|Old saddle tree|
Old Trail Town.
I'd seen it from the road and it looked like a tourist trap but Old Trail Town, the original site of Buffalo Bill's Cody City, turned out to be well worth the effort.
|Hole in the Wall Gang's cabin.|
And what buildings - 24 cabins of trappers and outlaws, a saloon, store, school, carpenter shop, livery barn, mayor's home, all equipped with the appropriate used, abused, rusting fittings. Dating from 1880 to 1901, their weathered boards, timbers and fogged glass panes silently testifying to a hard scrabble existence survived only by the hardy and often devious.
Johnson, the trapper made famous by
Robert Redford; buffalo hunter Jim White; scout James Stilwell; trapper Phillip Vetter, who met his demise at the claws of a grizzly bear; W. A. Gallagher and Blind Bill, cowboys murdered in 1894; and the murdered Belle "Lady in Blue" Drewry.
Old West Miniature Village & Museum
Plains Indian bull boat.
In a labor of love, Jerry "Eagle Speaker" Fick created an enormous - possibly the largest in the U. S. - miniature diorama of the battles for Montana and Wyoming, 66 meticulously researched scenes in all each with an audio for a self-guided trip through history.
Jerry "Eagle Speaker" Fick
More interesting to me were the exhibits surrounding the diorama. Fick, a Native American, found his first arrowhead at the age of 12 and has been collecting ever since. From family artifacts to healers' bags from the Grand Medicine Society of the Great Lakes Indians, weapons, period clothing, tools and weapons from all across the country add up to a museum-quality assemblage.
It took three large and one medium-sized beaver skins to buy this blanket (you can tell by the black marks on the upper right).
You'll see the tripod used by the surveyor who laid out the canals Buffalo Bill had dug to bring water year-round to his city, pictures of Jessie James from his niece, a bull boat made from the hide of a bull buffalo and willow in which the Plains Indians navigated rivers.
Known to locals as Tecumseh's, if Fick is around forget the rest of your schedule and spend as much time absorbing his wealth of knowledge as he's willing to give. You won't be sorry.
Dug Up Gun Museum
The name got me. Planned only to stop in, glance around and leave, but 90 minutes later I was still in this upstairs room on a downtown Cody side street fascinated by founder Hans Kurth's histories of the guns, bullets, sabers, clothes and photos in this array of the literally "found".
It is all fodder for the imagination from the broken Springfield carbine found at the Wounded Knee battle site to a flintlock pistol from the infamous Civil War battle at Cold Harbor. Kurth's enthusiasm and encyclopedic knowledge is addictive.
A good introduction to it all, old and contemporary, is an hour on the pet-friendly Cody Trolley Tours trolley. As they say, "Give us an hour, we'll give you 100 years."
Actually it's more than 100 years.