Cody’s Cousin’s California Casa
Contrary to rumors floating around town, I do manage to get away from Cody, Yellowstone, Powell,
Meeteetse and the surrounding area. There is more to life than listening to cowboy music, fishing for
trout, hiking and riding some of the finest trails anywhere, breaking in new boots and chatting up
tourists from pretty much everywhere.
When I received an invitation from an old friend to attend her wedding in Palm Springs I responded that
I would be there in less time than it takes a Nite Rodeo cowboy to rope and tie a calf. Not only do I love
the desert and always enjoy living it up with old friends, but I felt some inexplicable pull toward the
area. I could not put my finger on it, but I just wanted to be there.
I booked my flight and a hotel room close to the main drag, called Palm Canyon Drive. The street
reminded me of Cody’s own Sheridan Avenue, with its abundant restaurants, shops, galleries and a very
high level of walkability.
Once I arrived I took a walk around the downtown and the adjacent Tennis Club area. I had this strange
feeling that I had either been in this area in a past life or maybe had ancestors who traveled through on
their way to the California coast in search of gold or Gene Autry.
Then I turned a corner and was staring at a sign that said “Casa Cody.” Naturally, I took a few steps
closer and realized that I was outside one of several comfortable-looking inns found throughout the
Coachella Valley. Surrounded by a wall and with ample vegetation, this inn offered privacy and covered
the better part of a block with cottages, swimming pools, public areas and private getaway spaces.
After I introduced myself and said that I was from Cody, Wyoming, I asked some very friendly hotel staff
if there was any connection to our own Buffalo Bill. What I discovered is that there is conflicting
One story says that the woman who built the inn back in the 1920s was Harriet Cody who was, in fact, a
cousin of our town’s founder. Another states that Harriet’s husband, Harold, was Buffalo Bill’s cousin.
Regardless of the real story, I figured old Harriet was much like some of the strong Cody women who left
their indelible marks on our town. Women like Agnes Chamberlin, Caroline Lockhart, Cassie Waters and
Harriet Cody was a well-educated easterner who graduated from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New
York. She arrived in Palm Springs in 1916 from Hollywood with her husband, who was suffering from
either pneumonia or tuberculosis. Again, multiple stories are out there.
The couple began raising horses and established a riding stable in the area. After Harold’s death in
1924, Harriet purchased property and built the Casa Cody, which is the oldest operating hotel in Palm
Since Palm Springs is known as a celebrity hangout and is reasonably close to Los Angeles, there are
many stories of various movie stars who have stayed at Casa Cody and other inns in the region.
As I continued to explore the town, I found yet another Cody connection – or at least a possible one.
There was a William F. Cody who was a well-known architect in the Palm Springs area too.
I was relieved to get back to Cody after a somewhat surreal desert wedding. A cowgirl like me can
deal with only so many palm trees before aching for the more familiar lodgepole pines of the area.
And where was the wildlife, for heavens sake? No bison lumbering down the street, although I did see
a few pampered pups including one yippy fella in a stroller.
The experience reminded me of the very long reach of Col. William F. Cody around the country and
the world. Places like the Buffalo Bill Cody Homestead in Princeton, Iowa, where Buffalo Bill lived as a
child. And the Buffalo Bill State Historical Park in North Platte, Neb., where Buffalo Bill built a grand
home during the glory days of the Wild West Show. And then there’s the Buffalo Bill Museum and
Grave in Golden, Colo., where some people claim Buffalo Bill is buried.
Buffalo Bill Cody had very long shirttails, and they are still a draw for curious travelers like me who
continue to be fascinated by all things Buffalo Bill Cody.
My goal over the next few months is to research and try to get to the bottom of the Casa Cody/Buffalo
Bill connection, including learning about another Palm Springs resident I came across. That would be
one William F. Cody who was a well-known architect in the area.
Until next week, I am lovin’ life – and hugging lodgepole pine trees – here in Cody/Yellowstone