Cody – The new year will bring the world’s attention to northwest Wyoming. A rare total solar eclipse will be fully visible in Thermopolis and Riverton, south of Cody. 2017 is also the 100th anniversary of the death of Buffalo Bill Cody, who brought the world’s attention to the American West. It is also the 100th birthday of the founding of the huge museum complex that bears his name.
A record number of visitors came from around the world to visit Yellowstone National Park last summer. Even more may come to northwest Wyoming next summer, to see the fully visible total eclipse. They’ll also have a chance to participate in the centennial celebration of Buffalo Bill Cody’s legacy in Cody, Wyoming.
Before he died in 1917, William F. Cody was one of the most famous men in the world. His Wild West Shows travelled across the USA and to Europe. He entertained royalty.
Buffalo Bill Museum curator Jeremy Johnston said Cody’s shows formed our own images of the west today.
Johnston explained, “The attack of the stagecoach, the attack of the homesteader cabin… All of these were recreated in the arena in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. And a lot of Hollywood movies, and later television copied the same images.”
So, our own romantic ideal of the American West started with Buffalo Bill.
Johnston said, “I think it’s the strongest part of American culture that remains from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West is this idea of dramatizing history.”
When Cody died in 1917, he was in Denver, Colorado, and his body was buried there. An adopted son worked his widow to build a museum on Lookout Mountain…but his niece, Mary Jester Allen, worked to create the Buffalo Bill Memorial Association, and a museum in the town he helped create: Cody.
So, Buffalo Bill Center of the West Director Bruce Eldredge said 2017 is also, “The hundredth anniversary of the founding of this institution.”
Eldredge pointed out Jester’s work with local families and New York notables created what would grow into the Center of the West: a 300,000 square foot complex with five museums. One is the Buffalo Bill Museum.
Eldredge said, “This is the largest museum between Denver and Minneapolis, Seattle and Kansas city.”
So, the Center will create Centennial Exhibitions, and hold a Buffalo Bill Legacy Symposium next summer. And Eldredge expects the people coming to Northwest Wyoming for the eclipse, will want to come here as well…
The Centennial ceremonies will start in February on Buffalo Bill’s birthday.