The Buffalo Bill Museum of LeClaire celebrates and depicts the early history of Scott County, Iowa and the City of LeClaire. Our native son, William F. Cody — Buffalo Bill — became the sole suppporter of his family at the age of 11. He went from driving wagons to being an Army Scout to becoming a master showman with his Wild West Show which toured Europe for a decade.
Buffalo Bill is credited with depicting and defining the settlement of America’s West for the rest of the world. He was a man ahead of his time – paying the women, children, and Native-American performers in his company the same money paid to the cowboy performers. During his lifetime, he became the most recognizable person on the planet.
We are also proud to house the last working wooden paddlewheel tugboat on the Mississippi River — the Lone Star. River boat pilots were prominent early citizens who helped to settle LeClaire, Iowa — and our rich river history is featured in our River Pilot’s Annex. Guests are encouraged to board the Lone Star, climb the decks, see where the crew lived and worked.
The Buffalo Bill Museum was established in 1957 by the LeClaire’s Women’s Club, and was originally located in a store front on Cody Road (Hwy. 67) in LeClaire, IA. Its primary exhibits featured local river pilot artifacts, Buffalo Bill memorabilia, local Indian history, and items common to homes in the early 1800’s throughout the region.
In 1971 the first small museum building was constructed on the LeClaire Levee; later, in 2001 a 45 x 45 foot building addition was completed. The River Pilots Annex was completed in 2008 to house the Lone Star Stern Wheeler.
The Lone Star was added to the museum’s collections in 1968, and later designated a “National Historic Landmark” (National Register # 89002461). It is the only surviving wooden-hulled vessel of its particular design.
In 2018, we added an exact replica of a 1900’s one room school house.
Today, the museum welcomes nearly 20,000 visitors a year from all over the United States and at least 20 foreign countries. It operates 7 days a week, primarily through the efforts of volunteers, and has become a popular tourist destination along the I-80 corridor.
199 North Front Street
LeClaire, IA 52753