Cody Road

From Wyoming Tales and Trails

Continued from previous page, this page: Pahaska Lodge.



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Fording Shoshone River, approx. 1902. Artwork by G. B. Dobson

When Cody was founded, there was no direct access to Yellowstone Park. What would later be known as the Cody Road had not yet been laid out. Access to the park required a trip over the daunting Dead Indian Hill to Cooke City and then into the park to Mammoth. IN 1902, a used railway bridge was purchased from the Burlington System and provided the first access to the west side of the river without fording the stream.


Fording Shoshone River, approx. 1902. Artwork by G. B. Dobson.

Although the new bridge provided access to Marquette and ranches on the west side, it was not until three years later that a direct route to Yellowstone was available. The Cody Enterprise, October 20, 1004, reported that representatives of the passenger department of the Burlington investigated the roadway from Cody to the Park. They reported that the road from Marquette west for 12 0r 15 miles was not in proper condition. It was, therefore proposed that that Congress be requsted to authorized to appropriate funds for the construction of the road.


Distant view of Bridge over Shoshone River, undated

To the west of Cody, the South and North Forks of the Stinking Water combine. In 1902 the Legislature renamed the River as the Shoshone.


Bridge over Shoshone River, 1911

The river had been discovered and named in 1807-08 trapping expeditions on behalf of Manuel de Lisa by John Colter. The river took its name of Stinking Water from the sulphurous springs near Cody.


Pahaska Teepee, undated

In 1901 Col. Cody selected the site for the Pahaska Teepee 1 1/2 miles from the entrance to Yellowstone Park. The hotel was located at the confluence of the North Fork of the Shoshone and Middle Creek. Pahaska was an Indian name for Cody (see Buffalo Bill).


Cody Road along North Fork Shoshone River, 1904.

Even though Yellowstone National Park is primarily in Wyoming, prior to 1899 the only practical access to the Park was through Montana. Consideration of the construction of a wagon road from Wyoming into the Park dates back as far as 1881 when Territorial Governor John W. Hoyt visited the Park with the view of locating a route for a road into the Park without the necessity of traveling into Idaho and Montana. Government tends to move slowly and it was not until 1899, that a wagon road was constructed from Fort Washakie to Yellowstone over Togwotee Pass.

Cody Road, 1907, photo by F. J. Hiscock

Governor Hoyt in his annual report discussed a route along the North Fork of the Stinking Water earlier explored by Capt. William A. Jones in 1873. Governor Hoyt noted the advantages and disadvantages of the route:

It also has the advantage of leading almost at once, after crossing the divide, to the foot of Yellowstone Lake, where the most important improvements are likely to be placed. Nor is it wanting, along the Stinking Water, in fine scenery, timber, or good water, for the mountains are covered with forests, and the river, so outraged by its name, is a pure and beautiful stream as far down as we saw it, having its sources among the loftiest of the Sierras and being well supplied with trout. It has the disadvantage of partly lying through a section (between the Wind River and the Ishawooa) not well supplied with water at all points in the dry season, of requiring many more bridges than the Wind River route, besides a considerable amount of rock in the canyon, and, finally, of having a much less easy grade at and near the summit of the divide.

Construction of the road along the Stinking Water, however, did not occur until until 1903. As indicated in the photo, the road was little more than a trail. The Pahaska was opened for business in 1904, although not completed until 1905. Rates at the hotel were $3.00 a day or $15.00 a week. Amenities included baths and a long distance telephone.

On his 1916 inspection tour Park Service Director Mather was no more impressed with the Pahaska that he was with the Irma. Albright later wrote:

Just before we reached the entrance to Yellowstone, Mather had us stop at the Pahaska Lodge, also owned and operated by Buffalo Bill Cody. It turned out to be just as bad as the Irma, if not worse. Lunch was one dollar, far too much for the horrible, greasy, inedible food served by loud, boisterous, grimy, but glitzy waitresses. Mather muttered to me, "Could Cody be operating a combination eating place and brothel?" After studying the situation, he ordered us not to eat a bite. He threw cash on the table (fifty cents per person) and stalked out, vowing to make the place change or he'd close it.
Of course, he had no more jursidiction over the Pahaska than he had over the Shoshone Dam, but if he decided to do something, it got done. I had learned that much about Stephen Mather in the year and a half I'd been around him.

Earlier in the day, Mather wishing to inspect the Shoshone Dam, had ordered his chauffeur to break off a padlock on the gate which impeded Director Mather's inspection and had ordered a dam attendant to demolish unsightly buildings.


Photo Montage of Pahaska Teepee, approx. 1911, by A. G. Lucier.

The automobile is a White steamer used to bring guests to the hotel from Cody. The steam-powered automobile would leave daily from the Irma at noon and would arrive at the Pahaska in time for dinner. The automobiles were introduced in 1909 at the urging of Jake Schwoob, manager of the Cody Trading Company who was an early autombile enthusiast. Indeed, when registration plates were introduced in the state, Schwoob was honored by having license plate number 1.

Cody expressed to Gordon Lillie, his partner in the Wild West show, that his only desire was to be able to retire to the Pahaska. But because of his declining finances as, Cody was able to visit the hotel only about six times before his death. In 1913, Cody hosted Albert, Prince of Monaco, at the Pahaska. Cody's health, as noted on the previous page, had begun to deteriorate and he was no longer able to act as a guide.


Hunting Party led by Col. Cody, 1907

Cody's autumn hunting parties were not without risk. The New York Tribune, October 30, 1906, reported that one of his parties with British army officers and several Austrians were lost in an October blizzard. They were not really lost, but were delayed by several days by the snow.


Cody Road, Winter, approx. 1911. Photo by A. G. Lucier.

Next Page: Cody Road Continued, Holm Lodge, Tex Holm, Ned Frost.