- Associated Press - Sunday, October 18, 2015

CODY, Wyo. (AP) - Buffalo Bill Cody died in 1917, but he is still accruing new honors.

Although Cody has not done anything lately to enhance his candidacy, on Nov. 17 he will be inducted into the Wyoming Business Hall of Fame.

Cody goes into the Hall in the pioneer category and his selection might go far to rehabilitate any image of him being reckless in business.

“I do think it is a valid recognition of Buffalo Bill,” said Jeremy Johnston, curator of the Buffalo Bill Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. “For many years I think he has received a bad rap as a businessman.”

Johnston called Cody a “true entrepreneur.”

Bill Schilling, president of the Wyoming Business Alliance, agreed, calling Cody a “consummate entrepreneur” with an “adventuristic spirit. He was a visionary and he commanded a world stage.”

During his lifetime, Cody was among the most famous Americans in the world. His leadership and development of the Wild West show that traveled throughout the United States and to dozens of other countries essentially established the Old West of myth and history in the minds of millions.

Johnston told the Cody Enterprise (https://bit.ly/1OzhNJm ) that there may have been as many as 100 show imitators or competitors to the Wild West, but as Schilling put it, “His is the one of lasting memory.”

A winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor for his war service, rider for the Pony Express and buffalo hunter for the cavalry, Cody was a co-founder of the city that bears his name and helped secure the water rights to develop it. The Buffalo Bill Reservoir and the Buffalo Bill Dam were named after him.

Buffalo Bill in 1902 also built the Irma Hotel, which remains the cornerstone of the downtown Cody business district, naming it for one of his daughters, and Pahaska Teepee, located near the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

Cody took physical risks in the field as a cavalry scout, in the Civil War and as an Indian fighter. He took risks in business, too, and some of his investments went belly-up. Notably, mining investments in Arizona were costly.

Nearing the end of his life Cody did lose financial control of the Wild West in highly publicized circumstances.

“Contrary to popular thought, he did not die penniless,” Johnston said. “(This) is really going to poke holes in that myth that he died penniless.”

This will be the second class inducted into the Wyoming Business Hall of Fame, which chose its first group of enshrinees in 2013. The Hall was founded by the Wyoming Business Alliance, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming.

“Overall, the No. 1 business success was the Wild West,” Johnston said. “If you mention Wild West to anyone, Buffalo Bill comes to mind. He was at the top of his game.”

Over a several-decade period Cody changed the players, the content and adapted the approach of the touring troupe.

From a real estate development perspective, Cody, along with George Beck and other town fathers, founded Cody, something which Johnston said had to be a tough sell in the 1890s.

“Making or breaking communities in the West has always been a challenge,” Johnston said.

The sales pitch for Cody was that it would thrive because it was near Yellowstone, but prospective settlers were asked to envision farm land converting from sage brush and put their faith in a river referred to as the Stinking Water River. The name was changed to Shoshone in 1901.

“Definitely, Cody did have quite a vision for this area, along with George Beck,” Johnston said. “He had the foresight to recognize it was going to be a main route into Yellowstone.

“He deserves his place in the Hall.”


Information from: The Cody Enterprise, https://www.codyenterprise.com

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