National Register of Historic Places

Buffalo Bill Dam

West of Cody

Date Added to Register

Thursday, August 12, 1971

Smithsonian Number


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Construction of the Buffalo Bill Dam was completed in 1910. The Dam is a concrete arch placed near the head of the Shoshone River Canyon. The Dam stands 325 feet high, measured from bedrock. Its hydraulic height is 233 feet; its width at base in 108 feet and at top is 10 feet. The length at the crest is 200 feet and the elevation there is 5,370 feet above sea level. A measured 82,900 cubic yards of concrete were poured during the dam's construction. The reservoir standing behind the dam is also named Buffalo Bill. It has a capacity of 439,800 acre feet of water with a shoreline of about 20 miles.

The Buffalo Bill Dam is one of the earliest achievements of the Bureau of Reclamation and was built in the ''Arch and Crown-Cantilever Method.'' The original name was Shoshone Dam. The entire project, including irrigation canals extending into Montana 70 or more miles from the dam site, watered lands, powerplants, spillways, and diversion tunnels, is named the Shoshone Project. Almost three decades after its construction the title of dam and reservoir was changed by Act of Congress to Buffalo Bill. This was done in order to honor the memory of Col. William Frederick Cody better known as Buffalo Bill. The building of Buffalo Bill Dam cost $1,000,000. Its value and significance to the local area and the State of Wyoming includes the value of annual crops raised on almost 100,000 acres of rich agricultural lands, the wealth resulting from industrial and municipal waters made available, and the further wealth resulting from electric energy furnished to individuals, communities, and industries.

Department of State Parks & Cultural Resources