Johnny Baker founded the Buffalo Bill Museum in 1921 near William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody’s grave on Lookout Mountain in Golden, Colorado. It was the first museum dedicated to telling about the life and times of Buffalo Bill.
Baker filled the museum with artifacts, documents and photographs that he had accumulated over 35 years as Buffalo Bill’s foster son. Baker was the same age that Cody’s son, Kit, would have been had he not died of scarlet fever. Cody taught the boy to shoot and nicknamed him the “Cowboy Kid.”
Today the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave Site, one of True West’stop 10 Western museums of 2010, continues Baker’s purpose of educating visitors about the life and times of Buffalo Bill. It is also the repository of more than 1,600 photographs of Buffalo Bill and his life. Images from the museum have been used in everything from PBS documentaries to the lobby of the Wild West show at Disneyland Paris. The photos in this essay, excerpted from Buffalo Bill: Scout, Showman, Visionary, represent rarely seen images of Buffalo Bill and his Wild West in the museum’s collection.