In my opinion, the heartland of America is Nebraska and the heart of the heartland is the town of North Platte. This is where the legendary folk hero of the Wild West, William F Buffalo Bill Cody settled after a varied career that commenced when he signed on as a fourteen year old as a Pony Express rider…and this was just the start of bigger than life adventures that included serving as an army scout along the Santa Fe trail. His life transformed to the stuff of legend when he was invited to perform in New York as a cast member of Ned Buntline’s Wild West Show. Cody founded his new ranch, Scouts Rest in North Platt in 1876. And this became his home base for his world famous Buffalo Bills Wild West show that performed around the world.
Buffalo Bill’s legacy still permeates in and around North Platt. Come along and join Lisa Burk, the Executive Director for the North Platte, Lincoln County Convention & Visitors Bureau as we visit some of the not to be missed experiences such as the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park with Superintendent Jason Tonsfelt. While exploring Scouts Rest, we’ll visit with Rick Wyndham who was putting on a special chuck wagon barbeque dinner. Wyndham is a wild game cookbook author and outdoor adventure Radio host on KODY AM in North Platte.
Nebraskaland Days, the state’s annual festival celebrating its history & traditions and cowboy culture includes parades, live concerts, plays, art shows and much more. Come along and join David Fudge Nebraska Land Days’ Executive Director for a taste of the events, including the Buffalo Bill Rodeo, proclaimed as the oldest rodeo in America.
Fort Cody Trading Post in North Platte, is the state’s largest souvenir store—but its much more than that—as it is one of America’s last standing, family owned roadside attraction… If you’re over 50 you might remember traveling cross country in the family station wagon and being tantalized by advertisements announcing the snake pit, or the café with alligator wrestling out back. just ten miles ahead. Chuck Henline’s father started their first Nebraska roadside attraction right after WWII. And their family business allures included, a two-headed calf, and a Native American family from the Lakota Rosebud reservation who danced out front every summer for more than 20 seasons. We’ll join Chuck Henline at Fort Cody Trading Post as he reminisces about his family business where play tomahawks and kitschy gifts remain super popular with the kids.
A visit to West Central Nebraska would not be complete without at least an hour or two in the saddle. Dusty Barner and his family operate Dusty Trails trail rides right next door to Buffalo Bills Scouts Rest in North Platte. North Platte’s largest city park is fittingly named Buffalo Bill Park… and it’s a mandatory stop for not only an ice cream cone, a climb aboard an old Union Pacific train engine, but most importantly a step back in time to take a ride on a 100 year old merry go round and other rides, hand made by locals…. It really is a Mayberry RFD step back in time at least a half century.
Listen to the show on the Lowell Thomas Award winning NPR.ORG Podcast, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer.