Here’s What’s New and Notable in Cody Yellowstone in 2020
CODY, Wyo., March 2, 2020 – From the 150th anniversary of Old Faithful Geyser’s world-recognized moniker to the 75th anniversary of the closure of the Heart Mountain Confinement Site, Cody Yellowstone is marking numerous anniversaries of places and historic events this year that have shaped this northwestern Wyoming region’s legacy and carved its destiny for future generations.
“We will celebrate many historic milestones next year, and they all remind us of the profound impact the Cody Yellowstone region has had on the continuing story of the American West,” said Claudia Wade, director of the Park County Travel Council, the marketing arm of the region called Cody Yellowstone. “Sometimes those milestones remind us to strive for better, such as the sobering anniversary of the end of the Heart Mountain Confinement Site. And sometimes they are just plain fun, especially if you are a history buff like me.”
Cody Yellowstone is comprised of the northwestern Wyoming towns of Cody, Powell and Meeteetse as well as the valley east of Yellowstone National Park.
As the region celebrates its many milestones this year, it is also looking ahead to next year’s 125th anniversary of the founding of the town by Colonel William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody. The most famous man in the world at the time, Cody romanticized and popularized the American West through his world-wide performances of the “Wild West Show.”
Notable anniversaries in Cody, Powell and Meeteetse:
75th anniversary of the closing of the Heart Mountain WWII Confinement Site . One of the bleakest periods in Cody Yellowstone history was the three-year period from 1942 to 1945, when more than 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent were confined in camps around the country. Some 14,000 of those Japanese-Americans – most from California – were confined at the Heart Mountain WWII Confinement Site, a hastily assembled camp on barren, windswept land near Powell, about 15 miles from Cody. When the war ended, the state of Wyoming made fast work to send the final incarcerees from the camp. Barracks were quickly purchased for as little as $1 by ranchers around the region and used as barns and storage. Cody visitors can learn about the confinement site today at the award-winning Heart Mountain WWII Interpretive Center on the site of the original camp.
110th anniversary of the Buffalo Bill Dam and Visitor Center. When it was completed in 1910, the 325-foot-high Buffalo Bill Dam was the highest concrete dam in the world, and it was the first concrete arch dam built in the United States. Visitors can learn about the history and walk along the top of the dam for a closeup view of the Buffalo Bill Reservoir. The dam irrigates more than 93,000 acres of farmland in the region.
120th anniversary of the establishment of the Chamberlin Inn and 15th anniversary of a major renovation. Agnes Chamberlin, an employee of Buffalo Bill’s Cody Enterprise, purchased a sagebrush-covered vacant lot across the street from the newspaper’s office and built and opened a boarding house. The hotel thrived, along with an in-house dentist office established by her husband Mark, who operated the medical office without the benefit of a license. The boarding house expanded into a major hotel and enjoyed a heyday, but it eventually deteriorated and became an eyesore. In 2005, the hotel was purchased by new owners Ev and Susan Diehl, who created a thriving boutique inn that remains popular today.
125th anniversary of the original townsite of Cody. When he envisioned the town that would bear his name, Buffalo Bill first chose and laid out a town on a plot of land west of downtown Cody in 1895. Today that site is the home of Old Trail Town/Museum of the West, a popular attraction, with a collection of frontier buildings. Cody had passed through the region in the 1870s and thought the combination of scenery, wildlife for hunting, rich soil and water for farming, and proximity to Yellowstone would make the spot perfect for the tourism-based frontier town he envisioned.
125th anniversary of the establishment of digging the Cody Canal.
Related to the original Cody townsite, the Cody Canal was established under the provisions of the Carey Act of 1894, and it was one of the first projects. Under the act, Western states were given a million acres of public land and instructed to contract with private developers to build water systems. Two Sheridan businessmen, George Beck and Horace Alger, had previously purchased the rights to irrigate a large tract of land east of the Shoshone River. Since Cody was one of the most famous men in the world at the time, the two were happy to capitalize on his renown and take him on as a partner.
135th anniversary of the discovery of gold in Kirwin. High in the Absaroka Mountains above the town of Meeteetse is the town of Kirwin, where the discovery of gold in 1885 led to the creation of a small boomtown. After a savage snowstorm struck the isolated town in 1907, most townspeople relocated, creating a ghost town in their wake. Today’s visitors can see the many remaining town structures during an annual free guided tour of Kirwin. The tour also includes a short hike to the foundation of a cabin that was being built by famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart, a frequent visitor to the region.
Notable anniversaries in Yellowstone National Park
100th anniversary of Roosevelt Lodge Cabins. Completed in 1920, Roosevelt Lodge Cabins is situated in Yellowstone’s Tower Falls area near a campsite once used by President Theodore Roosevelt. The remote lodge features rustic cabins, family-style dining and a huge front porch with a line of much-coveted rocking chairs. The lodge is the staging point for horseback trail rides, stagecoach adventures and the park’s popular Old West Dinner Cookout.
150th anniversary of naming Old Faithful Geyser. The geyser was discovered by members of the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition on Sept. 18, 1870. One explorer noted that it spouted at regular intervals and that the eruptions of the boiling water reached as much as 125 feet high. Yellowstone is home to more than 500 geysers representing more of than half of the geysers in the world.
105th anniversary of the year private automobiles were admitted to the park. Private automobiles began replacing the touring cars, stagecoaches and other public transportation in 1915, and the park was never the same after that. With the freedom of exploring at their own pace, increasing numbers of independent-minded travelers entered the park. Annual park visitors more than doubled between 1914 and 1915, jumping from 20,250 visitors in 1914 to 51,895 in 1915.
50th anniversary of new NPS bear-management plan. Prior to 1970, visitors to Yellowstone would gather nightly and take their seats in NPS-supplied bleachers to watch wild black bear rummage through the park’s garbage dumps. During those less-than-enlightened days, predictably, bear-caused human injuries averaged 45 annually. After the National Park Service removed the open-pit dumps and bleachers, bears were forced to return to a natural diet of plant and animal foods, and the number of bear-human conflicts dropped to an average of 10 per year.
25th anniversary of the beginning of wolf restoration to Yellowstone National Park. After more than a century of misguided practices that led to the extermination of gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park, the species was listed as endangered, mandating its recovery under the Endangered Species Act. That 1974 listing led to a more than two-decade process to restore wolves to the park. In 1995 and the following year, 31 gray wolves from western Canada were relocated to the park. Due to the dedication of the National Park Service and many wildlife experts, the park’s wolf population today is around 80 wolves in nine packs, a population that many believe is healthy and sustainable.
65th anniversary of the planning for Mission 66. With post-WW II national park visitation soaring, the National Park Service in 1955 persuaded Congress to fund a massive, 11-year improvement program with completion set for 1966, the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the National Park Service. Many buildings within Yellowstone National Park were developed or improved during this era.
Home of the Great American Adventure, Cody Yellowstone is comprised of the northwestern Wyoming towns of Cody, Powell and Meeteetse as well as the valley east of Yellowstone National Park. The region is known for rodeos, authentic guest and dude ranches, world-class museums and recreational adventures that reflect the adventurous spirit of the visionaries and explorers who brought the remote region to the world’s attention.
Mesereau Travel Public Relations