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A tour of Buffalo Bill’s barn

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 2:13 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - If you are traveling to the western part of Nebraska, then you’ll definitely want to pay a visit to Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park.

The park is one of seven historical parks in the state of Nebraska. It is here where you can learn about the impact Buffalo Bill Cody has had on our state. And, more specifically, you can get a tour of the beautiful red barn on the ranch.

The barn was built back in 1887, and it was a barn for all of Buffalo Bill Cody’s horses. It was built with no power tools, no cranes, and no lifts. It was completely constructed by hand. Adam Jones is the current superintendent at the ranch, which is now designated as a National Historic Landmark.

“Originally there were two barns on the property,” Jones said. “There was the big red one, and then a T barn where we have our bison now. That T barn burned down quite a while ago. This was a working ranch, and had about 4,000 acres. There were cattle and horses, and during Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, many of the show animals were housed here.”

Jones says the barn was technologically advanced for it’s time.

“They built chutes that are high in the loft that would allow them to stack the hay,” Jones said. “The hay would then run down like a dispenser. They had chutes for the grain. We also feature a number of buggies and wagons from that era inside the barn.”

It turns out the barn has a number of unique features.

“There is a replica under the eaves of the barn of Buffalo Bill’s Winchester,” Jones said. “Each one of the balusters is shaped like his rifle. On the peaks of the barn on the east and west side is an ace of spades. That is a nod to Annie Oakley, who was in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. We all know she was an expert marksman. One of her tricks was to give somebody a playing card. She would back up, put the rifle over her shoulder, look through a mirror and shoot it. So yeah, there are a number of little details on the barn.”

The barn was sold by Buffalo Bill in 1910 to Pawnee Bill.

“When Pawnee Bill sold it, he sold it to our neighbors, the Kuhlmann’s,” Jones said. “They have a working cattle ranch just to the west of us. They used this property until the early 1960′s, when it was turned over to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.”

Jones says the Buffalo Bill Ranch, and the barn, are iconic symbols of North Platte.

“This town has pride in this,” Jones said. “They are very involved in how things look out here. I’m always looking for suggestions on how to make it even better.”

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