Cody, Wyoming, 1897.
To the west of present-day Cody, just south of Rattlesnake Mountain, the South and North Forks of the Sinking Water River (now, by act of the
Legislature, known as the Shonshone) combine. The stream then flows northeastward past some suphurous hot springs now named
after an early settler Charles DeMaris who arrived in the area about 1888 and proved up his homestead
in 1894. Early mountain men named the river from the characteristic aroma emitted by the
springs. Indeed, early hunters noted that the smell of the springs was perceptible several mies downstream.
The river ultimately unites with the Bighorn east of Lovell. The Bighorn in turn flows into the Yellowstone continuing northwest
across Montana until it combines with the Missouri in North Dakota. To the northwest of Cody arises Skull Creek a tributary of
Pat O'Hara Creek which in turn feeds into the Clark's Fork.
Cody, Wyoming, 1899.
Into this area in 1879 about 3,000 head of cattle were
trailed from Oregon to form the nucleus of the Carter Ranch along the South Fork. And to
the area of Pat O'Hara's Creek John Chapman also trailed catte from Oregon in 1879. Chapman's ranch was located near the
present-day Two Dot Ranch.
DeMaris Springs, approx. 1910
The small shed depicted in the image was in place at least by 1897 and was heated in the winter by a stove.
The water from the springs were bottled for their medicinal value by William Yager who later founded the
Cody Bottling Works. Other settlers came: Pat O'Hara after whom the creek is named; George Marquette who came in 1881; Charles L. Green; and
Charles A. Davis.
Davis Ranch along the South Fork of the Stinking Water.
Photo by Frederick Courteney Selous, 1897.
In 1875, the orders had gone forth from Washington that all of the Indians were to return to
their reservation. No longer were they to be permitted to wander free. According to Cody's sister, Helen Cody Wetmore,
in her 1899 The Last of the Great Scouts, The Life Story of Col. William F. Cody
an Arapahoe chief told Buffalo Bill of a wonderous place:
The land to the north and west is the land of plenty.
There the buffalo grows larger, and his coat is darker. There
the bu-yu (antelope) comes in droves, while here there are
but few. There the whole region is covered with the short,
curly grass our ponies like. There grow the wild plums
that are good for my people in summer and winter. There
are the springs of the Great Medicine Man, Tel-ya-ki-ya.
To bathe in them gives new life; to drink them cures every
Mrs. Wetmore relates that in 1882 her brother participated in an exploratory trip on pack mules to the
unexplored interior of Wyoming. Unfortunately, Cody's eyes became inflamed and was thus required to
go blindfolded on the journey. When they reached a certain point, the leader of the
expedition indicated that Cody's blindfolds could be removed. Mrs. Wetmore quotes her
In the mountains beyond the river of the blue water
there is gold and silver, the metals that the white man
loves. There lives the eagle, whose feathers the Indian
must have to make his war-bonnet. There, too, the sun
It is the Ijis (heaven) of the red man. My heart cries
for it. The hearts of my people are not happy when away
from the Eithity T˙gala.
To my right stretched a towering range of snowcapped mountains, broken here and there into
minarets, obelisks, and spires. Between me and this range of lofty peaks a long irregular line
of stately cottonwoods told me a stream wound its way beneath. The rainbow-tinted carpet under
me was formed of innumerable brilliant-hued wild flowers; it spread about me in every
direction, and sloped gracefully to the stream. Game of every kind played on the turf, and
bright-hued birds flitted over it. It was a scene no mortal can satisfactorily describe.
At such a moment a man, no matter what his creed, sees the hand of the mighty Maker of the
universe majestically displayed in the beauty of nature; he becomes sensibly conscious, too,
of his own littleness. I uttered no word for very awe; I looked upon one of nature's
Thus it was, according to Mrs. Wetmore that Cody determined to return.
Instantly my heart went out to my sorrowful Arapahoe friend of 1875. He had not
exaggerated; he had scarcely done the scene justice. He spoke of it as the Ijis, the
heaven of the red man. I regarded it then, and still regard it, as the Mecca of all
Buffalo Bill's T E Ranch, near Meeteetse, undated, photo by F. J. Hiscock
The story must be taken with a grain of salt. The influence of dime novels pervades much of the
writings of Buffalo Bill and his sister. Louisa Cody in her 1919 biography of her husband Memories of Buffalo Bill
sheds little light on why Col. Cody moved to the Big Horn Basin. Nevertheless, in 1894,
Cody permanently moved to the T E Ranch which he had purchased from Carter. About the same time, George T. Beck and
Horace C. Alger of Sheridan had commenced development in the area.
Cody, Wyoming, approx. 1910
Cody was platted in 1895 by Beck and Alger, with whom
William F. Cody joined after learning of the proposed development from his
son-in-law, Horton Boal (1865-1902), one of the surveyors for the project. The first building was constructed
in 1896. Thus, Cody celebrates its founding as 1896. By 1901 the Cody Club, an ancestor of the
Chamber of Commerce, was formed.
Boal was the husband of Cody's oldest daughter Arta. Both Beck and Alger had
run for governor on the Democrat slate and had been defeated. Beck was first
bypassed by President Cleveland for territorial governor, when Cleveland appointed
Thomas Moonlight of Kansas. Beck was then defeated in a race for Congress in 1890 and was
again lost a race for governor in 1902. Alger, a banker, served as mayor of Sheridan in 1889, but
was defeated in the race for governor in 1898.
Originally, Cody proposed to locate the town at the Springs, but eventually
the town was located about a mile downstream. DeMaris Springs were named after Charles DeMaris who homesteaded in the
area in the late 1880's and proved up his homestead in 1894. It was also proposed to call the
town "Shoshone." The name, however, was rejected by the Post Office because of
possible confusion with Shoshoni.
Next Page: Cody continued, Irma Hotel.