Vanished Worlds, Enduring People
Sideshow to Powwow
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West: America’s National Entertainment Led by the Famed Scout and Guide Buffalo Bill. Hartford, Conn, 1885. [view]
William F. Cody (1846-1917) had a varied career before launching Buffalo Bill’s Wild West in 1884. After fighting with the Union Army against the Confederacy, he moved to Kansas, where he provisioned railroad crews by shooting buffaloes. He also served as a scout and guide, fighting in as many as sixteen skirmishes with Native Americans. His exploits were publicized in dime novels and plays. From 1872 to 1883, he played himself in many dramas about the “Wild West.”
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West shows consisted of a series of elaborately reenacted “historical” scenes, interspersed with feats of sharp shooting, rodeo-style events, and races. Native Americans figured prominently, with Buffalo Bill riding in to save the day.
A Peep at Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. New York: McLoughlin Bros., 1887. [view]
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World: Historic Sketches and Programme. New York: Fless & Ridge Printing Co., 1897. [view]