Sunday, February 26, 2012


There is an inextricable link between Buffalo Bill Cody and North Platte—what we here in Ogallala (52 miles west) consider the nearest "big town" for a broader range of shopping, etc. The town of North Platte fully embraces its Cody history, as evidenced by everything from the brickwork "gates" containing images of Cody as you enter the city limits off I-80, to the colorful "Fort Cody" museum and gift shop, to Cody Park (with a glassed-in, lifesize statue of Cody at its entrance) to Scout's Rest, which Buffalo Bill built and where he resided during the late 1880s. 

Scout's Rest is now a State Historical Site. Cody initially left it to his sister with the instructions that in the event any "old scout" should travel through in need of a hot meal and a place to rest his head for a night or two, she should accommodate him. Hence the name.

North Platte is also the place where, in 1882, at the behest of the town fathers, Cody staged a rootin'-tootin', ropin' and ridin' exhibition to celebrate the Fourth of July. He called it his "Old Glory Blowout" and it served as the blueprint for what would soon expand and become his world-famous Buffalo Bill's Wild West.

But the piece of North Platte-Cody memorabilia that has always fascinated me the most is the little tavern tucked in a corner off the beaten path down near the Union Pacific railroad tracks. It's called the Alamo Bar and boasts of being in business since 1873. Moreover, it boasts that its still-in-use serving bar also dates back that far and, in its prime, was frequently bellied up to by none other than Bufallo Bill himself.
My days of drinking with any regularity are mostly past, but I'm known to still bend an elbow on occasion. And resting said elbow on the very same bar where Buffalo Bill rested his … well, who could resist?

I don't get over to the Alamo Bar all that often but, whenever I do, the experience, for me, is always the same. Even though the place has changed hands since I started going there (now aiming to be a sports bar) the bar itself is still as it was. Polished-over thousands of times, still a pale brown in color, still scarred and nicked and initial-carved and cigarette-scorched … in short, simply glorious. And when I hitch up a stool and sit down, the chatter and juke box music that otherwise fills the place seems to fade away, perhaps only for a moment or two, and its just me and Ol' Bill … excuse me, sir—Colonel Cody … and maybe one of the North brothers who have dropped by today, maybe even that rascal Print Olive prowling in out of the wild country …

Then the reverie is over and it's back to Now and I know it was all just another piece of a daydream (like us crazy writers are wont to have more often than regular folks). But, brief though it was, it was a grand little fantasy … And I'll be returning to have me another round the first chance I get.

Persevere — WD


Ron Scheer said...

Nicely told. I've explored North Platte but have no memory of coming across the Alamo. I was tickled when I stayed at the hotel in Hyannis which is said to have been around in Col. Cody's time and was a place where, at least once, he rested his head.


Bars like these are the best. My ex-wife and I had a favorite when we lived up around Havre, Montana. It was called The Oxford, or "The Ox," as it was known locally. Probably built in the 1880's--high tin ceiling painted green, right in the heart of old Bull Hook Bottoms.

Great post, Wayne. I have to make a trip up there this summer.