CODY HISTORY

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Founding of Cody

  The town of Cody was founded in 1896 by a group of business men/investors headed by William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody. 

While visiting Sheridan, Wyoming, in 1894, Cody’s son-in-law Horace Boal pointed out this area from the top of the Big Horn Mountains, and suggested Cody join a group of Sheridan businessmen already interested in founding a town here.  Buffalo Bill saw the beauty of the region, its proximity to Yellowstone National Park, the abundance of game and fish, and the available land for ranching and farming -- all that was missing was sufficient water to enable ranchers and farmers to make a living in this high desert country. The Shoshone River did run through the area, however, which meant there was potential for bringing more water to the land. By 1895, the Shoshone Land and Irrigation Company was formed, made up of George T. Beck, William F. Cody, Nate Salsbury, Harry Gerrans, Bronson Rumsey, Horace Alger, and George Bleistein.  In the fall of 1895 work began on the Cody Canal which would carry water from the Southfork of the Shoshone River east to the town. In May, 1896 Beck and surveyor Charles Hayden laid out the town at its present location.

George Beck

The Governor, as the townspeople usually referred to him early on, invested a great deal of money in the birth of the town. 

George Beck was the town founder who lived here and oversaw its development. The Burlington railroad, headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska, was interested in building a spur line to Cody from Toluca, Montana -- on the line running from Billings, Montana to southern Wyoming. In order to make sure that Cody became the terminus of the line, the Shoshone Land and Irrigation Company sold the majority of the town lots to the railroad company, and dropped the “Land” from their company name.  The first edition of the Cody Enterprise was published in 1899 and is still publishing today. The town of Cody was incorporated in 1901, the same year that the Chicago, Burlington. & Quincy railroad arrived on the north side of the river. In 1909, Park County was separated from Big Horn County by the Wyoming State Legislature and Cody was named the county seat.