Hello all! My name is Ryan Hodges and this is my first official blog post as the new Cody Firearms Museum intern for this summer. I am thrilled to be in Cody, as well as having the opportunity to be an intern in the CFM here at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. To begin the blog series, in which I will be posting once a week, I wanted to provide some info about myself, as well as what I will be doing this summer as the Cody Firearms Museum intern.
I am from the small town of Boones Mill in Franklin County, Virginia, located just outside of Roanoke. Surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, and right by the Appalachian Trail, the Roanoke Valley is a gorgeous place to call home. After graduating in a class of 41 from North Cross School, I attended Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia. This past May I graduated from Roanoke with a BA in history, and concentrated in public history. While I enjoyed growing up in the East, my passion in history, and in life, was the West.
My yearning for the frontier grew over the years as I would constantly watch westerns with my father. Whether they were classics like The Rifleman or Gunsmoke, or memorably my first western movie I saw, Hang ’em High starring Clint Eastwood, I was always fascinated with the colorful characters, and the vibrant setting that was the American West. I was hooked. As time went on, I began to fill my movie collection with westerns, and my library with texts about the West. Throughout college, little was offered on American Western studies, but I knew it was what I wanted to learn about, as well as where I needed to be.
That is how I arrived in Cody, Wyoming! What better place to share my passion with others, as well as continue to study and learn about the American West, than the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. William F. Cody had always been a hero of mine, as he pioneered the way to sharing the myth and romance of the frontier to the public right as the Wild West was coming to a close. As I heard about the Center of the West, my heart filled with joy when I read that their mission is to “inspire, educate, and engage global audiences through an authentic experience with the American West.” (I highly recommend reading their Mission, Vision, and Credo page.) I was inspired to make my own westward venture to Wyoming.
I always found firearms to be a particularly captivating part of the story of the West, as their influence and history carried over into every facet of the frontier. They shaped the histories of individuals, groups of people, and the nation. They can be beautiful pieces of art. They had a devastating impact on the natural world, particularly the American Bison, but they are also incredibly important to our natural world today. They made many men and women legendary, as well as infamous. They are forever a staple of the West. In my time here at the Center, I will be posting blogs and Facebook posts on firearms and related topics, learning how to appropriately curate and interpret their histories, and doing some educational programs about guns and gun safety.
I have much to learn, but I am eager and excited to be at the Center of the West for the summer of a lifetime!