MIDDLETOWN — Look out, partner. The “Wild West Express” is headed to Middletown.
At 5 p.m. Tuesday at the train tracks on First Street, the town will hold a free western-themed event honoring the 105th anniversary of Buffalo Bill’s trains rolling through Middletown.
William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody — an American soldier and showman — rolled into Winchester on a train on Oct. 4, 1916, and thrilled townspeople with two shows. It was one of his last shows, as he died in January 1917.
“Buffalo Bill brought his traveling Wild West show everywhere,” said Middletown Mayor Charles Harbaugh IV. “It was like the Super Bowl of its day when it went to these towns.”
Tuesday’s show will feature a reenactment of a Wild West shootout, with participants such as Harbaugh and Frederick County Sheriff Lenny Millholland. There also will be a dedication of a new Middletown railroad sign and an unveiling of historical pictures of the Middletown train station from the 1940s and ‘50s. Door prizes will be given out at the event. And local researcher John Flood will give a presentation on Buffalo Bill.
Harbaugh said Buffalo Bill rode through Middletown on his way to Staunton.
According to Flood, Buffalo Bill’s shows took place in a portable U-shaped arena.
“They would have lots of [American] Indians on horseback, lots of cowboys on horseback,” Flood said. “They would have buffalo and pretend to shoot the buffalo with blanks. They had a stagecoach pulled around the arena at breakneck speed and pretended to be attacked, and then Buffalo Bill would save the stagecoach.”
The town will host a free fireworks show at 7 p.m. Saturday in the town park commemorating Middletown’s 225th anniversary and the 40th anniversary of Blue Ridge Hospice.
“This is going to be a big one, probably better than our July 4th one because you’ve got two organizations coming together to work on it,” Harbaugh said about the fireworks display. “It’s also going to be played to music, so it’s going to be really special.”