Thursday found me in Denver on a personal errand: getting some maintenance done on my Mini. The dealership kindly gave me a loaner car and, since I had several hours to kill, I decided to visit Buffalo Bill's grave in Golden, west of Denver. Every time I take I-70 to get to the mountains (usually to shoot a wedding in Vail, Keystone or some other ski resort), I pass the sign that marks the turnoff for Buffalo Bill's grave. I have lived in Colorado for decades and have never taken that off ramp. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but for some reason I thought Buffalo Bill's grave would be a shabby, weedy and depressing old mound with trash strewn about and graffiti on the gravestone. Boy did I ever have the wrong idea! I was pleasantly surprised to find that, in addition to his meticulously maintained grave, there is a wonderful, comprehensive museum dedicated to the life and times of Buffalo Bill. Of course I checked it out!
If you don't know who William "Buffalo Bill" Cody is, take a minute to read THIS wiki on him. He was a fascinating character, almost singlehandedly responsible for the romantic myth of the American cowboy. Willam Cody's varied career began with the Pony Express as a young teen. During the Civil War, he fought for the Union, then served as a civilian scout for the U.S. Army during the Indian wars. Eventually his experiences as a famed buffalo hunter (the origin of his nickname), scout, soldier, gold prospector and other exploits led him to create his world famous Wild West tour. Much like a circus, Buffalo Bill's Wild West traveled around the country, entertaining the masses with fantastic shows and reenactments. It was a huge undertaking, featuring famous names like Annie Oakley and Chief Sitting Bull, among others. Buffalo Bill included a number of Indian acts in his show. There was even a "village", where patrons could step inside a teepee and see how the Indians lived. Some might think of this as exploitative, but in fact Buffalo Bill had a great deal of respect for his Indian coworkers, and considered them his friends and equals.
Buffalo Bill's Wild West was so popular, it even toured Europe. It made him a worldwide celebrity. To this day, the name Buffalo Bill conjures up images of the wild, wild west. I really enjoyed the museum. It was fascinating! There were so many personal artifacts, historical records, playbills and photos, and a wealth of information about the man. It's definitely worthwhile to take that off ramp!
Chief Sitting Bull's headdress.
According to these records, Buffalo Bill's Wild West came to Colorado Springs six times!
In the 1940s, a popular Broadway musical called "Annie Get Your Gun" was created about Wild West performer Annie Oakley. When I saw this record, I immediately thought of THIS catchy little song by an old favorite, Squeeze.
To learn more about the Buffalo Bill Museum and grave site, visit their site HERE. I'll show you my pictures of the actual grave on Monday.