A Public Land Transfer Gone Wrong: A Wyoming Historian Tells A Cautionary Tale

Dec 2, 2016

Col. William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody, center, and others at the entrance to the cave at the newly designated Shoshone Cavern National Monument west of Cody, Wyo., 1909.
Credit Wyoming State Archives

In recent years, more and more bills have been introduced in Wyoming’s legislature that would transfer the management of federal public lands into the state control. In fact, legislators will discuss a constitutional amendment to allow state management of public lands in Cheyenne on December 14.

It’s not the first time the idea has been attempted though. Back in the 1950s, a national monument was handed over to the city of Cody. Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards chatted with Buffalo Bill Museum curator Jeremy Johnston about why the Shoshone Caverns monument ultimately ended up back in federal hands.

Johnston starts the story with how the caves were first discovered.