Travel Plans: Museums of The West

One of the things I have been doing during this lock-down is planning trips with my family. Western themed museums have always interested me. So I began compiling a list of various places I hope to visit, which I will share with you. One of the draws for me personally to Cowboy Action Shooting is the history of the Old West. Well, that and a healthy dose of lead slinging! Visiting museums of the West is another thing we can do to make our hobby more enjoyable. Below I have listed a few places that have peeked my interest. If you recommend any additional locations, please include them in the comments of this post. But for now, let’s saddle up and hit the trail together!

Boot Hill Museum

Dodge City, KS

Dodge City and the Boot Hill Museum are nationally and internationally recognized as an authentic and historic Western town and museum. The pauper’s cemetery in Dodge City was used in the 1870s for those who could not afford a proper burial. More importantly, for those who died suddenly or “with their boots on.” People called the cemetery “Boot Hill” for that reason. While the museum is probably best known for gunfight demonstrations, there is also the "Guns That Won the West" exhibit and the “People of the Plains” exhibit, which celebrates the culture and history of native people.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Cody, WY

In 1899, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show covered over 11,000 miles in 200 days giving 341 performances in 132 cities and towns across the United States. If you are visiting Yellowstone and interested in more Buffalo Bill lore, this should be added to the trip itinerary. The Buffalo Bill Center of the West actually consists of five large museums:

Buffalo Bill Museum - Discover the story of Buffalo Bill and the American West he loved.

Cody Firearms Museum - Examine an extremely comprehensive collection of firearms.

Draper Natural History Museum - Explore the power and beauty of the Yellowstone region.

Plains Indian Museum - Experience the art, culture, and history of Plains Indian peoples.

Whitney Western Art Museum - Contemplate masterworks from Remington to Russell.

Panhandle–Plains Historical Museum

Canyon, TX

Having been called “the Smithsonian with a Texas accent,” the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum is the largest in the state with more than two million artifacts in its collection. Exhibits largely feature items of the American West, including pieces and historic artifacts of agriculture, geology, decorative arts, firearms, and an extensive collection of Native American art. Permanent exhibits tell the story of early settlement of the Texas Panhandle, as well as the state’s oil boom and life of the American Southwest’s first pioneers.

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

Oklahoma City, OK

You may have heard about this museum after Tim Tiller, a security guard became a viral sensation after taking control of the museum’s social media during this lock-down. This caused the museum’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts to explode. You can follow along with the fun by checking #HashtagTheCowboy every so often. The museum houses a staggering 28,000 Western and American Indian art works and artifacts.

Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer

Grand Island, NE

This museum is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the pioneers who settled the plains of central Nebraska in the late 19th century. It features a living history village called Railroad Town, designed to emulate a 1890s prairie village made from many original period structures moved to the museum. Other attractions include a 1880s threshing machine, Pawnee earth lodge and a log cabin.

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