. McPherson, Nebraska.


Cody wins Medal of Honor. Bill guides the hunting party of Grand Duke Alexis of Russia. Cody's daughter Orra is born.


Cody, with Buntline and John B. "Texas Jack" Onohundro, forms the Buffalo Bill Combination. Hickok joins Texas Jack and Buffalo Bill in the stage play.


Cody guides Col. Anson Mills' Big Horn Expedition.


Cody lives with his family in Rochester, New York.


Famous fight with Yellow Hand (actually Yellow Hair) July 17. The Cody's son Kit dies April 20.


Cody establishes the Dismal River Ranch in Nebraska with Frank North.


As a public figure, Cody begins speaking out for Indian rights; publishes the first and only authentic auto-biography.


On July 4, Cody organizes the "Old Glory Blowout" at North Platte, Nebraska.


February 9, daughter Irma Louise is born; daughter Orra dies on October 24. The first Wild West at the American Exhibition in London.


Annie Oakley joins the Wild West Show.


Sitting Bull joins Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.


Cody builds his Scout's Rest Ranch at North Platte, Nebraska.


Cody is appointed Colonel of National Guard, Nebraska. Introduces Europe to the Wild West at the American Exhibition in London.


Cody takes the Wild West to France and Tours Europe for four years.


Cody is requested by General Miles to attempt a conference with Sitting Bull.


The "Rough Riders of the World" introduced to Wild West.


Wild West opens near the World's Columbian Exhibition, Chicago, Illinois.


Cody speaks out for women's suffrage and conservation issues.


Cody establishes the TE Ranch and helps found Cody, Wyoming.

1898 The Trans-Missouri Exposition declares August 31 "Cody Day".


Cody establishes a newspaper, The Cody Enterprise.


Begins spending large sums for irrigation and other projects in Wyoming.


Cody's longtime partner, Nate Salsbury dies. Cody forms a mining company and begins investing heavily at Oracle, Arizona.


The Wild West tours England and Europe for four years.


Cody's daughter Arta dies.


Construction begins on the Shoshone, later Buffalo Bill dam.


Buffalo Bill and Pawnee Bill merge their shows into Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Pawnee Bill's Far East Combined.


Cody begins a series of Farewell Tours.


Buffalo Bill plays Santa Claus for miners' children at Oracle, Arizona.


Wild West show bankrupt at Denver Colorado. Cody forms a motion picture company to produce a film on the Indian Wars.


Cody tours unhappily for two years with the Sella-Floto Circus.


Cody, with the 101 Ranch Show, urges military preparedness.


On January 10, Cody dies in Denver Co, In June he is buried on Lookout Mountain, Colorado. The Buffalo Bill Memorial Association is chartered in Cody, Wyoming on March 1.


The post-war flu epidemic claims the lives of daughter Irma and her husband, Fred Garlow.


Louisa Cody dies in Cody, Wyoming, and is buried on Lookout Mountain, Colorado.


Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney creates a sculpture entitled "The Scout". to be placed in Cody, Wyoming. It is dedicated on July 4, 1924.


The Cody Family Association is organized in Chicago, Oct 27.


The Buffalo Bill Museum opens in Cody, Wyoming, July 4.


Buffalo Bill's boyhood home is moved to Cody, Wyoming.

1949 The boyhood home is deeded to the BBMA.