2017 Western Spring Fling travel blog

Sliding on the snow at Sylvan Pass

1922 turbine removed when the Buffalo Bill Dam power plant was rebuilt

Concrete and wood ball used to block the penstocks while turbines are...

View toward the Buffalo Bill Dam and tunnel through the mountain

Bob's Big Boy in the middle of the pasture in Wapiti Valley

The Smith Mansion

Elk Antlers

Hoodoos on the ridgeline of Wapiti Valley

Lodgepole pine skeletons seen from Lake Butte at sunset

Storm moves through Yellowstone to the south east

Balsamroot blooming on the hillside

More wildflowers blooming on the hillside at Lake Butte


We needed to get to civilization for Sue to pickup some prescriptions. There was a Walmart in Cody, WY so she had the prescriptions transferred there. It was 75 miles one way to Cody from fishing Bridge. We got an early (relatively speaking) start and arrived in Cody just after noon. The prescriptions were not ready so we did a little shopping and went to McDonald's for lunch to use their wifi. Returning to Walmart at about 2:45 we found 3 of the scripts needed to be renewed by Sue's doctor. A call to the doctor's office landed her in voice mail because the office was closed (2hour difference made it 5PM in Delaware). Fortunately she had the doctor's private number and was able to speak with her and renew the three prescriptions. We picked them up and headed back to Yellowstone. No time for sightseeing in Cody because we wanted to get through Sylvan Pass el. 8,530 ft) before dark. When we drove over the pass on the way to Cody, there were several families sliding down some of the remaining snow on the rocks along side of the road. It looked like fun but we decided not to try.

The road from Cody follows the Shoshone River Valley. At the far endow the valley closest to Cody there is a narrow canyon where the Bureau of Reclamation built a dam between 1905 and 1910. The Buffalo Bill Dam is 325 feet high and at the time of its completion it was the tallest dam in the world. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and was named a National Civil Engineering Landmark in 1973. Buffalo Bill Cody founded the town of Cody and owned much of the land now covered by the reservoir. The dam was part of the Shoshone Project that followed several visionary schemes promoted by Cody to irrigate the Bighorn Basin and turn it from a semi-arid sagebrush-covered plain to productive agricultural land. From the looks of the area surrounding the reservoir there not much productive agricultural land. there is some irrigated hay fields but no row crops of any kind were visible. There are a lot of vacation homes, some ranches, and Cody commuter homes in the hills along the reservoir and the headwaters. A power plant was built downstream of the dam in 1922 and then rebuilt in 1991 that provides 3 megawatts of electric power.

We noticed a strange looking "house" up on one of the ridges along the highway through the Wapiti Valley. I googled "strange house in Wyoming" and quite a few hits from the NY Times, Huffingtonpost.com, roadtrippers.com among other web sites came up. One from Atlasobscura.com has an interesting account of Lee Smith, an engineer, who built a small house for his family, but for some reason, OCD?, kept adding to it over the years to the frustration of his wife. She eventually moved to Cody taking their 2 kids with her and filed for divorce. Smith continued to live in the house, making additions continuously, until he fell to his death while working untethered on one of the upper balconies. The house has remained vacant and is slowly falling apart. His daughter is trying to raise money to restore it and make it a museum, but with little success. The other strange sight nearby was the Bob's Big Boy kid statue sitting in the middle of a field. No information on why he there, just that he appeared in 2013.

We arrived back at Fishing Bridge near sunset and I went out to Lake Butte for for some pictures of the sunset.

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