Bill Cody. (Cody museum photo)

A large piece of rock known as the Cody Stone will be unveiled this weekend at the Buffalo Bill Museum in the eastern Iowa town of LeClaire, where the famed Wild West showman was born as William Cody in 1846.

The stone is milky quartz ore that contains gold, silver, copper and tungsten and it’s from the Arizona gold mine Buffalo Bill owned later in his life. The museum’s Debra Lewis says the stone has historical significance and they’re glad to get it, a gift from private donors.

“This is our first exhibit at the Buffalo Bill Museum that deals with his mining,” Lewis says. “They’re donating all the pictures and the plaque and the rock from his mine. They thought maybe a bigger rock would look better. It’s going to be the size of a softball but you can see the gold and silver.”

Lewis says the donation is part of a new exhibit at the museum that will focus on this lesser-known time in his life, when mining became a passion. “There’s just some wonderful pictures of him down in the mine, playing Santa Claus to all the miners’ kids,” Lewis says, laughing, “I mean, we love Buffalo Bill!” Cody became a Pony Express rider at age 15, he hunted bison, he served as a Union soldier during the Civil War and as a civilian scout for the U.S. Army during the Indian Wars, receiving the Medal of Honor in 1872.

Buffalo Bill Museum in LeClaire.

Taking the name Buffalo Bill, he became one of the era’s most famous figures, as he founded Buffalo Bill’s Wild West in 1883, taking his cowboy-themed rodeo show all over the globe. “He was our first rock star,” she says. “I mean, he actually put his whole thing, camels, horses, buffalo, on a boat and took it over to Europe. Kings and queens, can you imagine taking all the animals across the ocean and getting seasick?”

Lewis says the museum, which she calls “The Biggest Little Museum in the Midwest,” will host a ceremony at 1 p.m on Saturday to unveil the new exhibit.