In 1917, William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody died of organ failure in Denver, Colorado. He was so well-loved in life and in death that both Wyoming and Colorado wanted his body and both claim to have it. The tales and myths that surround his burial are just as grand as the shows that he participated in during his life.
There are two sides to the story of William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody’s burial. One fact is agreed upon. Cody originally wished to be buried outside of Cody, the town that he established in Wyoming. He established this through a will, but later voided it. Subsequent wills left the decision up to his wife, who chose the site on Lookout Mountain in Golden, Colorado. Cody died early in the year and was not buried until June. Between this time, his body sat at the morgue and was preserved until the open casket funeral could be held. This is where competing version of the following history split between the towns of Cody and Golden.
Golden, Colorado’s version of the tale is rather straightforward. Cody was buried after an open casket funeral during which thousands of people saw the body. It was then placed at Lookout Mountain and remains there to this day. The body is also buried under tons of concrete that was placed there after Cody's foster son heard rumors about trying to move the body of both Cody and his wife. Today, the grave is surrounded by a fence in an attempt to discourage individuals from tossing in coins and features a museum dedicated to the life of Buffalo Bill Cody.
In contrast, Cody, Wyoming claims that Buffalo Bill’s wife was bribed by Denver officials to bury the body in Colorado. She accepted due to the debts that he had incurred during his life. When she returned to Cody, the residents there were disappointed and a few concocted a plan to steal the body from the morgue and replace it with a recently deceased farm hand that had some resemblance to Cody. They took the body to Denver and swapped it with Cody’s while visiting the morgue to pay their respects. With Cody’s body in their possession, they returned with it to Cody, Wyoming, and buried it in a secret location in Spirit Mountain.
Evidence leans towards Colorado’s side of the tale but tensions still remain. Even those in Wyoming who recognize the Lookout Mountain gravesite claim that he should be returned by Denver to the city of Cody. Although this is unlikely to happen, it is interesting that such an compelling man in life remains so controversial in death.