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Buffalo Bill’s Grave, Part 2: National Guard Called Out To Protect Buffalo Bill’s Body

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This is the second part of a two-part series about Buffalo Bill Cody’s gravesite. Part one can be found here.

By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

In January of 1917, the citizens of Cody, Wyoming, were devastated to find out that their town’s founder, namesake and hero, Col. William F. Cody, had died of kidney failure while visiting his sister in Denver, Colorado.

But in the weeks following his death, their grief turned to anger as details emerged about how Cody’s wife, Louisa, had “sold” Bill’s body to the publishers of the Denver Post so the famous showman could be laid to rest in Colorado… capitalizing on the Western showman’s fame.

Bob Richard, noted Cody historian and author, told Cowboy State Daily that Louisa met with the mayor of Denver, along with the two owners of the Denver Post, Harry Tammen and Frederick Bonfils, shortly after her husband passed.

“After much discussion, and she has to catch the train at 11 o’clock, the mayor said, ‘I’ll give you $10,000,’” Richard said. “And that’s when the publisher said, ‘And here’s another $10,000, that’s $20,000 – if we can have his body and find a place and have a proper burial here.’ She says, ‘He’s all yours,’ and took the money and put it in her big bag. And then they hurried her very quickly to Union Station and got her on the train. 

“And she came back to Cody,” Richard continued, “and all of Cody – or a big portion – met the train across the way at the Burlington Cody Inn, and they waited for the baggage door to open, and it didn’t open. And they said, ‘Where’s Bill?’ She says, ‘I sold him,’ and got in the carriage. But the $20,000 in today’s dollars would be about $490,000 in value.” 

Switched Bodies

That’s when – according to the tale told to Richard by his grandfather, Fred, Fred’s brother-in-law Ned Frost and the Cody mortician John Vogel – a plan was hatched to go to Denver and switch bodies — Bill’s for a dead ranch hand who bore a striking resemblance to Bill.

According to legend, the plan was a success, and the three men buried Col. Cody where his 1906 will had requested, atop Cedar Mountain overlooking the town that he founded.

But, Richard said, in an effort to throw anyone off the trail, Vogel, Fred Richard and Frost created a very elaborate diversion as soon as they returned from burying Cody.

“They turned the horses in, and then went and showered, and then Ned, Fred and John hit every bar and club in Cody, commenting how Cody folks should go down to Denver and bring back Bill’s body,” Richard said, “never mentioning that he was already here.”

Richard said for three nights the men riled up their fellow townspeople, urging them to caravan to Denver to reclaim their beloved Buffalo Bill.

“On Friday, everybody in Cody got in a bunch of cars,” he said. “And I’ve heard 400, I’ve heard 100 – with three or four armed men. And as soon as they left town, Vogel got on the phone and called (Denver mortician John) Olinger and said, ‘Cody people armed to the teeth are coming down to steal Bill’s body.’”

Richard said the Denver mortician notified Denver’s mayor and the publishers of the Denver Post, asking for direction.

“And the mayor said, ‘Well, we’re negotiating on Lookout Mountain’ (for a burial location),” Richard said. “‘We’ll get it dug and get him buried today.’ So Olinger took the cadaver up there and they announced that there was going to be a burial, and notified Louisa and all the powers that be, and they quickly laid him to rest.”

Call Out The National Guard

But there was the matter of the mob that was at that moment driving to Colorado. So Richard said the powerful Denver contingent made a decision.

“They knew the Cody people were coming, so they sent the National Guard up to the Colorado/Wyoming border and repelled everybody,” Richard said. “So (the Cody caravan) went back to Cheyenne, and they called John Vogel and said, ‘John, the Army stopped us. We can’t even get into Colorado.’ And Vogel says, ‘Men, you’ve done your job well, come back, and we’re going to have a big party at the Irma.’”

While the historical record doesn’t quite match up to the tale Richard’s grandfather and uncle told him, a similar scenario actually did play out in 1948.

According to an article posted on the Denver Public Library’s website, that was the year that the Colorado National Guard was called to stand guard over the Lookout Mountain grave site after American Legion members in Cody offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who could steal Cody’s body. 

The article also reported that in 2006, Wyoming legislators debated (jokingly) about mounting a “clandestine” effort to retrieve Buffalo Bill’s body.

No matter where the frontiersman, investor, entertainer and visionary is actually buried, the legacy of Col. William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody remains as vibrant today as it was 100 years ago, as even years after his death and burial, he continued to make headlines.

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The Question Persists: Where Is Buffalo Bill Really Buried?

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

He was, without question, the most famous man of his day.  Col. William F. Cody, better known to the world as “Buffalo Bill,” brought the mystique and adventure of the Wild West to everyday people around the globe in the decades surrounding the turn of the 20th century.

But the community of Cody, his favorite part of the world, the town that bears his name, the place in which his 1906 will directed that he be buried — was not his final resting place.

Or was it?

Bob Richard is an author and historian from Cody. Last week, Richard presented a theory at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West that perhaps Buffalo Bill isn’t really buried on Lookout Mountain in Colorado.

Instead he theorized, the western showman’s body may have been stolen by Richard’s grandfather and two accomplices as part of a bold plot to bury  Bill’s body where he wished – at the top of Cedar Mountain overlooking the town he founded. 

Worldwide Fame

William Cody was many things in his storied life – as a young man, he rode for the Pony Express; he was an Indian scout and buffalo hunter for the railroad (hence his nickname, “Buffalo Bill”) who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Cody rose to worldwide fame as the star of thousands of dime novels romanticizing his exploits in the Wild West. He capitalized on that fame when he created “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show,” which toured across the United States and in Europe in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

And although he made a tidy sum of money with his Wild West Show  entertaining celebrities such as Queen Victoria of England and appearing at venues such as the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893, Cody’s investments and spending habits soon ate through his savings.

“Buffalo Bill is in his prime in the late 1880s and 90s,” said Margie Johnson, who with her husband Mike has researched Cody’s history extensively. “He’s traveling the world, he’s promoted by the papers of the day, he’s going to country after country after country. He’s raking in the money.” 

Because he now had the ability to finance large projects, Cody, by the early 1900s, had thrown himself into a grand venture – creating the community that bears his name near the east entrance to Yellowstone National Park. He and his partners formed the Shoshone Land and Irrigation Company, acquiring water rights from the Shoshone River to irrigate 60,000 acres. 

Cody’s vision included the construction of the 325-foot-high Buffalo Bill Dam, one of the first concrete arch dams built in the United States and the highest dam in the world at the time of its completion in 1910.

Cody’s Will

It was during this time that Cody recorded his first will, written in 1906, which explicitly laid out instructions as to where he wished to be buried.

“It is my wish and I hereby direct that my body shall be buried in some suitable plot of ground on Cedar Mountain,” the will read, “overlooking the town of Cody, Wyoming, in order that my mortal remains shall lie in close proximity to that fair section of my native Country which bears my name, and in the growth and development of which I have taken so deep and loving an interest, and to which wheresoever and to whatever parts of the earth I have wandered I have always longed to return.”

“In (1906), he’s flush. He’s happy,” said Margie, “but he’s miserable with (wife) Louisa. He tries to get divorce and she won’t have it… but he makes his will at some time in that year.” 

Cody and his wife had had a contentious relationship for most of their married lives. Cody’s 1906 will bequeathed Louisa with very little of his vast land holdings.

However, money became seriously tight between 1910 and 1917, according to Richard, who said Cody made a fateful decision to take a loan out from the owners of the Denver Post, Harry Tammen and Frederick Bonfils.

“In (1912), he borrowed the money, it was $20,000 from Tammen and (Bonfills),” said Mike Johnson. “He couldn’t pay it back, and went to work for them on other shows.”

“He had a lot of property, but he was cash poor,” said Margie. “The Denver Post people were holding him in servitude. He was broke, and he went to them and borrowed money from them – I think it was $10,000 – to put the Wild West Show into storage, and he couldn’t pay it. So basically they made him work for them in substandard productions just to pay off that, and he was embarrassed.”

The Truce

It was during this period that Cody and his wife apparently called a truce, according to the Johnsons.  

“He changed his will in (1913) and he and Louisa apparently reconciled,” Mike said. “So now she’s in charge. She gets everything.”

When Cody fell seriously ill at the end of 1917, his finances were in disarray. And while a guest at his sister’s house in Denver, Colorado, the showman passed away on Dec. 10, 1917.

“He was laid in-state both at the (Denver) Elks club and the Capitol,” said Richard. “And 25,000 people attended his being in-state at one place or the other.”

Because of Cody’s financial debts, despite his express wishes to be buried on Cedar Mountain overlooking his town in the Rockies, Louisa was convinced by Cody’s debtors, Denver Post owners Tammen and Bonfils, to allow Cody to be buried near Denver instead.

“The mayor and the owners of the Denver Post met with Louisa, but she turned them down and said ‘No, he’s not for sale,’” Richard said. “And they said, ‘We want to take you to breakfast and talk about it and see if we can work out a deal.’”

By the end of breakfast, Louisa had changed her mind.

“‘(We’ll give you) $20,000 if we can have his body, and find a place, and have a proper burial here,’” is how Richard said the conversation went. “She says, ‘He’s all yours,’ and took the money and put it in her big bag. And then they hurried her very quickly to the Union Station and got her on the train, and she came back to Cody.”

Richard said that sum of money would have allowed Louisa to pay her husband’s bills and meet the obligations that he had been committed to.

But that’s where the official record ends – and the legend begins. 

Rubber Bag Full Of Ice

Richard said the following tale was told to him by John Vogel, Ned Frost and his grandfather, from the time he was a young boy:

“John Vogel, the undertaker in Cody had a rancher south of Cody bring in a ranch hand that had died, and this was in late January,” Richard said. “And John proceeded to look at the cadaver, and he went and got some scissors and trimmed up his beard and his mustache, and went over to his phone, and he called Fred Richard (Bob’s grandfather) and Ned Frost (Fred’s brother in law, both were friends of Bill Cody’s). He says, ‘Boys, we’re going to Denver, we’re going to trade bodies. I’ve got a cadaver here, and I think we can pass him off for Bill.’”

So, Richard said, the three came into town that night and left early the next morning, putting the cowboy in a rubber bag full of ice in the back of a Packard for the two-day trip to Denver.

“When they got there, they went directly to the mortuary and met with Ohlinger (the mortician) because Vogel knew him,” Richard said. “Then they said ‘We’d like to see Bill,’ and he said, ‘Sure, we’ve got him down under the stairs because that’s the coolest place.’ And when the men went down, Fred, Ned and Vogel pulled Bill out and looked in, and said ‘Yep, sure enough, that’s Bill.’”

Richard said that after dinner that night, the three men went back to the mortuary, went down the steps, and exchanged the bodies.

“They carried Bill up, put him in the iced rubber bag back in the car, and they were gassed up and headed out of town,” Richard said. 

He explained that when the men arrived back in Cody, they transported the body to an undisclosed location at the top of Cedar Mountain, where they buried their friend.

Could The Switch Have Happened?

In all the years Richard has relayed this tale, questions inevitably arise. Could the switch have happened? Wouldn’t anyone have noticed that the body in the Denver mortuary did not look exactly like the man who was possibly the most recognizable person in the world?

“It could have been done,” said Mike Johnson, who several years ago walked through the mortuary, which still exists as it did in 1917. “The crypt room was big enough to pull the casket out, take the body out, change clothing, change bodies, do it all in the crypt room, slide the wrong guy back in the casket and take the rubber bag out the door. So the answer is yes. It could have happened.”

The official record, though, is that Buffalo Bill Cody is buried on Lookout Mountain near Golden, Colorado. Bill’s foster son, Johnny Baker, oversaw the formation of a visitor’s center at the site of Cody’s memorial, which still stands today.

But the Johnsons, who have kept the legend of Bill’s burial alive through the business they founded in the early 2000s, Cody Trolley Tours, would like to see the showman’s 1906 will fulfilled. Even if Cody’s body really is buried on Lookout Mountain, the Johnsons said the townspeople of the community that bears his name could honor the 1906 request of the man whose larger-than-life presence is still felt today.

“I further direct that there shall be erected over my grave, to mark the spot where my body lies, a monument wrought from native Red stone in the form of a mammoth Buffalo,” Cody’s 1906 will read, “and placed in such a position as to be visible from the town, in order that it may be a constant reminder to my fellow citizens that it was the great wish of its founder that Cody should not only grow in prosperity and become a populous and influential metropolis, but that it should be distinguished for the purity of its government and the loyalty of its citizens to the institution of our beloved Country.”  

“The whole town is built on his back,” said Mike Johnson. “But (the monument) never happened. And it shouldn’t be a difficult thing, it’s an issue of engineering. It’s windy up there. But once it’s engineered, it’s just a matter of money. It should really be somebody just taking charge of it.”

There is a fiberglass statue of a buffalo on top of Cedar Mountain, which was given to the community by the city of Golden, Colorado, where Buffalo Bill is officially said to be buried, as a sort of peace offering in the tug-of-war between the two cities.

Even without the buffalo statue Cody requested in his 1906 will, the city of Cody has definitely paid tribute to its founder. 

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s bronze statue “The Scout” features prominently at the west end of Cody’s main street, Sheridan Avenue. Cody’s likeness can be found on business signs; the famous Buffalo Bill Center of the West is the town’s primary tourist attraction, where visitors can find out more about Cody’s legacy.

“His spirit is in this town,” said Margie Johnson. “The creativity. Look what Buffalo Bill did with his life.”

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Delta Stops Cody Airport Service Because Of Pilot Shortage; Air Service Cut In Half

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Flights in and out of Cody’s Yellowstone Regional Airport will be reduced by nearly half this summer, due to a shortage of available pilots.

Airport Manager Aaron Buck said a shortage of pilots has caused Delta Airlines to cancel all of its planned flights between Cody and Salt Lake City, leaving only United Airlines and its flights to and from Denver as the only service to the airport.

“We will have four flights a day that are coming in, and four flights out,” Buck told Cowboy State Daily. “And then in July, it looks like there’ll be some days that are four and some days that are just three.”

This summer’s schedule will be significantly less active than what the airport has seen in the past.

“You know, last year we had seven flights a day on Saturdays,” Buck said. “We won’t have anything close to that this year.” 

Last summer, Delta offered up to two flights a day between Cody and Salt Lake from early May to October, making up around 25% of YRA’s total flights.

“It’s going to be about 400 seats less per week that we get to get in,” said Buck. “So if you think about it that way, rather than just flights, you know, it’s about 400 less seats during that time frame during August and July.”

The airline announced in January that it was going to cut back its flights by 25%, due to pandemic-related staffing issues that saw thousands of Delta pilots take early retirement, as well as disruptions caused by training schedules. 

YRA has seen record numbers of enplanements so far this year – January, February and March saw the highest number of travelers ever flying out of Cody’s airport; 2,055, 2,044 and 2,623, respectively.

As a result, Delta’s cancellation comes as a blow, Buck said.

“What’s unfortunate about it so far, is January, February, March, April, have all been up,” he said. “And so we’re having a banner year, but we don’t have a banner year of flights in the summer.” 

Buck pointed out that the cancellation of daily flights between Cody and Salt Lake City will have a negative economic impact.

“It will greatly affect the income of the airport directly,” he said. “It also will affect the income of the community a little bit as far as the number of people. I mean, 400 less people a week that can get access to Cody through the airport.”

A factor working in Cody’s favor, however, is the fact that the Jackson airport will be closed through the middle of June for runway repairs – so some travelers who would have flown into Jackson will be coming to Cody instead.

“They added one flight a day to us that would have been going to Jackson during that time,” Buck said. “They have a significant runway closure that’s going on there. But yeah, we have an extra flight a day during Ma, because of that. 

“So we’re still going to have a really strong April and a really strong May, and even a really strong June compared to last year,” he continued. “Some of the extra flights that we’re missing are going to be in our July, August timeframe.”

Ryan Hauck, Executive Director for the Park County Travel Council, said the pilot shortage is just another impact that the COVID pandemic has had on the country’s economy.

“That’s the next ripple effect from what COVID did,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “First, it was no travel, then last year, it was staffing, and this year, it is lack of pilots.”

But Hauck pointed out that most people come to Cody by car, rather than plane, so the lack of plane traffic may not have much of an effect on the local businesses that rely on tourism.

“Luckily for us, we have always been a very heavy drive market,” he said. “So I will tell you, talking with Yellowstone, talking with the hoteliers here, demand is still coming. We are still on point to have an amazing year this year.”

And Buck noted that next year should be back to normal when it comes to airline traffic in Cody.

“I don’t imagine that we’ll have trouble getting it back once there’s pilots to fly on planes,” he said.

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Yellowstone Actor Cole Hauser To Lead Cody’s Stampede Parade

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Cole Hauser, a star in the television show “Yellowstone,” will serve as grand marshal for the Cody Stampede Parade on July 4.

Stampede Parade officials announced this week that Hauser had agreed to headline the annual parade, sparking a storm of social media commentary.

“This is the best news I’ve heard all year,” commented one Facebook user.

Mack Frost, president of the Stampede Parade Committee, told Cowboy State Daily that Hauser’s appearance comes thanks to his association with a Cody resident.

“(Cody resident) Jim Dager is associated with Cole Hauser in the Special Operations Warrior Foundation,” said Mack Frost, president of the Stampede Parade Committee. “Cole has recently become a member of the board, and Jim Dager has been one of their ambassadors.”

The Special Operations Warrior Foundation provides support for the families of fallen members of special operations forces.

Frost said one of the members of the Stampede Parade Committee who knew of Dager’s association with Hauser asked if Hauser might consider serving as grand marshal for this year’s parade.

“Cole is coming down here at Jim’s invitation to attend a benefit dinner (for the Warrior Foundation) that Jim is going to hold at his place,” Frost said.

“And as long as he was going to be here, they asked him if he would be willing to do the stint as our grand marshal. He said ‘You bet, be happy to do it.’ He just asked us to keep it quiet until about now,” he said.

Hauser’s leading role in “Yellowstone,” set in Montana on a fictitious ranch in the Yellowstone National Park region, has brought him into the spotlight, although his family background is one of Hollywood royalty.

His mother, Cass Warner, is the granddaughter of film mogul Harry Warner, a co-founder of Warner Bros.; his father is actor Wings Hauser, who appeared in television shows including “Murder, She Wrote” and “Roseanne,” and his paternal grandfathers were Hollywood screenwriters.

Social media has been buzzing about the news since it was announced at a chamber luncheon on Monday. 

“So excited! We will be there for sure,” wrote one Facebook user.

“Might have to change our holiday for this!” wrote another.

Frost said that Hauser won’t be making any additional public appearances once his stint as grand marshal is over, but the thousands of people who line up each year to see the parade will be able to get a glimpse of the famous actor.

Hauser’s credits also include roles in the films “School Ties,” “Dazed and Confused,” “Hart’s War,” “Tears of the Sun,” and “2 Fast 2 Furious,” prior to his very popular turn as the character “Rip” in the Paramount series “Yellowstone.”

Frost pointed out that there hasn’t been a celebrity grand marshal in the parade for a few years now.

“The last celebrities we had were (Robert) Taylor and his sidekick (Adam Bartley, both actors in the TV series Longmire),” said Frost. “They were the last celebrities we had,” and that was in 2017.

Other grand marshals of previous Cody Stampede Parades include Chuck Yeager, John Wayne, Gary Cooper, champion bullfighter Dusty Tuckness, Wilford Brimley, Dennis Weaver and Steven Seagal.

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Cody Builds Six 150mph Wind-Proof Geodesic Domes

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Cody is a western town. 

Every step through the community reveals a town steeped in western history — including the Chamber of Commerce building modeled after the home of western showman William “Buffalo Bill” Cody.

So a collection of clear geodesic domes poses a stark contrast to the rustic log cabin the rest beside.

The other-worldly “Cody Visitor Center Domes” are the result of efforts by the Park County Travel Council to create attractive public spaces and entice visitors to stay in Cody a little longer. 

“We’re always looking for ways to keep people more overnights in Cody-Yellowstone,” said Ryan Hauck, the executive director for the Park County Travel Council (PCTC). “Our goal is to always try to bring people either in shoulder season, or get them to come for multiple nights, or whatever that looks like.”

One way to do that, Hauck said, is to create more evening activities, which encourage visitors to stay more than one night. 

The domes that have taken up residence on the Chamber’s property will allow people to gather outside in the evenings and remain sheltered from the elements.

“I kind of envisioned, maybe we have a food truck night once a month, or something like that,” Hauck said. “They honestly work perfectly for food trucks. Also, a lot of destinations do what’s called a restaurant week, in which maybe in a shoulder season we could feature restaurants every day for a week straight.”

The domes also encourage the use of outdoor public spaces, which Hauck said is how the idea for the project came up in the first place.

“I think it was the WCDA (Wyoming Community Development Authority) that has a grant for public spaces that comes out every single year,” he said. “And they ran a study to see what communities really need public spaces, and honestly, Cody came up as one of the top ones in all of Wyoming that really need public spaces.” 

“There’s just not a lot of places where people can go to hang out, and enjoy what we have, other than a few places downtown,” he added.

Hauck said the project was funded with federal money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act or “CARES” and to that end, addressed social distancing concerns.

“This does give another option to enjoy a public space in a COVID friendly way if that’s something that people are actively looking for,” Hauck said. “And people still are actively looking for those options.”

In deciding to utilize the CARES Act money for this project, Hauck said local leaders supported the idea completely.

“These were federal dollars for destinations like us, and everybody else throughout the state, to help us recover,” he said. 

A company called HypeDome provided the materials, which Hauck said should withstand all that the Wyoming weather can throw at them, from sub-zero winter temperatures and snow to the state’s ever-present wind.

“Also, we do live in Wyoming, and we have wind here,” he said. “And so, going off memory here, I believe we had to have a structure that could withstand 85-mile-an-hour wind and 150-mile-an-hour gusts up to three seconds. And these can do that.”

Hauck pointed out that these permanent structures are perfect setups for social media posts.

“People are going to be looking for that ‘Instagrammable’ moment, just like they have been for the last few years,” he said. “And they’re going to look awesome. I think it’s going to be something that will help draw people in that way.”

But he pointed out that the project isn’t quite finished yet.

“There are going to be some accessories like cement tables, vases, things like that,” Hauck said. 

“Every single one of them will also have rope lights around the base of them, and fairy lights all throughout the top part of the dome.” He continued. “So you know, at dusk and nighttime, they’re going to look pretty phenomenal.” 

The chamber asks that users finish up in the domes by 10 p.m., but at this point, there are no locks to keep people out.

Hauck added that there is no plan to ever charge to use the domes.

“Whether it’s locals that want to enjoy the outdoors and stay away from the 60-mile-an hour wind, or it’s tourists looking for that fun Instagrammable moment – or if they just want a fun place where they could stop and read a book or eat a quick lunch before they head into the park. It’s an option, really, for anybody and everybody,” he said.

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Some $1.18 Million Worth Of Art Sold At Cody’s Buffalo Bill Art Show

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When the gavel dropped on the final piece of artwork at the 40th annual Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale, nearly $1.18 million worth of art had been sold.

The Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale benefits the Cody Country Chamber of Commerce and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. This event was held in conjunction with By Western Hands’ exhibit for Western Functional Art during the annual weeklong celebration of the arts known as Rendezvous Royale. 

“It is without a doubt the most successful shoulder season event bringing hundreds of people to Cody each year,” organizers said.

They called last week’s events in Cody a success, saying that, while the 2021 season looked different, they were “extremely grateful to be back in the tent and back in person.”

Produced by the Cody chamber, the art show generated more than $1.5 million in gross revenue. While in-person attendance was limited, hundreds of patrons, artists and community members enjoyed a variety of art-related events throughout the week, culminating with the annual Quick Draw Saturday morning. 

The live auction’s highest selling work went to Tucker Smith’s work “Glacier Carved,” which featured mountain sheep and sold for $65,000. Pieces were sold online with the LiveAuctioneers platform, through phone bidding and in-person bidding at the 15,000 square foot tent.

Chamber CEO Tina Hoebelheinrich praised her team and its partners at the Center of the West.

“We truly could not have pulled this off if not for the tenacity and dedication of the best art show director in the West, Kathy Thompson, the volunteers who came from Nevada, Utah and Washington to participate as well as the loyal volunteers from Cody who show up year after year,”  Hoebelheinrich said. “Workforce became an issue for our tent and food vendors, so a tremendous thank you to the facilities team at the Center of the West who never rested and helped us overcome every challenge.”

A total of 110 contemporary Western artists were invited to participate in the Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale — hailing from Wyoming to New York to Australia and offering works relating to the land, people and wildlife of the American West. Works ranged from oil paintings, watercolors, pastels, sculptures, ceramics and mixed media.

Judges of Annual Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale remarked on high caliber of artwork

The 2021 jurors were:

• Jan and Bruce Eldredge, former Executive Director and CEO of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West,

• Donna Poulton, art consultant, author, and former Curator of Art of the American West at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, and

• Tylee Abbott, head of the Department of American Art at Christie’s Auction House in New York City.

The judges praised this year’s selections overall, with Bruce Eldredge declaring the show to be “of exceptional quality.” He said it stood out especially for the works of art on paper, which “show a mastery of working in watercolor, pastel, charcoal, and collage” — mediums that Jan Eldredge said are “always unforgiving.” 

The Spirit of the Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale Award

This award recognizes the artwork that is most representative of the show in terms of location, history, and the greatness and grandeur embodied by the “spirit” of the American West. The judges awarded this honor to “South Fork Wanderers,” a 32- by 45-inch oil painting by Mark Kelso.

Bruce Eldredge said the painting perfectly embodies the “location, greatness, and grandeur” defined in the award criteria, and all judges agreed.

The judges selected “The Fence Inspector” by T. Allen Lawson as the two-dimensional artwork of exceptional execution and craftsmanship. Tylee Abbott called the 14- by 14-inch oil painting “a whisper of a Western winter landscape.”

Poulton lauded the artist for his color work on a diminutive canvas, saying that “not all artists could accomplish such a small-scale snapshot with such a limited palette.”

Three-Dimensional Award

The judges selected Joshua Tobey’s sculpture “Stepping Stone” as the three-dimensional artwork of exceptional execution and craftsmanship. This patinated bronze stands 55 by 18 by 21 inches.

Abbot called Tobey’s piece “a combination of accuracy, engineering, originality, and playfulness” and Bruce Eldredge remarked that “the artist captured both the heron and the turtle in an exceptional way.”

Judges’ Awards of Excellence

A mark of the show’s overall quality, the judges decided to recognize four additional artists for their excellence in design and execution.

• Campbell Dosch, “Apsaalooke,” bronze, 37 by 18 by 12 inches.

• Dolan Geiman, “Midnight Moonlight,” vintage paper collage, 46 by 36 inches.

• Paul Rhymer, “Chicken Hawk in Repose,” bronze, 66 by 18 by 18 inches.

• Kyle Sims, “Glider,” oil, 16 by 32 inches.  

People’s Choice Award

Members of the public who visited the Live Auction gallery cast votes for their favorite piece of artwork. Heide Presse received the most votes for her 40- by 30-inch oil painting “Tall Tales.”

Gilly Fales Fine Art Scholarship Award

The Gilly Fales Fine Art Scholarship Award is a local scholarship opportunity provided by the Gilly Fales Memorial Foundation for the Arts, which seeks to empower young artists ages 18-30 who have a passion for the arts. Olivia Christensen received the honor for her 40- by 30- inch oil painting, “Heart of Wyoming.”

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“Don’t California My Cody” Billboard Stirs Controversy

in Cody/Cody/News

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

To some people in Cody, Californians have a bad reputation.

In fact, many new residents who have moved to Cody from the Golden State introduce themselves to locals by apologizing first when they are asked where they’ve moved from. 

Some have received less-than-enthusiastic responses from Wyomingites who have had negative interactions with newcomers from the west coast – many of whom have differing ideologies (i.e. liberal ideals) from the conservative norms of Park County.

A billboard that was put up in Cody recently epitomizes that divide. It reads, “Don’t Calilfornia Our Cody,” and it greets drivers as they enter the town from the east. 

The billboard was erected on property belonging to a longtime Cody businessman, Ron Hill, and was commissioned and paid for by Blackwater, the private military company.  And it’s received some criticism – but also some strong support.

You never know when or where an argument will break out. Warring factions appear in-person, on social media, on talk shows, and in the newspapers.

This past week, the local newspaper was a popular location for dissent.

In a letter to the editor to the Cody Enterprise, Cat White (a California resident who says she spends significant time in Cody and has long ties to the state) wrote, “You may not agree with politics, but you cannot deny that without Californians visiting, the people of Cody would not have the jobs that our tourism affords. Many members of my family benefit from this who work in the service and hospitality industry.” 

She went on to say the billboard made Cody citizens appear “childish”.

A rebuttal letter from the owner of the property on which the billboard stands, Ron Hill, explained that as a landowner, he has rights to rent his billboard to whomever he chooses, and said White’s letter, which included a plea to the public to put pressure on the landowner to take the billboard down, was in itself an attack on free speech.

“There is zero tolerance for attacking the fundamental foundation of what makes our community and our country great – the principles of private property rights, free market business rights and the freedom of speech,” Hill wrote.

In a response to the original letter, Cody resident Schelly Jordan explained that from her perspective, the sign is “a reminder to Californians that they left their former home state and come here for a reason. Probably several.” 

Many comments upheld Jordan’s views, some using inflammatory language, while others remained restrained, while still supporting the idea that “California values” have no place in Wyoming.

In the past week, vandals have painted obscene images on the billboard, similar to graffiti that was sprayed on an anti-abortion billboard north of Cody last month. 

Response on the Facebook page “Cody Chit Chat” condemned the vandalism, many deriding the Cody mayor, school board, and other so-called “blue” elected officials. Scott Weber, Cody businessman, wrote, “We will NOT allow “Act Blue” to take hold by any means.”

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