Community and People: History of Cody

COLONEL WILLIAM F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody first entered the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming in the 1870's while guiding 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 townsite 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 west 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 Rooselvelt, to establish the Bureau of Reclamation and to build the Shoshone Dam and Reservoir, later renamed the Buffal 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 acccomplishment, 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 County people.

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