This Day in History

1883:  William F. Cody (Buffalo Bill) presents his first Wild West Show.

Buffalo Bill's Grave on Lookout Mountain overlooking Denver.

Best Colorado Day Trip for people from Iowa – Buffalo Bill's Grave, Lookout Mountain

As all Iowa teenagers know, life in the Midwest can be totally boring. In a world full of attractions, it’s hard to keep the kids down on the farm. Back in 1857, a farmer’s life of toil from sunup to sundown held little interest for William Frederick Cody. So at the age of eleven, the Iowa native hired on as a scout for the railroad. In short order, he earned the nickname “Buffalo” Bill for the sharpshooting skills he employed to clear the rails of those magnificent beasts of his namesake.

Later, as a frontiersman, he led wealthy businessmen and European royalty on hunting trips throughout the West. He was a natural showman and decided to create his own spectacular, called “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.” The theatrical re-enactments included battles, hunts, shooting displays, trick roping and races between people and animals. The show was as much entertainment as it was an effort to preserve the disappearing myth of the West as it brought it to life.

In 1894, Denver newspaperman Henry Tammen tricked Cody into signing a contract that handed over complete control of the Wild West Show and kept Cody on as a mere employee and salaried attraction. As bad as that sounds, in 1917 Tammen strong-armed Cody’s widow into burying her husband’s remains in a park west of Denver, against his wishes to be laid to rest in Cody, Wyoming. Iowans can visit the site of their native son on Lookout Mountain. The grave overlooks the city that forces him in death, as in life, to toil from sunup to sundown as a tourist attraction.