Near the site of his hunting contest for the right to be nicknamed “Buffalo Bill,” this statue of Cody and an American bison is sixteen feet high and sculpted with 9,000 pounds of bronze.
In the spring of 1868 there were two Williams in the buffalo hunting trade around west Kansas; William Cody, who supplied the Kansas Pacific Railroad workers with buffalo meat, and William Comstock, who fed the soldiers at Fort Wallace with his catch. To settle the dispute that they had on who the rightful owner of the nickname would be, they held a contest to see who could bring back the most buffalo in a day. Cody, with his large-caliber Trapdoor Springfield rifle he named “Lucretia Borgia” and his circling technique that kept his kills in one area instead of scattered, won the contest 69 to 46.
The contest took place 10 miles west of the town of Oakley, and the Buffalo Bill Cultural Center was established there in 1995. A large sculpture was commissioned from Charlie Norton of Leoti, Kansas and dedicated in May of 2004. Placed on a hill just outside of town to keep above the horizon, the statue towers above the plains like the legend of the true Buffalo Bill.
The statue, which was created by contemporary sculptor Charlie Norton, is historically accurate down to Bill’s saddle and the firearms he used. His Springfield rifle “Lucretia” as well as his beloved mustang Brigham were carefully recreated, the artist using a Utah mustang as his model to insure accuracy.