Originally featured in Points West magazine in Spring 2011
Cowgirls from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West on a Stagecoach
Five cowgirls from the cast of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West dress the part, hats and all, and perch atop a stagecoach on the show’s backlot—with a sixth taking aim with a pistol from inside the coach.
Never great in number in the exhibitions of the wild west show era (roughly 10 percent of any given cast), women nevertheless performed in diverse roles through the years. They represented traditional domestic women in dramatic frontier scenarios—including Indian attacks on settlers’ cabins or bandit raids on trains but also performed as sharpshooters (think Annie Oakley), trick riders, and participants in races and relays.
These six likely posed sometime between 1908 and 1916, as the earlier years of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West generally had fewer women in the cast.
Cowgirls with stagecoach on backlot of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, c. 1908 – 1916. William F. Cody Collection. P.69.903