My Denver adventure last year included a stop at the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave. It’s on Lookout Mountain near Golden and just a few miles off I-70 west of Denver.
It’s not a large museum but they have packed in a lot of stuff and I learned some things. There was even a nice little exhibit about Annie Oakley who was from Ohio.
Buffalo Bill Cody was a character. A Pony Express rider by fifteen, he went on to do many, many things. He served the Union during the Civil War and was a civilian Army Scout during the Indian Wars. He was even awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. His work as a skilled Buffalo hunter gained him the nickname Buffalo Bill.
He quickly became a legendary figure of the American west.
So it should come as no surprise that he founded Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in 1883, touring the country with his large company of performers and animals.
The man toured with hundreds of horses, men, women and actual live buffalos. Transporting the set, props and this crew was no small accomplishment. A 52 car train was used to haul it all.
The above image shows the 1883 cast of his show. You can buy this picture in the museum gift shop.
There are so many interesting things about this guy that I don’t even know where to begin.
The thing I like best about him is that he was a champion of women. Given that his life spanned from 1846 to 1917, this is remarkable. His ideas toward equal pay and women’s suffrage were quite shocking to many.
He was quoted saying “If a woman can do the same work that a man can do and do it just as well, she should have the same pay.”
Given that in 2020, women made .81 for every dollar earned by a man, Buffalo Bill was a man ahead of his time.
He also believed in the fair treatment of the American Indian and other ethnic and racial groups – another idea that was unpopular with our government and civilians alike. He had participated in more than a dozen fights against the Indians but believed they deserved fair treatment.
His Wild West show cross crossed the country for years and even went to Europe. The museum has a book that lists all the cities and dates the show performed. I learned they were in my own area many times, including small towns like Chillicothe, Circleville, Jackson, Hillsboro, Ironton and Marietta as well as Ohio’s larger cities.
Buffalo Bill died in 1917 while visiting his sister in Denver. His family said that he always wanted to be buried on Lookout Mountain. He died in January so he wasn’t actually buried until June when thousands of mourners came for an open casket viewing. Yes, rather gruesome, I know.
There was a contingency that believed he should be buried in Cody, Wyoming, the town that he founded. At one point the Cody chapter of the American Legion allegedly offered a reward for the return of his body to their town.
The museum is well done. There’s a gift shop on site as well. It smells of tourist trap but they do have some good stuff packed in there including a cafe where you can grab a meal or snack. From here you can follow a paved path up a hill to visit his grave.
They encourage photography, have clean restrooms, picnic tables and an observation deck to enjoy the view from Lookout Mountain which is 7,375 feet tall.
It’s well worth the $5 price of admission. Want to learn more about Buffalo Bill or plan a visit? Visit them online.