We Bet You Didn’t Know These Five Fun Facts About Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country
CODY, Wyo., October 15, 2015 – While people who make a trip to Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country are often familiar with Yellowstone National Park, the Nite Rodeo and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, it is the original and fun items that typically make for great conversation starters.
“Yellowstone Country has its share of quirks and little-known facts, and those of us who live and work here in this authentic corner of northwestern Wyoming love sharing the colorful history of the region with our visitors,” said Claudia Wade, director of the Park County Travel Council.
Here are five tidbits we bet you didn’t know about Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country:
The town’s oldest church was built from the winnings in a poker game. In 1902 Buffalo Bill Cody and some of friends were playing poker when the pot grew to a substantial amount. One of the players suggested that the winner should use the money for a good cause. Cody’s close friend, George Beck, won the pot and subsequently used the proceeds to help build an Episcopal Church, the town’s first. The “Poker Church” is still in use today and, with its white walls and green roof, is easily spotted from the town’s 8th Avenue.
Black-footed ferret not extinct after all. In spite of substantial efforts over the years and passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973, many biologists believed the black-footed ferret was extinct after the last of the animals in captivity died in 1979. In 1981, however, a dog named Shep brought a dead ferret to its owners, John and Lucille Hogg, on a ranch near Meeteetse. After wildlife officials were notified, ferrets were spotted in the area. The black-footed ferret has since been successfully reintroduced to parts of the West.
Jeremiah Johnston was real. In 1972 actor Robert Redford played the title character in the film Jeremiah Johnson. In the movie, Johnson was a mountain man who wanted to live a hermit’s life but was repeatedly challenged by natives and newcomers. Jeremiah “Liver Eating” Johnston was a real life mountain man who shared many of the same qualities and adventures. Johnston was buried in California, but when a highway was routed through the cemetery, a local elementary school class petitioned to have him reinterred in a suitable location. Johnston’s grave is now located in Cody’s Old Trail Town, a collection of homesteader cabins and other Western memorabilia. And when the burial took place, one of the pall bearers was actor Robert Redford.
The royal family of Monaco likes it here. In 1913 Prince Albert I of Monaco hunted with Colonel Cody, and the Monaco flag is still on the wall of Cody’s hunting lodge called Pahaska TeePee. Guiding the prince on this excursion was a man by the name of Fred Richard, a good friend of Cody’s. In 2013, His Serene Highness Prince Albert II, the current monarch of Monaco and the great great grandson of Prince Albert I, visited the area to commemorate his great great grandfather’s trip. Guiding the current prince on this trip was Fred Richard’s grandson, Bob Richard.
That really is Ernest Hemingway’s signature in the guest register. In 1903 Agnes Chamberlin opened a boarding house in Cody and welcomed guests until the property was sold in 1939 and renamed the Pawnee Hotel. In 2005 current owners Ev and Susan Diehl purchased the Pawnee, renamed it the Chamberlin Inn, hired a contractor and turned the building into a beautiful boutique hotel. As part of the purchase, the Diehls insisted that the original guest register be included. The register is displayed at the hotel and is opened to Oct. 16, 1932 where author “Ernest Hemingway, Key West, Florida,” signed in. Hemingway stayed in room 18 which is now called the “Hemingway Suite” and is available to hotel guests.
Yellowstone Country is comprised of the towns of Cody, Powell and Meeteetse as well as the valley east of Yellowstone National Park.
The area of Park County is called “Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country” because it was the playground of Buffalo Bill Cody himself. Buffalo Bill founded the town of Cody in 1896, and the entire region was driven and is still heavily influenced by the vision of the Colonel. Today its broad streets, world-class museum Buffalo Bill Center of the West and thriving western culture host nearly 1 million visitors annually.
The Park County Travel Council website (www.codyyellowstone.org) lists information about vacation packages, special events, guide services, weather and more. Travelers wishing to arrange vacation can also call the Park County Travel Council at 1-800-393-2639.