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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 76

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This is the grave of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody

IMG_2118

Born in 1846 in frontier Iowa, the family moved to Kansas in 1853, where Cody’s father became involved in the Bleeding Kansas conflict, on the side of the abolitionists. He gave a speech and then was stabbed twice by a slavery advocate. In 1857, he traveled to Cleveland to gather anti-slavery advocates to come to Kansas, but ill and not recovered from his stabbing, he died on the trip. This forced young Bill to go to work, at first on wagon trains and then as a scout helping guide the Army to Utah where a Mormon revolt was feared. He claimed to kill his first Indian on this trip, but who really knows. Forgive me if I’m not trusting Buffalo Bill’s autobiography as the purest distillation of truth.

In 1860, Cody, still only 14, moved to Colorado to mine gold. But on the way, he joined the Pony Express and found work with it. He wanted to join the Union Army in 1861, but was too young. He worked with a freight caravan delivering supplies to Fort Laramie until 1863, when he was old enough to volunteer. He served as a teamster with the 7th Kansas Calvary. He was discharged at the end of the war but then reenlisted in 1868 after working for the Kansas Pacific Railroad. By this time, he western experience was becoming extremely valuable and he as named chief of scouts. He was a scout both in the U.S. military’s genocidal campaigns against Native Americans and for hunting parties of rich men. He also shot bison to feed the military and then the Kansas Pacific workers. He killed about 4200 bison in 1867 and 1868 and earned his name “Buffalo Bill.”

In 1869, Cody is just this guy. He’s 23 years old and has worked his whole life. He isn’t really exceptional in any way. But eastern readers and Europeans were increasingly fascinated by the American West. The romance around western conquest was just getting under way. And those readers needed heroes. That year, a writer named Ned Buntline met Cody and then made up a bunch of stories about him to feed the eastern dime novel market. This made Cody famous. Cody himself was happy to take advantage. In 1872, he started taking to the stage to capitalize on his fame, ridiculous as said fame was. Other western “heroes’ joined him over the next few years, such as Wild Bill Hickok. There they reenacted supposed events such as Cody killing Indians. By most accounts, the quality of the acting was atrocious, but the American public didn’t care and the shows sold out everywhere. In 1882, this evolved into Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, his classic act. For decades he toured the U.S. and Europe. Show performers like Annie Oakley became famous on his tours. After the subjugation of the Lakota, Sitting Bull joined briefly as well, reenacting the conquest of his people and his way of life for a little money and food. This is almost the most depressing thing imaginable. Anyway, Cody became famous and he became rich. In 1895, he founded the town of Cody, Wyoming and bought a huge ranch nearby. He hoped to take advantage of the growing tourist traffic into Yellowstone and the town indeed became prosperous for that reason, as it remains today. It wasn’t until the 1900s that the show’s popularity began to wane; finally Cody could no longer pay the bills and the show was foreclosed upon in 1908.

By this time, Cody had a pretty severe drinking problem but he was useful to others. He moved to Denver, where he was kept by local elites to trot out for various events in exchange for booze. He wasn’t poor yet, but his fortune had dwindled to about $100,000, which is about 1.8 million today. But it was a fraction of what he had twenty years earlier. He died in Denver in 1917.

Buffalo Bill wanted to be buried in Cody, Wyoming, which he founded. But Colorado wasn’t about that have that. There was more money to be made of the corpse. He was buried on top of Lookout Mountain, near Golden, overlooking the Plains. Stories were made up that he wanted to this. Then to make sure Wyoming didn’t steal the corpse, they parked a tank next to the grave.

buffalo-bill-grave_tank

Then in 1948, after the American Legion in Cody offered $10,000 to anyone who brought his body back to Wyoming, the Colorado National Guard stood armed watch over the grave. There are people in Wyoming who believe to this day that he was secretly buried there.

Of course Buffalo Bill has been portrayed in film and television only about a zillion times. He’s been played by Paul Newman, Roy Rogers, Charlton Heston, Joel McCrea, Peter Coyote, Stephen Baldwin, and J.K. Simmons, among many others. And naturally enough, he appeared in at least 22 early silent films.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the Buffalo Bills is the stupidest name in the history of professional sports, as Cody had no connection with the city except for performing a few times there.

Buffalo Bill Cody is buried at Lookout Mountain, Golden, Colorado.

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  • Woodrowfan

    are you sure the tank isn’t being positioned there as part of a Liberty Loan campaign? Just parking a tank next to a grave isn’t going to stop someone from grave-robbing. (Parking it ON the grave would).

    • Yeah, it was placed there explicitly to intimidate the Wyoming people. I believe they also laid about a ton of concrete over the actual coffin.

      • muddy

        I like that the ironwork bends inwards and not out – it’s like they are keeping the body itself from escaping.

        • rm

          We could develop this concept into a popular zombie novel. (Money still to be made!)

          • rm

            Or vampire, on second thought. A sequel to the one about Lincoln.

            • “Andrew Johnson and the Vampires Strike Back”

      • Woodrowfan

        wow.

      • celticdragonchick

        It’s French Renault FT-17 tank of all things. Who the hell brought that back from France after the Great War?

        • celticdragonchick

          Oh never mind. We made nearly 1,000 of them under license…

          • Hogan

            Oh poop. I love the version where some Yank smuggles it back on a troopship and keeps it in his barn.

        • BiloSagdiyev

          Same tank used by young Patton, who took things too far, Gus:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_S._Patton#World_War_I

  • Thom

    As a small side note, the Wild West shows in New Orleans seem to have influenced the style of Mardi Gras Indians (African American groups that parade and perform in elaborate costumes, well portrayed in the tv series Treme).

    • Karen24

      A college friend of mine was the granddaughter of one of the Mardis Gras Indian group’s leaders. She had a couple of photographs of Gramps in his outfit in her dorm room, which was sooooo cool. I’m really sorry to have lost touch with her.

      • Thom

        Very cool. You should track her down!

  • Jackson87

    What could a better distillation of American capitalism than using a corpse as a moneymaking scheme?

  • Now I really want the Coen Brothers to make a movie about Wyoming hiring a bunch of comedic ne’er-do-wells to heist Buffalo Bill’s body from Colorado.

    • Mark Field

      Another Roadside Attraction.

  • CrunchyFrog

    Finally, it’s worth noting that the Buffalo Bills is the stupidest name in the history of professional sports, as Cody had no connection with the city except for performing a few times there.

    Well, that beats the Wolverines, which as a species had nothing to do with Michigan. I supposed on the flimsiest of technical grounds you could exclude them based on the word “professional”.

    But even so, the stupidest name in American professional sports, if the criteria is the association with the locale, is the Utah Jazz, with the LA Dodgers and Lakers deserving honorable mentions. At least “Buffalo” is named after the animals that Cody tried to extinctify, so there is some connection. Founded in New Orleans, the Jazz went from he capital of Jazz to the capital of the Morman Tabernacle Choir, where Jazz and Jazz players are extremely difficult to find. We’re talking a state that has outlawed anything resembling adult fun – for that they drive down I-15 to Vegas. It’s like moving Montreal’s hockey team to Oklahoma City but still calling it the Canadiens.

    The Dodgers were one of the best nicknames in sports because it was 100% local – a “Brooklyn Dodger” was a resident of the city in the late 1800s who had to be careful to dodge the extensive street trolley network. Has zero meaning or association with LA. Lakers, of course, were founded in the state of “10,000 Lakes” – they now play in a semi-desert.

    • elm

      Beat me to the punch. I agree with everything but the first paragraph, and not just because I’m a Michigan alum, teams named after animals that never lived there are very common (Florida and Carolina Panthers, to take two pro examples.) As are teams named after peoples not associated with the area (the various Trojans and Spartans, Why are no teams called the Athenians?)

      • wjts

        “Athenians” would seem an obvious choice for either Ohio University or the University of Georgia.

        • gmack

          As an OU alum, I’ll just say that I prefer “Bobcats” for Ohio’s sports teams. They are in fact around in southeastern Ohio. They are nasty little buggers too, though also rather shy and easy to miss, just as OU is, at least in comparison to the other Ohio school a bit northwest of us.

          • Woodrowfan

            AMEN! And we didn’t have to change our name because it was racist (unlike the Miami r**skins)

      • CrunchyFrog

        The critique on the Wolverine is that it’s range was actually pretty close to Michigan, so seems like a local animal (such as the Beavers). No one expects a US team named, for example, the Impalas to actually be located in the historical territory of their namesake.

      • gmack

        Michigan was known as the “Wolverine State” not because of its wolverines, but because it was a trade center where various animal pelts (including wolverines) were exchanged. So saith this site, anyway.

        Here’s my opinion about why “The Athenians” has never been used as a team mascot: (1) ancient Athens, perhaps unfairly, has never been associated with martial culture. Rather, it’s more associated with civilization: philosophy, mathematics, art, architecture, democracy, and so on. (2) Athens still exists as an important city (note, for instance, “Romans” is also not used as a team mascot). The mascot, “Athenians,” would not just refer to some mythologized military sorts, but also to actually existing residents of a particular city.

        • N__B

          To your second point, there are Athenaeums, where people go for high-minded debate. There are no Spartanaeums.

        • rm

          But you can make anything a team name by putting “Fightin'” in front.

          E.G., the Fighting Quakers of Guilford College. (It’s a theme in North Carolina — see also Fighting Christians, Demon Deacons, Battling Bishops. I think there were some other oxymoronic team names, but many of them have been changed to MLS-style ridiculous adjectives).

          • busker type

            My god, MLS team names are so bad

      • muddy

        Sounds liberal. They were Democrats weren't they?

      • Cheerfull

        I’m a Michigan alum, teams named after animals that never lived there are very common (Florida and Carolina Panthers, to take two pro examples.

        an oversized house cat that lives in the swamp would like to have a word with you and use your protein to increase its endangered population:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_panther

        • Just_Dropping_By

          I was going to ask if he was kidding when he chose “Florida Panthers” as one of his examples. (And “Carolina Panthers” is also a poor choice because the Florida panther’s original range extended into the Carolinas, although they are extinct there today: http://www.ncwildlife.org/Portals/0/Learning/documents/Profiles/Cougar.pdf )

        • elm

          Huh, I thought that the only panthers in the Americas were leopards, which do not live in FL or NC. Did not realize that cougars were panthers, too. OK, so my example sucks, but my point still stands! (I feel like Jonah Goldberg all of a sudden.)

          • LosGatosCA

            Are you a liberal feeling a little fascist?

      • Denverite

        teams named after animals that never lived there are very common (Florida and Carolina Panthers, to take two pro examples.)

        Point of fact, a lot of people just use “panther” to refer to the big cats, including cougars. Google tells me that there’s an actual “Florida panther” (an endangered subspecies of cougar), and that cougars at least used to live in the Carolinas.

      • Scott P.

        I’m a Michigan alum, teams named after animals that never lived there are very common (Florida and Carolina Panthers, to take two pro examples.)

        “Panther” is not a species of felid, but a name given to a felid with melanism, so they do not form a monophyletic group. A black jaguar is a panther, as is a black leopard, as is a black cougar, and cougars do live in North Carolina and Florida.

        • elm

          Panther is actually the genus that includes the species of lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars. Cougars are not part of the Panthera genus, but the puma genus which is why I didn’t realize they are colloquially called panthers, too.

        • Tehanu

          The panther is like a leopard
          Except it hasn’t been peppered.
          When you behold a panther crouch,
          Prepare to say, “Ouch.”
          Better yet, when called by a panther,
          Don’t anther.

          — Ogden Nash, who else?

      • Hogan

        The Mycenaeans, the Corinthians, the Thebans, the Thessalians, the Thracians . . . the Philistines, the Medes, the Assyrians, the Neo-Assyrians, the Huns, the Ostrogoths, the Vandals . . . so many choices.

      • witlesschum

        Panther equals cougar equals mountain lion, so you could find one in Florida or North Carolina.

        • witlesschum

          I couldn’t see all the other related responses when I posted this, for some reason.

      • cleter

        There’s a panther species native to Florida.

    • Thlayli

      The New York Rangers’ name is also a pun; they were dubbed “Tex’s Rangers” after MSG president “Tex” Rickard. This happened roughly 50 years before there was a “Texas Rangers” that actually played in Texas.

      • wjts

        I always assumed it was derived from other sports teams like Queens Park Rangers or Glasgow Rangers.

        • Denverite

          Just Rangers. Huns.

          • wjts

            Usually just Rangers, yes, but speaking as a sometime amateur student of football songs and chants, the construction “Glasgow Rangers” is not uncommon. And probably more informative for an audience that may not be terribly familiar with Scottish football.

      • CrunchyFrog

        You may know this, but for others the Texas Rangers are named after a real historical entity that still exists:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_Ranger_Division

        I’ve always been partial to team names that reflect the locale, even if I loathe the team itself. Thus, the 49ers, Steelers, Packers, Brewers, Rockies, Texas Rangers, New Orleans Jazz, Mets, Astros, Whalers, Pistons, Pacers. 76ers seems like trying too hard to make something up, though.

        Some teams have a strong local connection but could be applied elsewhere: Vikings (reflecting the original Scandinavian immigrants in that area), Patriots, Cowboys, Saints, Buccaneers, Ravens, Pilots (first Seattle baseball team), Diamondbacks, Oilers (x2), Celtics (similar to Vikings), Padres, Maple Leafs, Blues, North Stars, Orioles.

        Some names aren’t connected with the locale but have been around so long that the name itself is historic: Knickerbockers, Reds (Red stockings). You could argue that Yankees and Cowboys, although relatively recent, are in that class as well.

        On the other hand, using the locale in the name is cheating: Texans, Canadiens. Not sure about Canucks and Nordiques.

        Worst has to be the Browns. Named after the founder of their in-state rival. No, really.

        • keta
          • keta

            The Case of the Missing Edit Function really needs to be solved.

          • CrunchyFrog

            I didn’t know that about the Canucks – should have looked it up, was relying on hearsay from my youth. That’s pretty cool. Would be like renaming the Browns the Appleseeds. Or renaming the Wild (which desperately need to be renamed) the Bunyons. Have to admit both would sound pretty weird at first.

        • No Longer Middle Aged Man

          Worst has to be the Browns. Named after the founder of their in-state rival. No, really.

          That’s a very argumentative way to put it. Paul Brown was the founder and first coach of the Cleveland Browns. He coached them to 3 championships. Their most famous player, and still to my mind the best running back ever, coincidentally also was named Brown. Yes 20 or 30 years later Paul Brown was involved in founding the Bengals. It’s really not what he is know for.

          • CrunchyFrog

            I was being pithy. The longer main argument is that: 1) No other team in North American professional sports uses as a nickname their first coach or even a great player. Would be cool if the Winnepeg Jets were named after Bobby Hull’s nickname, but they weren’t. 2) The name is a common color, and the second-most boring one at that (Beige), and so few fans know the origin.

            To me that by itself is enough. But add in: 1) this is a city with a reputation for being boring, and you’re going to give it a name like “Browns”?, 2) Oh, by the way, the team hasn’t won a championship since the original coach left over 50 years ago, and 3) every year they play a game in their home state in a stadium named after their namesake coach, but it’s their rival’s stadium.

        • wjts

          Hartford was never a whaling town, though, what with it being 30 or 40 miles from the nearest shore. The Hartford Actuaries, though, that would be a team name that reflects the proud history and traditions of that great American city.

          • No Longer Middle Aged Man

            “City of light, city of magic” as I always refer to it. A slightly less dynamic version of a state capital than Albany. However, in fairness, also a major firearms manufacturing center at one time so they could credibly go for a more, unh, explosive name than the “Actuaries.”

            • wjts

              In fairness, the place does have its charms. Hartford Stage is (or at least was – I haven’t seen a play there in over a decade) a legitimately great regional theater and Cinestudio is my favorite movie theater in the world.

            • ajay

              However, in fairness, also a major firearms manufacturing center at one time so they could credibly go for a more, unh, explosive name than the “Actuaries.”

              One of London’s teams is actually called “Arsenal”.

          • N__B

            The Whalers started in Boston.

          • Origami Isopod

            The Hartford Stags.

          • Hogan

            Claims Adjusters would work too. Those guys are hard-ass.

          • WNPR radio host was pushing Hartford Huckleberrys for the new minor league baseball team. Hartford is the home of Twain’s house and where he wrote the book.

            They went with “Yard Goats” whatever that is.

            • Rob in CT

              It’s a term for a switcher engine in a rail yard. Which… I love railroading history and I should be tickled by the name, but nope. It sucks.

              Huckleberrys(ies?) would’ve been good! Damn.

              And yeah, YUCK IT UP about boring insurance guys. Hardy-har-har…

              ;)

    • West of the Cascades

      To be fair to the hapless football team in Buffalo, it has never (to my knowledge, as a fan since 1973) tried to trade on Buffalo Bill Cody – no buckskin fringed merchandise, no “cowboys and indians” motifs. I could also be in denial.

      Also, too, the city of Buffalo may be named after the Niagara River (“beau fleuve” to the French Father Hennepin), although it’s not clear what the origin of the city’s name is.

      I do think that if the Bills manage another three years without going to the playoffs (a 20-year drought at that point), they should consider renaming the team.

      Ironically, there is a Canadian County and Canadian River in Oklahoma, so they might only need to change the spelling of “Canadiens.”

      • No Longer Middle Aged Man

        Canadian River in Oklahoma

        Mentioned in the Byrds version of the song Pretty Boy Floyd, not certain about Guthrie’s original.

        • Thom

          It also runs through the Texas Panhandle.

      • My favorite origin myth of the Buffalo name is that the indigenous toponym for the river was a (Seneca?) expression meaning “Beaver Creek” and the interpreter mistranslated it. Sadly, probably not true.

        It’s not likely there were any actual bison east of Lake Erie at the time the name arose, per Wikipedia’s account, so it’s kind of appropriate for a city named after something that wasn’t there to have an NFL team named after somebody who didn’t show up either.

      • Mark Centz

        Rename the Bills? The headlines for the return to the playoffs have been set in stone carbonite – Bills Come Due Can’t miss those.

      • Hogan

        The Buffalo Blizzard. (drops mic)

        • Buffalo Wild Wings

        • N__B

          Their cheerleaders could be called the Lake Effect.

    • The Memphis Grizzlies were originally in Vancouver.

      Although Memphis can be pretty grisly at times.

    • Woodrowfan

      At least the Twins and the Rangers didn’t keep calling themselves the “Senators.” The Twins should call themselves the “White Flight” as supposedly Griffith moved the team because DC was becoming “too black”

      • Darkrose

        Sounds like the Atlanta baseball team should get rid of the Native name and go with truth in advertising and call themselves the Cobb County White Flights.

        And it will never cease to amuse me that the Atlanta Negro League team was the Atlanta Black Crackers.

    • Origami Isopod

      Someone did joke, years ago, that in L.A. playing baseball was like trying to cross the highway: You’re either a Dodger or an Angel.

    • Murc

      The Dodgers were one of the best nicknames in sports because it was 100% local – a “Brooklyn Dodger” was a resident of the city in the late 1800s who had to be careful to dodge the extensive street trolley network. Has zero meaning or association with LA.

      It does now, tho. The Dodgers have been LAs baseball team for fifty years now. Where I come from, that means that word has a hell of a lot of meaning and association with LA.

    • Colin Day

      Speaking of Utah, what about Real Salt Lake? Are we talking real as opposed to fake, or real in the sense of “royal”? The latter makes no sense in the US.

    • rea

      It’s like moving Montreal’s hockey team to Oklahoma City but still calling it the Canadiens.

      Although Oklahoma City sits on the North Canadian River, so it all fits.

  • keta

    The romance around western conquest was just getting under way. And those readers needed heroes. That year, a writer named Ned Buntline met Cody and then made up a bunch of stories about him to feed the eastern dime novel market. This made Cody famous. Cody himself was happy to take advantage. In 1872, he started taking to the stage to capitalize on his fame, ridiculous as said fame was. Other western “heroes’ joined him over the next few years, such as Wild Bill Hickok. There they reenacted supposed events such as Cody killing Indians. By most accounts, the quality of the acting was atrocious, but the American public didn’t care and the shows sold out everywhere.

    Boy, there’s an American appetite that will never be slaked.

    • prufrock

      Hey, you leave Michael Bay alone!

  • elm

    Utah Jazz remains much sillier, still. As does L.A. Lakers. Maybe Buffalo Bills earns the award for “Worst original name” rather than “Worst name created by a team moving.”

    • At least the Jazz and Lakers were both names that followed the teams from much more appropriate cities.

    • rm

      Arizona Cardinals

    • JustRuss

      I’ll give the LA Lakers a pass for awesome alliteration.

  • wjts

    Not terribly relevant, but of the Indians who toured with Cody’s Wild West shows is occasionally touted as an unconvincing Ripper suspect.

    • Karen24

      Thanks! That’s quite fascinating, in a grim and horrible way, but still fascinating.

    • rm

      Fascinating, how suspicion turned on Americans and that one of them was Black Elk, a famous historical figure. The link says that some of the touring cowboys were also questioned — maybe that’s where the TV show Penny Dreadful got the idea for (spoiler!) a cowboy sharpshooter werewolf as the Ripper. (Of course, the murders didn’t all take place on full moons, but whatever). (First two seasons are good, skip the third).

      • wjts

        I only saw the first season, but I’d be very surprised if that wasn’t the case, at least in part.

  • the stupidest name in the history of professional sports
    No particular reason why, but I’ve always liked/laughed at Nippon Ham Fighters.

    • rm

      There’s a special, hilarious category for corporate-branded team names.

    • Origami Isopod

      That’s a very … anime-sounding name.

    • Darkrose

      I’m fond of the Hiroshima Carp.

    • Thlayli

      Officially the name has a hyphen: Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.

    • Grumpus

      Don’t forget the King Faisal Babes of Ghana.

      Perhaps you could travel with Nigeria’s Wikki Tourists.

      You can guess who sponsors Botswana Meat Commission F.C.

      Australia’s National Rugby League contains the Sydney Roosters, the Parramatta Eels, and the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

      No list can be complete without a trip to Switzerland, home of Young Boys.

  • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

    “Philadelphia Phillies” is actually a pretty dumb name if you think about it.

    Or, take “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim,” and try to translate it into Spanish.

    • Jordan

      Thats like saying the Houston Texans have a stupid name!

      … wait

    • keta

      The “Mighty Ducks” moniker was asinine, unless you were a big fan of synergy, or Disney Corp., or a really really shitty movie franchise.

      And while it’s long since become iconic, “Packers”, after a packing company, is laughable as well.

      • rm

        But Packers is like Steelers or Whalers, named for an iconic industry (meat packing . . . surely there was more than one company?).

        • Origami Isopod

          The Palo Alto Codepunchers
          The Plano Turbines
          The Montana Frackers
          The D.C. Fluffers

          • Darkrose

            Since the 49’ers are no longer in San Francisco, I kind of like the Santa Clara Techbros as the new name.

          • Woodrowfan

            The fluffers should be in San Fernando Valley

          • Colin Day

            The Palo Alto Fighting Knuths.

          • If Plano gets a team they should go with the Plano Regular Folk.

      • Tom in BK

        Easy. EASY.

        The Mighty Ducks was a perfectly serviceable movie franchise. I would happily watch either of the first two if they were to appear on cable some afternoon when I had nothing else to do. It’s not the movies’ fault that their legacy was sullied by the NHL.

    • Richard Hershberger

      ‘“Philadelphia Phillies” is actually a pretty dumb name if you think about it.’

      This is because it is an older naming paradigm shoe-horned into the newer. They originally were the Philadelphia Club, as contrasted with the Boston Club, Cincinnati Club, etc. The usual pattern to refer to the teams was the “Philadelphias,” “Bostons,” “Cincinnatis,” etc. In the base of the Philadelphias, this was rapidly shortened, for the obvious that “Philadelphias” is clumsy as all heck, to “Phillies.” This nickname stuck, so later one when the format of “[city name][team nickname]” became standard, this resulted in the awkward “Philadelphia Phillies.”

  • Denverite

    I like Lookout Mountain. It’s an easy way to get a “mountainy” experience from Denver in a couple of hours. Wake up at a reasonable hour, drive up to the top of the mountain, hike around for an hour, and then you can drive down the switchback and be in Golden for an early lunch. Plus there’s a fudge shop at the top that’s delicious (they say it’s the altitude — about 7400 feet).

    The Buffalo Bill Cody museum is a huge waste of time and money though.

    • Yeah, the museum is terrible.

      • Denverite

        Btw, I assume it’s an old picture, but the snow on the grave indicates maybe not (Golden got snow on Friday). Let me know if you’re around and want to grab a beer or whatnot.

        • I took this pic in January

          • Denverite

            Alas, drop me a line next time! I’ll buy you a ketchup-flavored vodka martini.

  • Jordan

    Hmmm, brings up the question: stupidest name for each NA professional sport

    MLS) 1-through-whatever (Tied)
    NBA) Jazz. Runners-up: Knicks (but only for our modern age), thunder (fuck you stern, fuck you Schultz, fuck you bennet)
    NFL) Bills, ok, interesting case, had not thought of that. Also: Texans. But just kidding, actual answer: Redskins.
    MLB) Expos (lol, just kidding). Red Sox, White Sox (what can I say: I find this sort of thing dumb). Strong nominees above for Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Dodgers.
    NHL) Ducks. Uhhh …. Canadians? Seems presumptuous.

    Best team names:

    NBA) Denver Nuggets (hehehe)
    MLB) No entry
    NHL) Devils
    MLS) No entry
    NFL) Houston Oilers (jk). Ummmm …. Steelers or Packers, I guess, but those are boring.

    Surely you all can do better!

    • Denverite

      White Sox (what can I say: I find this sort of thing dumb)

      So the “Sox” etymology is that towards the beginning of the 20th century, a lot of teams went by the name “[Color] Stockings.” At the time, games were “broadcast” via ticker tape machine, and the operators would get tired spelling out “Stockings” so they abbreviated it “Sox.”

      • Jordan

        I am 100% sure this is true but it still gets my knickerbockers in a twist.

      • Origami Isopod

        Hence, also, the Cincinnati Red[leg]s.

        • Origami Isopod

          N/m, should’ve scrolled up and read.

        • Jordan

          See, they moved with the times. Admittedly that is now going to be tougher for the Red Sox.

      • Richard Hershberger

        It is considerably older than that. In 1868 the Cincinnati Base Ball Club adopted a novel uniform style, with knickerbocker pants and red stockings. The rest of the baseball community thought this was hilarious, until the following year when the Cincinnati Club started wiping the floor with everyone else. This led to a fashion shift, with most clubs adopting the knickerbocker style. It also opened up the nickname pattern. The Cincinnati Club rapidly came to be called the “Red Stockings.” This was imitated by, e.g., the “White Stockings” in Chicago and the “Brown Stockings” in St. Louis. In later years this form was often shortened either to, e.g., “Red Sox” or simply “Reds.”

        This carried through the 1880s. The clubs we now know as the Cubs, Cardinals, and Braves were then known by their traditional stocking color. Then in the 1890s the fashion changed and many National League clubs walked away from these traditions.

        This opened the field for the American League in the 1900s to recycle the traditional local names, which is how we got the Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox, and St. Louis Browns. When the Browns moved to Baltimore a half century later they adopted the traditional Baltimore team nickname of Orioles, which derives from a coincidence in coloration of a species of bird and the Maryland flag.

        • Jordan

          Man I was hoping for LGM’s resident way-old-timey baseball scholar to weigh in :).

    • wjts

      MLS team names have improved dramatically. For a while, and I am not making this up, the Kansas City team was the Kansas City Wiz. Sporting Kansas City is a significant improvement.

      • Jordan

        I guess something jars me about them just wholesale adopting naming styles from european clubs with no connection. My ostensible team is even named after clubs sponsored by the freaking soviet secret police (or so I have been lead to believe).

        Do something original. Portland and Seattle do this right in the MLS, so I guess they are better than the others.

        • wjts

          Originality is hard, and I reckon swiping European-style team names is better than 1990’s “x-treme” names like “Miami Fusion” or “Dallas Burn”.

          • Jordan

            Originality is hard, but straight swiping names from established teams is very easy, and most of them did that.

            I agree it is better than “miami fusion” or “dallas burn”.

            • wjts

              Using European club naming conventions is (relatively) recent. When I was going to MLS games in the late 90s/early 2000s, the teams were:

              L.A. Galaxy
              San Jose Earthquakes/San Jose Clash
              Dallas Burn
              Kansas City Wizards/Kansas City Wiz
              Chicago Fire
              Columbus Crew
              D.C. United
              Miami Fusion
              Tampa Bay Mutiny
              New England Revolution
              New York/New Jersey Metrostars

              Stolen European names, even ones like “Real Salt Lake” that don’t make any sense, are vast improvements.

              • Jordan

                No argument that the stolen european names are better than the crappy originals. But … could be better!

                (I like Chicago Fire, tho)

              • Colin Day

                What’s wrong with New England Revolution?

                • N__B

                  It’s a 45 but the turntable is set to 33.

              • busker type

                D.C. United is the original euro-style MLS name.
                Also “sounders” would be the best name in MLS if it didn’t have the connotation of a bizarre sexual practice that I learned about from Dan Savage… so I gotta go with Columbus Crew which would be near the bottom of any other league.

      • Darkrose

        The MLS Chicago team used to be the Chicago Sting. I actually kind of liked that.

        • wjts

          The Sting were the NASL club. The MLS team has always been the Fire.

      • rm

        Yes, when they stopped listening to branding experts and started imitating European/Latin American team naming traditions, the names got better. Orlando City is good. Anything with “FC” is acceptable, and “_______ United” is weak but still better than most of the “creative” names. Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake (“real” as in Spanish for “royal”) is great.

        I also like Portland Thorns and Seattle Reign in women’s soccer, but maybe that’s because competition in that league is basically between those two teams. And cool logos.

      • rm

        Looks like I’m in conflict with Jordan, above, but I have to agree Sounders, Timbers are also good names.

        Maybe it looks desperate or smells of appropriation to copy naming styles, but it’s not as bad as Red Bulls or Crew.

        • Jordan

          Ya, as always, I have been educated about my stupid original opinion. Anything FC is fine, so that also counts. I still think X united is pretty crappy (but could be convinced otherwise). I think Real Salt Lake and Sporting KC are still just copycats (even if pretty good ones, relatively speaking).

          You are right (along with wjts) that some of those original names were pretty trash, and almost all of them are better than Red Bulls.

          • rm

            But I have to concede your point that purely copying an established club name like “Real,” as opposed to using naming conventions, is kind of lame and maybe problematic. It would be like a Venezuelan or Japanese baseball team calling themselves the Yankees.

            • wjts

              “Real” is just another naming convention, though, like “Sporting” or “United”. In addition to Real Madrid, there’s Real Sociedad, Real Betis, Real Valladolid, etc.

              • Jordan

                Ya, I’m also not a soccer expert at all (WHICH WONT PREVENT ME FROM OPINING ON THE INTERNET). I forgot about the Basque one, and since my hometown is apparently more or less basque central in north america, Real X now meets my approval :).

                (I’m really kidding with all of this. Getting multiple real teams for anything thats just a naming convention convinces me now).

                • Jordan

                  Or! Or a naming convention!

                • N__B

                  a naming convention!

                  You’ve got to get 3/4 of the clubs to agree to calling the convention, and then you run the risk that the nutters will extend the second amendment to cover referees’ sidearms.

              • Yes, but… there’s no monarchy here. How can anything be “Royal”?

                • Thlayli

                  To be scrupulously pedantic, the area was property of the king of Spain for a couple hundred years.

                  In reference to the Red Bulls upthread, as a fan of the team what I’ll say is the name is not the biggest problem we have with the ownership.

                • rea

                  Kansas City Royals (who apparently were the inspiration for the Lourdes song).

    • Gator90

      My favorite pro sport team names are in minor league hockey. Greenville Swamp Rabbits… Louisiana IceGators… Orlando Solar Bears!

      • Jordan

        Orlando Solar Bears? ORLANDO SOLAR BEARS?!??!?

        Hell ya, that is a great name. As are those other two.

      • Thlayli

        Albany River Rats.

      • keta

        Ah yes, The East Coast Hockey League. Home, too, to the Idaho Steelheads.

        For those that don’t know, steelheads are rainbow trouts that go to sea and then return to fresh water to spawn which, unlike salmons, they do more than once.

    • Jackson87

      NBA: Celtics
      MLB: Undecided
      NHL: Capitals
      MLS: IDK
      NFL: Ravens

      Also, Orlando Magic deserves the same scorn as Mighty Ducks, for the identical reason

      • Jordan

        are those the worst? Whats wrong with celtics and ravens?

        And 100% spot on about the Magic.

        • mnuba

          Aren’t the Toronto Raptors a Jurassic Park tie-in?

          • rm

            Yes.That movie taught millions of people that “raptor” is only a kind of dinosaur and not also a name for birds of prey.

            If they were smart cared what I think they would replace the dinosaur logo with a bird of prey (who are also dinosaurs, after all).

          • Jordan

            Nah, it was a Chris Bosh tie-in.

    • When Columbus OH got its NHL team many of us wanted to call it the “Mad Cows”.

      Our minor league hockey team (Columbus Chill) as a joke played one game as the Mad Cows, complete with bovine themed jerseys.

      • Jordan

        Hmmm. Does skyline make it up to Columbus or nah?

        (great story though)

        • Yes, we do have Skyline. Now you’re making me hungry.

          • I’m sorry you have been invaded by America’s worst local food tradition

            • I’ll be sure to put ketchup on it in your honor.

          • Jordan

            :)

            then that is so close to being a perfect minor league hockey team name :)

      • rm

        Blue Jackets is one of the best team names. It’s original, sounds cool, and refers to the manufacture of Union uniforms in Columbus during the Civil War.

        • busker type

          Doesn’t refer to the Shawnee war chief Blue Jacket?

          • rm

            I just know what I read somewhere.

    • mnuba

      Nuggets are pretty good, but I gotta go with the Portland Trail Blazers for best NBA team name.

      • For a town that isn’t really much of a sporting town, we have some solid team names. Trail Blazers, Timbers, Thorns. And they all make a solid allusion to the region, which is nice.

    • Mark Centz

      Don’t understand why people keep misspelling the OKC Plunder.

      (fuck you stern, fuck you Schultz, fuck you bennet)

      Yep, yep, yep.

      • Jordan

        you heard it here first: Ballmer moves the Clippers to seattle in 2019 or 2020 (whenever Harden’s contract runs out). Durant and Westbrook take 1 year deal + opt ins until then. The Clippers move, rename themselves the sonics, sign all three in free agency. BOOM.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      not pro, maybe not even all that bad, but I learned this winter the Long Beach State college baseball team is known as the “Dirtbags”

      • Jordan

        fantastic

  • David Allan Poe

    There’s a direct line from those Wild West shows to the epidemic of reality shows purportedly demonstrating the real lives of tough-living rural people. Same audience, too.

  • William F. Buffly.

  • Murc

    Then in 1948, after the American Legion in Cody offered $10,000 to anyone who brought his body back to Wyoming

    Is this offer still valid? Asking for a friend.

    More seriously, if Colorado is still refusing to repatriate the body, that’s shameful on the part of the state.

  • Matt McKeon

    Cody was brought in, or somehow was inserted into the Wounded Knee crisis, because of his previous relationship with Sitting Bull. He didn’t have a direct role in the massacre or Sitting Bull’s killing, but the details of his role elude me.

  • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

    The Kansas Pacific Railway is a footnote in history, but at one point it looked like it might become the eastern half of the Transcontinental Railroad instead of the Union Pacific.

    A lot of railroads in the early days were money-making schemes, ranging from outright fraud where money would be raised from investors to build a line and the owners would run off with the funds, to varying schemes involving using construction companies secretly owned by the railroad’s CEOs who would overcharge the railroad for substandard work. The KP fell into the latter category, but the UP wasn’t much better at the time.

    However, the man behind the KP was murdered by someone he had defrauded, while the UP finally hired a competent person to manage the construction. The KP eventually completed its line from just west of Kansas City to Denver, running through poorly-populated Kansas to the relatively small town of Denver, using federal land grants and other payments. The UP line paralleled it to the north, running through Nebraska and Cheyenne.

    Lacking much traffic, the KP was bought cheap by Jay Gould, considered by most to be the cagiest of the railroad tycoons and was merged into the UP. It languished for over a century as a lightly-used rail line. In recent years the UP has upgraded the line in order to add additional capacity and flexibility to what is still their main line running on the northern route through Nebraska.

  • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

    Erik, if you decide to visit Polk’s grave you might want to wait a bit as apparently they’re considering moving it yet again.

    (IMO this moving the bodies of famous people is only slightly less weird than all of the supposed pieces of the bodies of Jesus and his disciples which were trafficked around medieval Europe, primarily.)

  • busker type

    Dammit, this piece casts a lot of doubt on a beloved family story about my wife’s grandmother meeting Cody as a little girl… are you sure he didn’t live til, like, 1919 or 1920?

    • I ruin everything.

      • N__B

        Have you applied for a job in the Trump administration?

        Where have you gone Doctor Eric Loomis
        A nation turns its lonely eyes to you
        Ooo ooo ooo

        • N__B

          Goddamned missing edit. I really do know ho to spell your name. Sorry.

  • kenkohl

    And the Buffalo Bills are buried in the southeast end zone of New Era Field.

  • John F

    Finally, it’s worth noting that the Buffalo Bills is the stupidest name in the history of professional sports, as Cody had no connection with the city except for performing a few times there.

    The AAA Baseball team name is perhaps worse if you think about it:

    Buffalo Bisons…

    Anyway, there were no Buffalo or Bison in what is now Buffalo, NY, Buffalo NY was originally “named” beau flux since the water flowing from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario was so fine and wonderful…

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