The life of one of my inspirations as I prepare to start an exciting new adventure……………….
Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale
Welcome back. Buffalo Bill Cody was a plainsman, hunter, scout, Indian fighter and showman. He was born in Iowa on February 26, 1845 and as a boy he crossed the plains many times working with bull trains. In his teens Cody was a Pony Express rider before moving on to a job with Overland Express as a stage coach driver. Eventually he became the boss of several wagon trains going west where they encountered hostile Indian tribes on a regular basis. During the Civil War Cody served as a scout for the Union Army and according to his autobiography later worked as a trapper and a guide.
Letters written by the Army officers Cody worked for praise his courage and also speak of his good manners and strong sense of honor. His skill as a buffalo hunter earned him his nick name and by 1873 he had become a star on Broadway. However Cody was always anxious to get back to the western plains and after his son Kit Carson Cody died in childhood he accepted a position as a guide and Chief of Scouts for the 5th Calvary. A battle with eight hundred Cheyenne and a dual with the famed Indian warrior Yellow Hand made Buffalo Bill a hero in the eyes of people around the country. Over the next few years he continued his life of adventure scouting for steamships, working as a dispatch carrier and even appearing on Broadway. By 1878 he had purchased a large farm in Platte, Nebraska and a cattle ranch near North Platte where he could have settled down with his loving family but he was too restless to stay put for long. Soon he took on another scouting job followed by more appearances with a “Wild West Exhibition” as he called it. These pursuits would keep him in the saddle until the end of his life in 1917.
Today the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave is on Lookout Mountain just outside of Denver. Cody particularly wanted to be buried here because you can see for miles around from this spot. As the wind blows off the continental divide and you smell the ponderosa pine, you can almost sense his presence. This is a great place to visit and learn the life of a true frontiersman and a way of life in the old west that is long gone.
The life of this amazing man and mine will intertwine starting in January as I travel down many of the same trails that Buffalo Bill followed from his burial place on the continental divide across the Great Plains of Wyoming and into Montana. Cody also loved the cattle business and the stories about him and his partner Major Frank North, who was also the commander of the renowned Pawnee scouts, are legendary in North Platte. I’ll be taking you there as well.
New York City where Cody appeared on Broadway to great acclaim, along with a visit to his closest relatives, is also on tap.
No doubt I will face some of the same dangers and challenges that Bill faced, although not from hostile Indians. In Bill’s day he traveled thousands of miles through rough country on horseback, sleeping under the stars or in a wagon. Hunting for food and water took up a good part of every day. In my case I will be crossing the country in a motorhome, foraging for food at roadside markets and passing the night by the side of the road or in a campground. It will be an exciting new adventure for me and I’ll be bringing you stories from both the past and the present along the way. This is a trip that Buffalo Bill took a lifetime to complete on horseback. As for me, you’ll just have to stay tuned to find out.
Till next week, I’ll see ya down the road………………