August 28 - 30, 2015:
Leaving Billings on route 90 west, I’m thinking this is probably one of the least attractive areas in Montana. I stopped 10 miles down the road at the town of Laurel for fuel and pulling out onto the highway next to the aromatic oil refineries brought back memories of the refineries on the Jersey Turnpike south of Newark. As I rode on, the smoke from the forest fires continued to mask the mountain views and kept me in a funky state of mind. Luckily, by the time we reached the Wyoming border, the air was clearing, the sun sinning, the mountain shapes again showing, the road smoother and life was good.
We drove through Cody, then through three tunnels, then past the huge Buffalo Bill Dam and then to our destination, the Buffalo Bill State Park. Twinkles was waiting, having already located a great campsite overlooking the reservoir. It’s a dry camping site, with potable water, a dump station and beautiful views.
|The emerald waters of Buffalo Bill Reservoir|
|Tunnel through mountain near Dam|
The Buffalo Bill Dam, originally called the Shoshone Dam, was a huge undertaking which started in 1905 and was completed in 1910. At that time it was the highest dam in the world at 325 feet and it’s purpose was for agricultural irrigation. In 1985 the height of the dam was increased by 25 feet and in 1992 an electrical generating plant was added.
|A dizzying view from the top of the Dam|
|Looking down into the canyon at the powerhouse below|
The town of Cody was started by William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody, who was the original, “most interesting man” of his day. A lot of traffic passes through Cody on the way to the east gate of Yellowstone National Park about 40 miles away. Cody has the “Museum of the West”, affiliated with the Smithsonian Museum, which is our primary reason for coming here. There is also a rodeo every night, a street gun fight, lots of stores selling everything western you might need.
|Nice brick and tile work on building|
|The Irma Hotel still going strong|
|The Cody Theater has nightly cowboy show|
|Sign on the Silver Dollar Saloon building|
|Another classic building in downtown|
|A downtown night view|
The Museum of the West lived up to it’s reputation, the admission price is good for two days and to really see it all, you need two days. It is so much more than just Buffalo Bill, there are also huge exhibit areas on western art and sculpture, the Indians, Natural History, a Raptor show and an incredible gun collection.
|How Buffalo Bill got his name|
|Romanticized painting of a Buffalo hunt|
|It helps to have the right friends|
|Buffalo Bill became the heroic icon of the west|
|A great Wild West Show poster of Buffalo Bill flying over |
New York City
|Annie Oakley's guns and travel chest|
|Buffalo Bill plays for Queen Victoria in London|
|Native ledger art picture|
The Shoshone River canyon just outside of Cody is beautiful, once had active thermal vents and geysers and there is still a strong sulfur odor there. It is presently inactive or dormant. A section of the original road to the east gate of Yellowstone Park is still there and acessable.
|The Shoshone River outside of Cody|
Buffalo Bill built the Irma Hotel in Cody, named after his daughter Irma, in 1902. He spared no expense in it’s construction and it was considered one of the finest Hotels of its day. It has never closed in all these years and remains a most popular establishment in downtown Cody.
|The Irma Hotel|
|Interior dining room view|
|Interior Bar view|
There was so much more to see in Cody, the daily night rodeo, the mock gunfight downtown (you can reserve your street side chair), the old town area, a guided tour, a couple other museums and many others that we passed up on.
Buffalo Bill died in 1917 and strangely was not buried in his own town, but instead is buried on Lookout Mountain in Golden, Colorado according to his final wishes. I think the town of Cody feels slighted by this, as I saw no mention of this in the museum or anywhere else.
Next stop is Thermopiles, Wyoming,Twinkles and Slick