Thursday, September 30, 2010

North Platte, Nebraska. Buffalo Bill's Home.

After Lincoln, Nebraska, the Hawthornes traveled on to North Platte, Nebraska. North Platte was the home of William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody - the man who made the Wild West world-renowned. No one figure personifies the frontier spirit better than Buffalo Bill, the West's most colorful showman, buffalo hunter, and army scout. Cody, born February 26, 1846, was an American soldier, a bison hunter, and a showman. He got his "Buffalo Bill" nickname after he undertook a contract with the Goddard Brothers, at a lucrative $500 a month, to supply the Kansas Pacific Railroad workers with buffalo meat. He is said to have killed 4280 buffalo within an 8-month period. Cody earned the title/nickname of "Buffalo Bill" in a buffalo hunting contest near Sheridan, Kansas. He out-shot another buffalo hunter, Bill Comstock, shooting 69 buffalo to Comstock's 49. He was a government scout in 1868, headquartered at Fort Larned, Kansas, and performed remarkable endurance rides, once covering 355 miles in 58 hours of day and night riding. From 1968 to 1872, Cody served with the 5th Cavalry in various expeditions against the Indians. He also served as a hunting guide, taking the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia on a hunting trip. He was almost selected to the Nebraska Legislature. All this by age 26. Cody resigned his position as Army Scout to go East in 1872 to star in Ned Buntline's stage play about the frontier, Scouts of the Prairie. He returned to the West in 1876 to serve as a guide into Indian Territory in Wyoming for General George Crook. The stage lured Cody back and he portrayed scenes from the Sioux War until 1878. In 1877, he went into partnership with Luther and Frank North to establish a cattle ranch 65 miles north of North Platte on the Dismal River. He purchased a home and 160 acres in North Platte in 1878 which became the foundation for his later 4000 acre ranch. He served as a soldier in the Civil War and as chief of Scouts for the 3rd Cavalry during the Plains Wars. He worked as a trapper, a bullwhacker, a "fifty-niner" in Colorado, a Pony Express rider in 1860, a wagon master, a stagecoach driver, and even a hotel manager. He became world famous for his Wild West tour. Cody began his colorful career at the age of 11, when he signed on as an bullwhacker, or ox-team driver, for 50 cents a day. At the age of 13, he hired on as an extra or messenger boy for the Russell, Waddell, and Majors westbound bull train. (Russell, Waddell, and Majors were the three gentlemen who organized the Pony Express.) In 1858, he became an assistant wagon master on the bull train headed for fort Laramie, where he joined a party of trappers on the Chugwater River. In 1859, Cody joined the gold rush to Pike's Peak, Colorado, and in 1860, he became one of the youngest Pony Express riders on the line at age fourteen. He once rode 322 miles in 21 hours, 40 minutes, exhausting 20 horses. Although too young to enlist in the army during the early years of the Civil War, he did serve in the Union forces as ranger, dispatch bearer, and scout in Missouri, Kansas, and the Sante Fe Trail. In 1864, Cody enlisted in the Kansas Volunteer Infantry and served until the end of the Civil War. After the war, he drove a stage between Fort Kearny and Plum Creek. Buffalo Bill's legacy lives on at his elegant Victorian home in North Platte on a 4000 acre spread that Cody called Scout's Rest Ranch. The house was built during the heyday of Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, which started as a 4th of July show in North Platte, Nebraska. In 1882, the town of North Platte, where Cody lived at his Scout's Rest Ranch, asked Cody to put a show on for them to celebrate the 4th of July. Cody obliged and put on what has been considered to be one of the first rodeos in America, called the "Old Glory Blowout." The show was so successful, it gave Cody the idea for his Wild West show, "Buffalo Bill's Wild West." It was first presented in Columbus, Nebraska, and continued to tour the world for many years, up until the start of World War I. It was the most successful touring show of all time. From 1883-1886, Cody toured the US with his Wild West show. In 1887, he took the show on a triumphant tour of England. In 1889, he again toured and enthralled Europe. Buffalo Bill's "Wild West played adjacent to Chicago's World Fair in 1893, and in 1896 he founded the town of Cody, Wyoming. In 1900, Cody went into partnership with James A Bailey of Barnum & Bailey and in 1902, an enlarged show again toured Europe. Cody's last public appearance was in Portsmouth, Virginia, November 11, 1916. Cody died two months later, January 10, 1917, at his sister's home in Denver. His last words were purported to be, "Let my show go on." The house was built in 1886 and his huge barn built in 1887, sitting now on 287 acres of what was originally a 4000-acre spread that Cody called Scout's Rest Ranch. Cody spent most of the winter months here and his large barn housed much of the show's stock. The house, built for $3900, served as a resting place for many famous people, actors, businessmen, royalty, army officers, show performers, and friends of Cody. The large barn provided a display place for wagons and carriages, photos of Indians, Wild West performers, the Cody family, and Wild West show memorabilia, including original posters, a movie made of film clips taken when his show was touring throughout Europe, and tack for his horses.
Please enjoy the pictures of his home. Unfortunately, no photographs were allowed inside.
Cob house used for storing corn cobs. Ice house for storing ice packed in straw. Spring house for storing foods that needed to be kept cool.
The large barn.
Brother Hawthorne, I shot the pictures of all the tack for you.
Wagons for you too, Brother Hawthorne.
Barbed wire.
I found lots of turkey feathers on the grounds.
I'm taking them home with me.

1 comment:

Marilyn said...

Very interesting. Too bad they don't allow photography inside. I don't get the ban on that as long as flash is not used.

Like the turkey feathers. I have one I picked up from a visitor from our yard.