Cowboy Town U.S.A.
Article by Warren Resen
Photos by Jeanne O'Conner
Yeehaw!This is the one word I think that best describes the
most Cowboy of Cowboy Towns I’ve so far visited in the American
West. Cowboy Culture thrives here and the people really live it.
If you want better service in any restaurant, bar or better
seats at the daily Rodeo the secret, we discovered, was to wear
your Stetson 24/7 everywhere you go in Cody.
Cody is the focal point for eastern Yellowstone National
Park. Whether going to or coming from the park, you must drive
through Cody. Colonel William Cody, a/k/a “Buffalo Bill” saw to
this major marketing ploy. After all, he was an entrepreneur and
the consummate showman.
|Afternoon Sheriff & Bad guys shoot out
Colonel Cody had traveled through this region in the 1870s
and was so impressed by its potential and the area’s proximity
to Yellowstone, which had been declared a National Park by
President Ulysses S. Grant in 1882, he returned in the
The resulting town of Cody was incorporated in 1901.
This is the town he built, as if anyone can miss the connection.
His name is on almost anything of importance even structures
completed long after his passing.
In 1902 he built the Irma Hotel, named for his daughter,
right in what is today the city’s center. The 2-story Irma Hotel
is the focus for many of the happenings in Cody. This is where
tourists congregate to hear the legends, true or not, about The
Great Man. The Cody Gunfighters hold the requisite afternoon
shoot out between the good and bad guys in the street outside
the hotel. Shoot outs have become a tradition in many small
western towns. They are generally free and fun to watch. Cody’s
popular sightseeing trolley begins its run from the hotel.
|Buffalo Bill's Hotel Irma
This is a family town with no high rises and friendly people
where the badge of one’s manhood seems to be the degree of noise
one’s muffler can emit while driving on Sheridan Avenue, the
main road through town. But still, it’s good clean fun and
nobody seems to mind.
The famous Irma Hotel is a historic landmark which in this
instance means a little dated. The hotel with its bar (smoking
is allowed) and busy restaurant had a tad too much activity for
us so we opted to stay at the charming and definitely peaceful
Chamberlin Inn, a small 21 room hotel just ˝ block north of
|Hotel Irma's famous bar
The Chamberlin Inn is a different world with its individually
furnished rooms and lovely private garden for guests where we
had time to rest and recharge our batteries after thousands of
miles on the road. We were in the heart of the city yet totally
removed from the downtown.
Built in 1903 by Agnes Chamberlin who worked for Buffalo Bill
at the Cody Enterprise newspaper, the Chamberlin Inn was
expanded over the years, had several different owners and
operated under various names. The original name was restored by
Ev and Susan Diehl in 2005 when they purchased this historic
We had the privilege of staying in Suite #18, a/k/a “The
Hemingway Room.” Ernest Hemingway stayed there in 1932 when he
was 33 years old and had just completed the manuscript for
“Death in the Afternoon.” His greatest works were still on the
horizon and copies of all of Hemingway’s works are on the
writing desk next to the old manual typewriter. Nice touch.
|The delightful Chamberlin Inn
downtown Cody, WY.
It is said that Hemingway fished during the day and spent
evenings in the Hotel Irma’s bar. Perhaps he found time to also
do some writing during his sojourn at the Chamberlin Inn.
Tripadvisor has page after page of superlatives from guests
about the Chamberlin Inn. The list includes refined boutique
hotel, charming, delightful, warm and inviting, excellent,
quaint plus many, many more. This might seem a tad too elegant
for a cowboy town, but don’t we all deserve a little bit of
pampering from time to time?
Guests can walk to almost anything in the city from the
Chamberlin Inn. And while not a B&B, just around the corner from
the Inn is Peter’s Café & Bakery serving good food at
inexpensive prices with friendly service and local color.
The Inn’s accommodations vary in size and rooms are
individually and tastefully furnished. Bathrooms feature
amenities ranging from footed tubs to glass block shower stalls.
There are several private sitting areas inside the Inn and the
previously mentioned private tree shaded garden is quite
spacious. An afternoon bar is available for the Inn’s guests.
There are no lines at the front desk during check-in. The Inn’s
concierge provides individual service.
While the Chamberlin Inn was a wonderful and relaxing
stopping place on our cross country journey, there is a lot to
do in Cody. A must visit is the world-class Buffalo Bill
|Buffalo Bill Historical Center
in Cody, WY
The museum is a complex of 5 connected
wings. Buffalo Bill’s Museum features his life and exploits. Did
you know Colonel William Cody was presented with the
Congressional Medal of Honor? It’s displayed in his wing.
Other wings include The Plains Indian Museum, the Gallery of
Western Art Museum and a Museum of Natural History. The largest
display space is given over to the Cody Firearms Museum.
This firearms collection is purported to be the largest and
most comprehensive assemblage of American Firearms in the world
displaying both long and hand guns. Virtually every significant
gun manufacturer in the world is represented here. I found the
sheer size of the gun collection overwhelming. Be prepared to
spend time in all of the museums to properly appreciate the
scope of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.
|Rodeo Head Quarters across from
Cody, WY is known as the “Rodeo Capital of the World.” The
6,000 seat Stampede Park sits above the Shoshone River just west
of town. The Rodeo goes on seven nights a week from June 1st
through August 31st. July 1–4 is when the world famous Cody
Stampede takes place featuring some of the nation’s greatest
cowboys but if you can’t make it for this event, any night is a
fun night and attending a regular nightly event was one of the
highlights of our stay. Local talent of all ages is showcased.
It is family oriented. It is local. It is fun and it is real.p>
We would look forward to a return visit to Cody, Wyoming and
would not even consider staying anywhere but at the Chamberlin