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Thanksgiving at the Corrie N. Cody House

November 13th, 2018 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

It’s the most wonderful day of the year, and I’m not talking about that December holiday when the fat man brings gadgets and Dads and Moms double-check their supply of AA batteries.

No, the most wonderful day of the year is Thanksgiving, at least at the Corrie N. Cody household. Every year, my house swells with the love and friendship of my guests, and my dining room table groans under the weight of abundance. Like many tables in the country, mine will include a variety of casseroles, salads, sides and sweets that reflect the ethnic heritage and the family traditions of my guests.

I’m always in charge of the turkey, dressing, gravy and green bean casserole. Oui. That green bean casserole. The one that includes French fried onion rings from a can, fresh from the factory and lacking anything resembling an onion.

I make that casserole to honor my Uncle Jim, who I miss dearly. His lack of culinary sophistication was legend in my family. He would eat anything with equal relish – a stale potato chip dipped in ketchup, dill pickles with leftover tomato soup, mashed potatoes with chocolate sauce. Uncle Jim never talked about how he was starved as a prisoner Read More


Maps and Trivia: Who Could ask for More?

November 5th, 2018 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

There are a couple of things (maybe more, just saying) about me that my friends like to tease.

One is that I love trivia. While some might comment on my recall of factoids and say that I am full of “useless knowledge,” I say that you never know when an item can spark a conversation or lead to something truly fascinating. I explained once to a friend’s daughter that Telluride, Colorado got its moniker from miners who shortened “To Hell You Ride” into the town’s name. She rolled her eyes like all good teenagers do and left the room. A few weeks later I caught her in the act of retelling one of her friends what I had shared.

She doesn’t tease me anymore, and we always get a good laugh.

A second quirk I have is that I love looking at maps. I get this from my dad who would spread out state and national maps on the kitchen table where he would plan a route for our vacations or holiday visits. The two of us would have deep discussions about tolls, speed limits, timing and such until we agreed on our best route to get two states over.

One of my friends spotted Read More


Enduring Friendships – With Fireworks

October 30th, 2018 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

We all have that one friend. Or if we are supremely lucky, those handful of friends. Whatever you need, you can count on them, even if you don’t know you need it.

They are the ones who bring you homemade chicken soup when you are sick or teasingly bully you into doing another set of squats at the gym. They offer advice when asked and listen to your woes without judgment. And they always – always – defend and promote your honor.

Buffalo Bill Cody had one of those friends, and her name was Caroline.

Thing is, they weren’t particularly close.

Caroline Lockhart was a barrier-breaker just like the founder of the town where she chose to move. A successful novelist at a time when most women in the country didn’t even have the right to vote, the ambitious, talented and nationally famous Lockhart had produced several bestselling novels by the early 1900s. She was wry, quick-witted and an intuitive news-maker.

She also was notorious. She drank hard liquor at a time when many prominent citizens enthusiastically supported the coming Prohibition. She had many male friends, but she never married. She was also sentimental, and she loved the Old West. She celebrated with her pen Read More


The Do-Good Sinners of Cody

October 5th, 2018 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

Every frontier town had its ramblers, gamblers, “sportin’” women and robbers, and Cody was no exception. While many of these less-than-upstanding souls were downright dangerous – just ask the families of the doctor who was mysteriously murdered right on his doorstep or the First National Bank cashier who was shot by robbers in 1904 – some had a soft side that emerged at the oddest times.

Picture a group of frontiersmen, including Buffalo Bill Cody, sitting around playing cards, boisterous, trash-talking, drinking. The year was 1902. It was a big year in Cody. The town had been incorporated one year earlier, with a population of 300 citizens, and growing. The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad had completed the spur from Toluca to Cody. Buffalo Bill Cody opened the Irma Hotel that year. Named for his daughter, the Irma was promoted as the most modern hotel in the Rockies. And Buffalo Bill’s dream of damming the Shoshone River to supply water to his town and the surrounding ranchland was coming to fruition.

The country was experiencing the push of modernization, and citizens of all stripes were learning to adapt. Butch Cassidy, Harry Longabaugh and Etta Place had taken their well-honed bank-robbing skills on the road to South America by then. Stagecoaches were still being Read More


Ninnyhammers, please stay home

September 30th, 2018 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

Every year, more than 4 million people lock up their homes in Manchester and Salzburg, Pittsburgh and Denver, Toronto and Sao Paulo, Wellington and Amsterdam with strategically packed suitcases and pre-downloaded apps on their fully charged phones, and they make their way by car, RV, airplane or bus to the world’s first national park.

Some of those visitors are bound to be ninnyhammers, and I wish they’d just stay home.

Ninnyhammer was the special label my genteel grandmother reserved for the occasional idiot who had the bad judgment to cross her path. She’d look the person directly in the eye and offer a carefully-worded put-down that usually started something like, “I can explain it to you, but I can’t understand it for you,” and ended with something like, “anytime you happen to pass my house, I’d sure appreciate it.”

Grandma always had a lot of snap in her garters.

You can easily spot a ninnyhammer in Yellowstone. They are the ones who get far too close to wildlife, refuse to stay on boardwalks, bring their pets on trails, carry guns and ignore all the other rules that are liberally posted throughout the park.

Every year, a few park visitors get too close to wildlife Read More


No, Recent Thermal Activity Doesn’t Mean...

September 21st, 2018 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

I was greeted with a familiar scene the other day. As I was walking in to Sierra Trading post a friend of my mine was leaving with a sleeping bag, three pairs of Tevas and a portable camping stove.

I turned around and followed her to car which was full of more supplies.

“What’s going on, Kirsten?” I asked. Like the old show Dragnet, her name was changed to protect the innocent, even though she is not very innocent. She is also prone to overreactions.

“Just preparing for when the Big One blows its top,” she responded, packing her latest purchase in with an eight-pack of toilet paper and a six pack of Buffalo Bill Beer. “Didn’t you catch the latest press release from the National Park Service?”

Actually, I had seen the release. It described new thermal activity in the Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park. Near Old Faithful geyser is an area called Geyser Hill which people can easily climb to gain a nice view of the area. New vents were erupting and splashing water on the boardwalks while surface fractures were appearing. Parts of the area were closed off to prevent people from getting too close.

The Upper Geyser Basin Read More


When Wyoming Women Rocked the Vote

September 11th, 2018 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

Every November when I head to the polls, I give a quiet thanks to the all-male 1869 Wyoming territorial legislature that granted women the right to vote. In doing so, Wyoming became the first territory in the country to give suffrage to women.

I imagine the pride the women of the territory who populated the isolated Wyoming ranches, rough frontier towns and big, modern cities like Cheyenne must have felt as they went to the polls for the first time.

The story of how they earned that right is as wild and meandering as the Shoshone River on an early spring day, with elements of political gamesmanship, greed, bigotry and pragmatism. But mostly, it was because of love. Or lack of it. The miners, ranchers, railroad men, shopkeepers, cowboys and entrepreneurs of Wyoming were lonely. They needed wives, and there were only so many young, single teachers to go around.

Women of Wyoming were granted the right to vote in December 1869, long before their sisters in other parts of the country. The state will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the accomplishment throughout next year.

An uneducated but cagey and well-liked bigot named William Bright stars in this story. A saloonkeeper in the town Read More


My Return to Colter’s Hell

August 20th, 2018 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

I returned to Colter’s Hell the other day. The real Colter’s Hell. The one that fur traders in the 1820s and 1830s named to honor the intrepid explorer who first saw it.

I’m a big fan of roadside historical markers, but I realized it had been ages since I had stopped to appreciate one of the most interesting ones near town.

Just west of downtown Cody, I stood in a roadside turnout beside a historical marker overlooking a seemingly calm Shoshone River, lined by steep canyons on either side. Every angler knows that this is one of the best fishing spots near town, and I saw a few of those in-the-know anglers finding their fishing Zen, oblivious to my binocular-aided voyeurism.

The real Colter’s Hell is located just west of downtown Cody.

John Colter was standing right there in 1807 as he watched flames rise from the Earth, smelled the rotten-egg odor of sulfur, saw steam rise from a turbulent river and heard rumblings beneath his feet as if the ground was experiencing hunger pangs. There stood the seasoned explorer, a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition that had concluded the previous year and had made history as the first expedition to explore the West. Colter either stood alone or with Read More


Digging Up the Latest Fun Attraction

August 7th, 2018 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

I have a reputation for liking the unusual. That’s why a Corrie Tour around town often includes a church built with poker winnings, the grave of a guy called “Liver Eating” and a collection of Sears Roebuck mail order houses.

When I heard a few years ago that someone was starting a museum comprised of guns found everywhere from farmers’ field to battlefields I welcomed it with, well, open arms.

The Cody Dug Up Gun Museum is located on 12 th Street next to the Chamberlin Inn in downtown Cody and features more than 1,000 relic guns and other weapons. Owners Hans and Eva Kurth have collected guns found throughout the country and from many different time periods including the American Revolution, the Gold Rush Era, The United States Civil War, the Old West and Indian Wars, World War I, The Roaring ‘20s and World War II.

This flintlock pistol, circa 1770, appears to have been burned in a fire.

This free museum – donations are accepted – is one of my favorite combinations of serious and whimsical with truly fascinating stories – many of them untold – of lost and found. I wonder how that Remington Model 1858 .44 ended up buried Read More


Getting Ready for a Great Dam Day

July 27th, 2018 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

On August 18th I’m going to have a great dam day. That’s when the Buffalo Bill Dam & Visitor Center will stage its annual “Great Dam Day,” a celebration of one of the most extraordinary engineering accomplishments in the West. The free event includes a hike down the “old dam road,” kids events and interpretive information on display in the visitor center.

I try to always participate in this fun celebration, as it reminds me of the extraordinary accomplishments and uncommon determination of our town’s founder, Buffalo Bill Cody.

Corrie will be participating in the annual Great Dam Day to celebrate the town of Cody’s showcase Buffalo Bill Dam. Photos courtesy of the Buffalo Bill Dam & Visitor Center.

Not only was he a world-renowned showman, Buffalo Bill possessed unusual logistical abilities and the brain of an engineer. When he selected a barren, windswept region of northwestern Wyoming for the namesake town he would develop, Cody knew that its success would depend on the most valuable resource in the American West: water.

Buffalo Bill wanted his town to become the tourism mecca that it is, and he knew that a dependable water source was essential not only for residents and visitors but also Read More