Buffalo Bill State Historical Park
Buffalo Bill Ranch will open for the season on April 21, 2014
Col. Wm. F. Cody, “Buffalo Bill,” built his North Platte home during the heyday of his famous Wild West Show, which debuted in North Platte as the “Old Glory Blowout” on July 4th, 1882. Cody owned some 4,000 acres here, and in 1886, built the large Victorian mansion at a cost of $3,900. Sixteen acres of his ranch, appropriately named “Scout’s Rest”, became a state historical park in 1965. Since that time, the house and barn have been restored and a wealth of Cody memorabilia has been acquired.
Guided tours available by appointment.
March 24-Memorial Day 10am-4pm weekdays, closed weekends
Memorial Day – Labor Day 9am-5pm daily
Labor Day – Oct 24 10am-4pm weekdays, closed weekends
Fee: State Park Permit required for all vehicles, admission charged for tour
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The Wild West Show
In response to a plea from the townsfolk of North Platte to organize an appropriate western shebang for the 4th of July, Cody staged the first Old Glory Blowout in 1882. The “Blowout” has since been heralded as the beginning of rodeo in the U.S. It could also be considered a trial run for his Wild West Show, which was to bring him fame around the world. The next year, he organized his Wild West Combination, which was unveiled in Omaha on May 17.
From 1883-86, Cody successfully toured the U.S. with his Wild West Show, taking the wild and wooly frontier to the doorsteps of eastern dudes. In 1887, he took the show on a triumphant tour of England. He crossed the Atlantic again in 1889 to enthrall Europe with America’s real west.
Buffalo Bill’s “Wild West” played adjacent to the Chicago’s World Fair in 1893 and in 1898, August 31 was celebrated as Cody Day at the Trans-Mississippi Exposition in Omaha. Then, in 1900, Cody went into partnership with James A. Bailey (Barnum & Bailey). In 1902, an enlarged show again toured Europe. He joined William Lillie (Pawnee Bill) in the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Pawnee Bill’s Far East Show in 1908. This combine toured for a time, but misfortune seemed to follow, and the show failed.
Cody appeared briefly with the Sells-Floto Circus, and the season 1916 was his last on the circuit.
Buffalo Bill’s Ranch – Scout’s Rest – became a state historical park in 1965. Since then, the house and barn have been restored and a wealth of Cody memorabilia has been acquired and placed on display. He built his North Platte home during the heyday of his famous Wild West Show. Cody owned some 4,000 acres here, which were appropriately named Scout’s Rest Ranch. The park encompasses 16 acres of the original ranch (including the house and barn) with another 233 acres in the adjacent state recreation area.
Cody raised cattle and horses and introduced blooded stock to this part of the country. He bought thoroughbred horses and high-grade Herefords, shorthorns and polled Angus cattle. His Hereford bull, Earl Horace, was a noted sire of the time.
In 1886, Cody instructed his brother-in-law and ranch manager, Al Goodman, to build the large house. He evidently left the main design to his sister, Julia Goodman. His one stipulation was that it contains a parlor and a bedroom with a bathroom. A contractor, Patrick Welsh, was engaged to furnish the material and build the house for $3,900. In 1909, an addition was built on the back of the house.
During this period, the Wild West Show was a profitable venture, and money for development of the ranch and Cody’s other interests was plentiful. No expense was spared in building and furnishing the ranch. Nor was cost of any concern when entertaining guests, who included wealthy and famous figures of the time. There were actors, businessmen, royalty, army officers and friends from Cody’s frontier days.
At the close of the 1911 season, Cody was in need of money and sold Scout’s Rest Ranch, his North Platte home and some 3,000 acres to his show partner Pawnee Bill for $100,000. The Cody family remained at the ranch until April 1913, when they moved to Cody, WY.
The State Recreation Area
Part of the original ranch, the 233-acre recreation area offers picnicking, camping and hiking. The camping area has 23 pad sites with 50 amp electrical hookups, and there is a large tent camping area. Fees are charged for camping. Facilities are primitive – no showers or dump station. However, there is an 18 x 25 picnic shelter, and there are vault toilets in the area.