Buffalo Bill Museum
Established in 1957 in the historic Mississippi River town of LeClair, this local history museum offers a variety of exhibits that interpret the history of the region. The museum was created through the efforts of the LeClair Women’s Club and started in a small storefront. The museum grew slowly over time even as the population of the community peaked, and today occupies its own building. The museum showcases history regarding the local area with highlights including items that preserve and share the history of local Indian tribes and a collection of items related to the life of Buffalo Bill.
Backstory and Context
Located on the Mississippi River in the city of LeClair, the Buffalo Bill Museum works to preserve and share both the local history of the community and also share the interesting life of the performer known as Buffalo Bill. The Le Clair Women’s Club established the museum in 1957 within a small downtown storefront. The museum is now located next to the river and relies heavily on local supporters and volunteers.
One of the notable exhibits on display in the museum is the Lone Star. Built in 1868 by Sam Mitchell, the vessel started out as a packet boat and was remodeled into a towboat after Mitchell sold the craft. It is one of the last wooden-hull built boats with the western river style, which certified it on the National Register of Historic Places. The Lone Star went through various revisions to keep the craft within standard conditions, eventually retiring in 1968. It was then sold to the LeClair Businessmen’s Association where it was docked on the Mississippi River and showcased at the Buffalo Bill Museum today in an enclosure titled “The River Pilot’s Pier.” Visitors of the museum may view the vessel and explore its interior.
The museum’s dedication to Buffalo Bill comes from the figure being born in the town of LeClair, taking pride in its relation. The museum also strives to educate about Buffalo Bill, the man behind the persona, and relations to the time in which he lived. The museum displays items from the local tribes, clothing of the era, and documents on the area’s history. One of the recent editions to the museum is The Robert Schiffke 1920’s Era One Room School House Exhibit. This exhibit, dedicated to the museum’s director, showcases what a one-room school would have looked like, specifically in the early 20th century.
2. Lone Star Registration Form. National Park Service. Accessed March 24, 2019. https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/GetAsset/NHLS/89002461_text.
3. Photo of Buffalo Bill Media. Buffalo Bill Museum. Accessed March 24, 2019. http://buffalobillmuseumleclaire.com/photo-gallery/.
4. Photo of Buffalo Bill Museum. Buffalo Bill Museum. Accessed March 24, 2019. http://buffalobillmuseumleclaire.com/directions/.
5. Photo of Lone Star. Buffalo Bill Museum. Accessed March 24, 2019. http://buffalobillmuseumleclaire.com/photo-gallery/.
6. William F. Cody. Public Broadcasting Service. . Accessed March 24, 2019. https://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/people/a_c/buffalobill.htm.