Most People Don't Know The Tragic History Of Wyoming's Most Famous Dam
Cody, Wyoming is home to a lot of incredible things. There’s the luxurious Irma Hotel, the impressive Buffalo Bill Center of the West, and just on the outskirts of town, the Buffalo Bill Reservoir and Dam. The Dam has an incredible history behind it, and most people don’t know just how much sacrifice was made to begin this seemingly impossible project.
The Shoshone Dam was one of the most impressive engineering feats of the early 1900s, and it later served to inspire the world famous Hoover Dam.
The project was one of the first created by the new Department of Reclamation. It involved building roads out towards where the dam currently stands. The roads had to be blasted through mountains, because nothing in Wyoming at the time was simple! In creating the Shoshone Dam, Wyoming's engineers built the first high dam in the United States.
The dam was renamed in honor of Buffalo Bill Cody, and the area is now known as the Buffalo Bill Dam and Reservoir.
Buffalo Bill Cody was the man who founded the town of Cody itself. He was part of the reason the dam project came to life, and the name was changed to honor him after his death.
The dam took six years to build, and it was a dangerous project.
There was no steel reinforcement used to build the dam, and the construction crews went through a huge amount of dynamite. Over those six years, construction accidents caused the death of seven workers, from either blast injuries, falls, or any other number of workplace accidents. Building a dam was a dangerous job.
Those seven construction workers weren't the only victims of the Shoshone Dam project. Have you ever heard of Marquette, Wyoming?
I can say with certainty that you've never visited the town, that's for sure. When countless irrigation projects had failed and it was becoming apparent that a dam was needed, the decision was made to flood the rancher's community of Marquette. It was ideally located at the confluence of the North and South Forks of the Shoshone River, and ranchers were paid for the land they had to give up. Today, it's sort of a underwater ghost town - though efforts were made to move the ranch buildings as they could.
Visiting the Dam is always recommended when you're in the area.
Not only is the reservoir perfect for recreation, but the visitor's center is free to explore, and you'll learn so much about the seemingly impossible project.
Vistors can climb up to the top of the dam, where they'll be 325 feet high above the Shoshone River and Buffalo Bill Reservoir.
At the time of its completion, it was the tallest dam in the world.
If you're feeling brave, look down as you walk across the 200 foot pathway that crosses the dam.
It's truly a dizzying height, but taking a true look will help you appreciate just how much work it must have been to construct this enormous engineering marvel.
You can find the Buffalo Bill Dam and Visitors Center at
4808 N Fork Hwy, Cody, WY 82414. It’s open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Be sure to carve out some time to enjoy the reservoir, too! It’s perfect for fishing and boating, and is certainly one of the
Coolest Waterfront Spots In Wyoming.
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