Photos from the Vault

Photo from the Vault: Buffalo Bill in the Suburbs

Buffalo Bill and Frederick Underwood

Famed cowboy and showman William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody swings by Wauwatosa to visit an old friend in today’s photo from the vault.

The “old friend” in the photograph is Frederick D. Underwood, railroad magnate and native to the city of fireflies. Underwood had served as superintendent of construction of the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railway in 1886, before quickly being promoted to general manager. After a brief stint as vice president of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, he was offered the presidency of the Erie Railroad by J. P. Morgan in 1901.

For 25 years, Underwood oversaw his stretch of track and worked tirelessly to rebuild the decaying Erie as a first-class railroad. During this time, he also served as Director of Wells Fargo & Company until it ceased all operations in 1918.

Underwood retired from the Erie Railroad on December 31, 1926 and died on pneumonia in his New York home 15 years later.

Frederick Underwood and Buffalo Bill had been close friends throughout their lives. In the photograph above, the cowboy is giving Underwood a tour of the circus that had made a stop in Underwood’s hometown. This was Cody’s last known appearance in Wisconsin before his death in 1917.

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