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Buffalo Bill Cody
Buffalo Bill Cody

Fort Collins in 1886

by Dick Baker

Triangle Review ,  1974

Editor's Note: This article is part of a series of 15 articles which will trace the development of Fort Collins and Loveland through "the elegant '80s." The research was compiled by historian Dick Baker, a retired city official whose grandfather was mayor of Fort Collins.

Evidently Frank Stover's old phone which he originally installed in 1880 had become obsolete, for in January of 1886 we find him buying a phone of the Zthedinah-Reddy patent. This phone was in his laboratory at the rear of his pharmacy and was connected with his residence. The first month of 1886 also saw revenue officers of the Internal Revenue Service visiting Fort Collins to look over the new distillery plant at Bellvue. Mr. S. B. Brown, owner of the distillery, had been obliged to wait the arrival of the inspector to look over the works and assess the tax the government would demand. The tax was levied according to the capacity of the works. Brown planned to manufacture corn, wheat and rye whiskey. This distillery was the third one in Colorado at the time. Before operations were to get underway, a government guager had to be appointed by the government. The amount of whiskey the distillery had produced was questionable. In June, the distillery burned with all its contents. Carry Nation (who used violence rather than persuasion) must have been on the warpath, because the fire was thought to have been of incendiary nature.

Buffalo Bill Cody was in town in April where he was entertained by his boyhood friend, A. H. Patterson, Fort Collins pioneer implement dealer. Buffalo Bill and Patterson had come west together. Buffalo Bill was enroute to Boulder to Cheyenne. He had made quite a deal of money in these years by his novel show "The Wild West". In the winter, he played in a show known as the "Prairie Waif." As one person remarked, "Buffalo Bill is thriving and need not long for the good old days." Buffalo Bill at this time ordered a special buggy which was made in Fort Collins by E. C. Roth. Roth supplied the buggy with a patented Roth Spring and shipped it to Cody's Nebraska ranch (Scouts Rest). Millions of words and probably as much nonsense has been penned about Bill Cody. Probably the world's worst businessman, he was on the other hand generous to a fault, an excellent showman, handsome(with legions of feminine admirers), a good rifle shot and better than average rider. The attractive house at 121 N Grant where Patterson entertained Buffalo Bill is now owned by the owners and publishers of this paper. I have one of the rifles Buffalo Bill used when he performed for the Queen of England. My father was a friend of Patterson's son. The son inherited the rifle upon his father's early death. He sold it to my father so he could continue his studies of law at the University of Wyoming. George W. Patterson became a well-known California attorney and died there a years later.

One of the last of the West's old fur trappers died in Fort Collins in '86. He was Philip Covington who died at the age of 82. He had come west in 1827 with a party of youths in the employ of the American Fur Co. This party (under the leadership of the famous Captain Sublette) eventually went as far west as Yellowstone Park. Covington also participated in the California gold rush of '49 and came back to settle in the Fort Collins district in the '70s. Tennis first came to Fort Collins in this year when courts were constructed on the courthouse square. Two dozen gay blades paid dues to the tune of $ 2 per person for this recreation. Stout was busily engaged in supplying Cheyenne with stone for their new passenger depot. Laborers at the quarry at this time received $ 2.25 per day.
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