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Cowboys and Indians in Richmond

When Buffalo Bill Came to Town

In the thirty-seven years that “Buffalo” Bill Cody ran his world-famous Wild West Show, he brought it to Richmond nine times from 1888 through 1913. These visits from the former Pony Express rider created weeks of anticipation. Cody’s romanticized dramatizations of the Old West particularly appealed to children. Local stores sold out of cowboy and Indian costumes. Richmond’s dogs endured weeks of lasso practice. 

The festivities began as Cody and his crew – including hundreds of Native Americans, cowboys, buffalo, and horses – arrived via railroad, paraded into town by Main Street, and made their way to the Virginia State Agricultural Exposition building, where the Science Museum of Virginia now stands. There, they set up camp on the fairgrounds with teepees and tents, among their grazing buffalo. 

In the show itself, Cody and the sharpshooter Annie Oakley rode horses around the Expo arena as they shot clay pigeons. Among elaborate sets, Cody’s crew staged epic gun battles, buffalo hunting scenes, and train robberies, bringing the adventure and intrigue of the Old West to one of the South’s largest cities.

Photos: The Valentine

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