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Law escorts engraved .36-caliber to Medora

MEDORA -- Wild West showman William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody has been called one of the most colorful figures of the American Old West. Now residents can view a one-of-a-kind weapon with his name etched on it at the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Cody was born in Iowa, became a soldier, bison hunter and later in his life, a showman, putting on cowboy-themed shows featuring names such as Annie Oakley and Sitting Bull.

Gun manufacturer Samuel Colt gave Buffalo Bill the piece in the 1800s, and Thursday the museum got it from the National Firearms Museum in Virginia.

The 1851 .36-caliber revolver is engraved with Cody's name and it's unclear if it's been shot, though the wear on the weapon indicates it was used.

The gun arrived in Bismarck by plane Thursday, said Darrel Dorgan, executive director of the Hall of Fame. The gun was then escorted by sheriff's departments in the four counties it took to get back to Medora because of security.

Dorgan could not disclose how the gun was encased when it arrived, but said all precautions are being taken for safety and preservation.

"We had to pass the National Archives check which assures them that we can handle all kinds of items," Dorgan said. "The National Firearms did check with us, too."

At any given time, the hall must remain between 68 and 72 degrees and must range between 45-and 55-percent humidity so that items are preserved, Dorgan said.

Dorgan doesn't know the last time the gun was fired or how many, but the wear on the handle shows that it was more than likely holstered and used.

"I hope it will be a big draw to the Hall," Dorgan said. "Everybody's heard of Buffalo Bill Cody. He was the showman of his time."

The gun will join other pieces on loan to the hall through the National Firearms Museum.

"I appreciate the history behind these pieces," Mayor Doug Ellison said. "I think it's good that they keep bringing in new things so that people can see something new when they come in."

The revolver joins other displays, including information on Dusty Hausauer and Shaun Stroh, two Dickinson residents who placed in the National Finals Rodeo earlier this year.

The museum opens today at the start of its season and is open daily May through October, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

For more information on the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, visit