Go West With Buffalo Bill and the Wild West Shows!

Posted by on June 20, 2008

Hello everyone!

Well, I’ve been at camp, so I haven’t been able to post too regularly this week, but ran across a facinating topic on Buffalo Bill tonight and thought you might be interested.


Like that picture?  When someone says “The West”, that is what I picture in my mind.  William Frederick Cody, aka: Buffalo Bill, used this same imagery in his “Wild West” shows in the late 1800’s.


Traveling around the United States and even the world stage, the show presented the story of the American West through acts and plays as well as riding and shooting skills.  With personalities of the day and presentation of history through participation, popularity soared with audiences who had little connections to the real western half of the United States.

PBS, in their series on the West gives us a good outline of some of the components of the show.  Says PBS:

“…In later years Buffalo Bill’s Wild West would star the sharpshooter Annie Oakley, the first “King of the Cowboys,” Buck Taylor, and for one season, “the slayer of General Custer,” Chief Sitting Bull. Cody even added an international flavor by assembling a “Congress of Rough Riders of the World” that included cossacks, lancers and other Old World cavalrymen along with the vaqueros, cowboys and Indians of the American West….” (3)

Yet, by the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s, the world, and the United States was changing.  It was a new era, with industry and the closing of the American frontier.  Seemingly, according to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, the popularity of the show began to dwindle.  “The West” was loosing ground to technology and the new way of doing things.  As a result, even through additions and changes to the show, bankruptcy  was not long off.


I’ve assembled some great links to explore this topic further, including the Historical Center, PBS, and Nara.  The depth of information is good, but I know I’ve only scratched the surface of what is available.  Hope you enjoy it!

Have a great day!


America’s Library: Wild Bill

Wild West Program Backstory

PBS, The West

Denver Public Library: Photo Archive–Wild West shows

Buffalo Bill Historical Center


(1,4) Nara

(2) LOC

(3) PBS, The West

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