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Sunday, April 09, 2006

how do you like your blueeyed boy, colorado

If you want to visit the mortal remains of Wild West star William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody, there's only one place to go: Lookout Mountain near Golden, Colorado.

Or Cedar Mountain in Cody, Wyoming.

Folks in Wyoming still are miffed that Cody was buried in Colorado, where he died in 1917, instead of Cody, where he had hoped to spend eternity. Members of the Wyoming House have jokingly suggested that they steal his remains, but Bob Richard of Cody says they're too late.

Richard relates a family tale that Cody's widow Louisa sold his body to the city of Denver and the Denver Post for $20,000. The town of Cody was outraged, and Richard's grandfather Fred Richard, his great-uncle Ned Frost, and a man named Jon Vogel decided to take matters into their own hands. They secured the body of a local cowboy who bore a resemblance to Buffalo Bill, and carried it to Denver.

Because Buffalo Bill died in January and the road up Lookout Mountain was impassable for months, his body was embalmed and kept at Olinger Mortuary in Denver until the burial in June.

The three men sneaked into the mortuary, switched the look-alike cowboy for Buffalo Bill, and returned to Cody, where they "took shovels and picks and rode up on top of Cedar Mountain to dig a grave for him there," Richard said.
Steve Friesen, director of the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave at Lookout Mountain, says this never happened, and that Bill is perfectly happy where he is.
Exhuming the body for a DNA test could settle the issue forever, and descendants of Buffalo Bill in Cody could provide a reference sample, but Friesen doesn't seem too open to the idea.

As for the grave site raiding party proposed by Philip and Miller, the Wyoming legislators, Friesen said he isn't concerned.

"People up there talk about that a lot, but they've been saying that for close to 100 years now," he said confidently. "It ain't happening." [Link]
[Title courtesy of e e cummings, an iconoclastic poet who was not above grave-robbing.]

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