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Where To Go Next for Tuesday, April 1


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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

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Buffalo Bill: Drama, Drive, Politics

(Part One of a Two-Part Series)

It is a good thing Yellowstone Country is big, because only a huge area would have been able to accommodate the big dreams – and in some cases equally big egos – of the men and women who shaped this part of Wyoming into one of today’s top Western travel destinations.

Humans started visiting this area more than 10,000 years ago, but winters were too severe for the early residents. And then came John Colter, a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition who later returned to the area more than 200 years ago for further exploration. The famous explorer set up a lucrative beaver fur trade in the early 1800s.

Though the area saw numerous explorers come and go through the next century, it wasn’t until the arrival of an Iowan with a distinctive beard that things really got interesting: Buffalo Bill Cody, the Maverick.

Born William Frederick Cody in 1846, by the age of 22 Buffalo Bill had tried his hand – and was usually successful – as a trapper, bullwhacker, Pony Express Rider, Colorado “Fifty-Niner,” wagon master, stagecoach driver, Civil War soldier, hotel manager and scout for the U.S. army. And he was just getting started.

Buffalo Bill's Wild West, the entertainment that made William Frederick Cody the most famous man in the world.

The lanky, good-looking outdoorsman was at heart a showman. In 1872, he launched the career for which he would become famous – playing himself in a show that evolved into “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show” and eventually made him one of the most famous people in the world. He even caught the attention of royalty. In 1887, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West was the main attraction at Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee celebration, and the show continued to tour throughout Europe for years.

Bill had very long coattails, and his show brought other Western characters to the forefront of America’s imagination – from Annie “Little Sure Shot” Oakley to Sitting Bull. He was also a champion of the people, supporting children’s rights and women’s rights. And he was a cagey businessman.


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