Our History


Buffalo Bill’s Grave

William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody died in 1917 and was buried in Lookout Mountain Park, part of the Denver Mountain Parks system. According to his widow Louisa Cody and close friends, Cody asked to be buried on the mountain overlooking the Great Plains where he had spent much of his life.

Buffalo Bill's grave.
Johnny and Olive Baker.

The Museum Opens

Johnny Baker, Buffalo Bill’s foster son, in partnership with the City and County of Denver opened the museum in the spring of 1921. Denver owned the property, but Johnny and his wife Olive owned the artifacts and ran the museum along with a café and shop. The Bakers called the building “Pahaska Tepee” after Cody’s hunting lodge outside of Yellowstone Park.

The COllection

The foundation of the museum’s collection was assembled by Johnny Baker, foster son of Cody. The original collection is made up of items donated by Cody’s friends and family members, as well as native performers and others associated with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. Buffalo Bill’s wife, Louisa Cody, also contributed items from the couple’s personal collection. The extensive collection continues to grow even today as the museum identifies items that help to tell a more complete story of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and his burial at Lookout Mountain.

Beaded moccasins.

The Museum Expands

After Johnny Baker’s death in 1931, his wife Olive continued to operate Pahaska Tepee until her own death in 1956. At that point, under an earlier agreement, the collection became the property of the City and County of Denver. In 1977, the museum expanded into its current building and the café and shop stayed in the historic wood building. The museum and Lookout Mountain Park remain part of the Denver Mountain Parks system under the City and County of Denver’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

Pahaska Tepee.