So, it’s 2011. What does that REALLY mean here in Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country? After all, this is such a timeless region. The hills look much the same as they did a hundred or a thousand years ago. Buffalo still roam (in selected areas, of course), wildlife is everywhere, and if you look in just the right direction, it can feel as though you’re the only person on earth. It’s one of the things that I love about the area right around Cody – you can go back in time just by willing it.
But, then, time never does really stand still, and that is evident in the little changes that happen in town every year. This year we’ll have a new high-end hotel in town, the Best Western Ivy Inn and Suites. Bill Garlow, who owns the Best Western Sunset, is the great grandson of Buffalo Bill himself, and in the family tradition of naming hotels after daughters, Garlow is naming this new property after his own daughter, Ivy Garlow. Isn’t that cool? So by the end of this summer, we’ll have another really nice hotel in town, to add to the charm and character of the properties that are already a home-away-from-home for our visitors.
Another addition to Park County that is long overdue is a tribute to those Japanese-Americans who were interred by the United States government during World War II at the Heart Mountain Internment Camp, between Cody and Powell. This is such an interesting story, and if you’re a history buff like I am, it’s a story that really needs to be told! In 1941, shortly after the attack by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Government decided that Japanese Americans, particularly those living on or near the west coast, needed to be “protected” and were relocated to camps. I get really riled up about the unfairness of that, because so many of these people had given up their ties to their birth country to become true American citizens! They were contributing members to their communities, they owned businesses and properties, much of which was never returned to the internees or their families after the war was over. They were trucked off into the middle of Wyoming and other places in the west and made to live in small barracks that did little to shelter them from the cold Wyoming winters. What just amazes me, though, is how resilient these people were. They truly created their own community at Heart Mountain – they had their own schools, their own newspapers, they had a boy scout troop… and to top it all off, many of them even enlisted in the United States military, serving with honor.
So now, after many years of efforts by the internees, their families, and folks from right here in Wyoming who don’t ever want to see this history repeated, their stories are now being told at the new Heart Mountain Learning Center, on the site of the old internment camp. This interpretive center will be opening on August 20th, and will be an awesome addition to the already long list of things that there are to do here in Cody/Yellowstone Country!
I’m sure by the time that summer rolls around again there will be more new things to report – I’m hearing rumors about new restaurants, and there could be some imaginative entrepreneur out there who’s right now devising a new activity for our visitors to enjoy – but I’d be satisfied with these few, but significant, additions to our local culture.
I can’t wait to share all of what we have to offer with those who choose to make us their vacation destination this year!
Lovin’ life in Buffalo Bill’s Country,
Corrie N. Cody