Thursday, November 26, 2009

Buffalo Bill

As I returned from skiing in Arapahoe Basin last May, I stopped at Lookout Mountain, the gravesite of Buffalo Bill Cody and his wife Louisa. Like Custer, Cody had a storied life in the Old West, and also like Custer, was adept at promoting his exploits into greater fame and fortune.

Cody left home at the tender age of 11, working in Utah and other western territories in various jobs until the outbreak of the Civil War including being a rider in the storied Pony Express. In 1863 he enlisted in the Union Army as a private and was discharged at the end of the war in 1865, After the war Cody held various jobs, among them hunting freelance for the Kansas Pacific Railroad, he killed over 4,800 American Bison in less than a year. He also served as a hunting guide for well heeled tenderfoots from the east and overseas. He also was a freelance scout for the Army, and was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1872 for "gallantry in action" while scout for the 3rd Cavalry Regiment. This medal, along with over 900 others was revoked by Congress in 1917 as not meeting a high enough standard for such as prestigious award. It was re-instated in 1989 (probably more because of Cody's fame than for the actual deeds surrounding his getting it).

Buffalo Bill's greatest legacy of course was not anything that he accomplished in the Old West, but in keeping alive the image of the Old West with his Wild West Show that toured the country and later the world. Sort of a Western Circus with staged battles between the Indians and the Cavalry, and feats of marksmanship by the likes of Annie Oakley. He also fought for conservation of the near extinct American Bison, Native American rights, and the rights of women.

This is the view of the Rockies from Lookout Mountain. Only a few hours earlier I was skiing there and now, several thousand feet below it is 80 degrees.

To the east, the city of Denver. Possibly my future home someday?

 A plaque with some background information on the site.

 Bill and his wife Louisa at rest. It is an Indian custom to throw coins on the graves.

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