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Road Trippin' LeClaire's Buffalo Bill Museum

A sculpture of Buffalo Bill Cody sits in LeClaire's Buffalo Bill Museum. Photo: Joe Huisinga CBS2/FOX28.

Buffalo Bill Cody is an icon of the American west but he was born just barley west of the Mississippi in LeClaire.

He built his fame on hunting buffalo for the growing railroads, his travels as a scout for the Union Army, and a wild west show that traveled the world.

"He is what I would call the world's first superstar," says Bob Schiffke, Executive Director of the Buffalo Bill Museum in LeClaire.

The displays draw a fascinating picture of the old west legend and his Iowa beginnings, but this regional history museum celebrates everything from the areas first inhabitants, to the river economy that built it up.

The centerpiece of their river exhibit is the Lone Star Steamer.

“It's like going back in a time machine because it was never modernized never had a radar or radio or anything like that," says Schiffke.

This wooden hulled steam boat operated on the Mississippi near LeClaire from 1890 to 1967 dredging sand for use in construction.

According to Schiffke the Lone Star is one of the last wooden hulled steam ships in the United States.

"It was a relic when it was running in those years, there was nothing else like it on the river," says Schiffke.

Visitors can get an inside look at this relic and the boat still has a lot of the machinery and equipment used in its operation.

"You can go through the whole boat and touch anything you want to practically,” Schiffke says.

If you head up to the top deck stop in the pilothouse where the view of the river almost gives you the feeling of being on the water.

It is a popular draw for tourists and travelers that offers up more than expected.

“I thought we'd probably be here for 10-15 minutes and we've been here for maybe an hour and a half, two hours so lots of things to see,” says Caroline Jaennette, who was traveling to North Carolina with her grandson.

Both agree the Lone Star was their favorite attraction.

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