Northwest College

Big Horn Basin Map

Buffalo Bill Reservoir

Quick Facts
  • William Cody had tried to finance privately a dam on the Shoshone river, but he failed. His efforts were crucial in convincing the federal government to take on the project, however.
  • Construction began on the Shoshone Dam in 1905 and was completed in 1910. The name was changed in 1946 to the Buffalo Bill Dam as a tribute to Cody's efforts to use Shoshone River water for irrigation.
  • The dam was constructed at a narrow 70 foot wide section of the canyon. The hard granite on both sides made it an ideal spot for the dam.
  • Tunnels had to be cut through the rock in the canyon in order to reach the dam site. The tunnels were cut by men working with pick axes and shovels.
  • Seven men died and three companies went broke during the initial construction.
  • The dam was initially 300 feet high. In 1990 the dam was raised by 25 feet.
  • Water from the Buffalo Bill Reservoir provides irrigation for the Powell valley.
Buffalo Bill Reservoir photo
Buffalo Bill Reservoir photo