Buffalo Bill Cultural Center in Oakley

Frank) And we’re back again. You know, it is interesting, the next story is about Buffalo Bill. It’s also interesting how he got the name. That’s in the story, so I really won’t give it away, but it is interesting that in the West, as it was being built, all of these characters got nicknames and what have you. So anyway, that’s what this story can be about. (Deb) Speaking of nicknames, of course the guy that he met was Medicine Bill Cornstalk. Medicine meaning superstitious, not like Doctor. Medicine as in– (Frank) Big medicine? (Deb) Yes, right. So it’s more like superstition. My favorite nickname in the West though is Buffalo Chips White. And one time Phil Sheridan, I can’t stand Phil Sheridan, but anyway, he was interviewing scouts, and Buffalo Bill was out of town. He was back in Rochester, wherever, doing a big show. So he was out of town, and so Charlie White was like Bill’s shadow. He dressed like Bill, he wore his hair like Bill, everything. So he goes in to see Phil Sheridan and Sheridan in his usual diplomatic ways, said, “Who the devil are you?” And he said, “When Buffalo Bill is not here, I am Buffalo Bill.” And Sheridan takes one look and says, “Buffalo Chips more likely”, except he didn’t say, ”Chips.” When the press reported it, they used the word “Chips” to make it politically correct for families to read. But that nickname stuck with him for the rest of his life. Buffalo Chips is probably on his tombstone. I don’t know. (Frank) What we need to do too, of course, Bill Cody, his name was William Cody. But so many of these guys, for some reason, took on the name Bill. It was something Bill– (Deb) Wild Bill. (Frank) Wild Bill. (Deb) Whose name was James. (Frank) Anyway, we’ll look into that. (Deb) We’ll look into that. Thanks, Bill (Frank) That’s okay, Billie. Stop for the legend. From 1867-1868 the Kansas Pacific Railroad was being built in the heart of buffalo country. From points west of Hays, hostile Indians were a challenge to providing fresh meat to the railroad workers. The railroad employed experienced hunters to supply the meat. William F. Cody was one of those hunters. Riding his favorite buffalo horse “Brigham,” and with the aid of his1866 Springfield rifle, named Lucretia Borgia, a 50-70 caliber gun, Buffalo Bill fulfilled his contract with the railroad as far west as Sheridan. This was the inspiration for the Buffalo Bill bronze sculpture, located just west of 2nd St. on US Hwy 83. The twice life-size bronze sculpture, by Charlie and Pat Norton of Leoti, was voted one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Art. It commemorates the 1868 contest between Cody and William “Medicine Bill” Comstock where the winner earned the name Buffalo Bill. At the Visitor’s Center, The Wild West Historical Foundation tells Cody’s story and that of the legendary hunt. Read the story boards, listen to the radio story recounting the historical contest, and take pictures in the Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley and Sitting Bull cut out figures. When visiting the sculpture, be sure to stop inside the Buffalo Bill Cultural Center. There are exhibits, an extensive gift shop, and facilities to host your own historic events. So whether you stop in Oakley for a day or for a lifetime, you’ll be glad you did. Stop for the Legend…Stay for the Day.

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