The Historic Cody Trail: A Recreational Tour

Cover of the cody trail brochure.

During the 1996 celebration of Iowa's Sesquicentennial, each county was asked to develop a legacy project to enhance the historic and educational aspects of Iowa's first 150 years. The Scott County Sesquicentennial Committee selected a Trails & Markers Project to leave a permanent record of the county's role in the state's growth.

Explore rural Scott County, Iowa and savor the fresh air as you travel through some of the richest farmland in the nation. Visit historic sites and learn about the abundant heritage of the area.

The 25-1/2 mile Cody Trail is named after Buffalo Bill Cody, an Indian Scout, buffalo hunter, and Wild West showman. Cody was born in the Mississippi River town of LeClaire, Iowa, and later moved into rural Scott County.

  1. The trail begins north of Davenport in the community of Eldridge, which was founded in 1871. The designated route begins at the corner of LeClaire Road and 1st Street. Situated on the northwest corner of the intersection in the Eldridge Turner Hall, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is a reminder of early day German immigrants who settled the area. The German Turner Societies promoted physical fitness and health through gymnastics.
  2. The trail then travels north along 162nd Avenue (County Road Y64) to Long Grove, which was founded in 1838. In its early days, Long Grove was on a stage route from Davenport to Dubuque. The name Long Grove was given to the village because it was "pleasantly located near a large grove of fine timber.
    Several points of interest are located in the community. On the northeast corner of 1st Street and Cadda Road is the Long Grove Church and Cemetery. An Iowa Sesquicentennial Marker is located a the grave site of Samuel Cody, the eldest son of Isaac Cody. Samuel was a brother of "Buffalo Bill." The boy died at age 12 from injuries incurred when thrown from a horse near Long Grove in September 1853.
  3. On the north edge of Long Grove, at 206 Pine Street, visit the Alexander Brownlie House, also on the National Registry of Historic Places. It may be the only two-story sod structure in the United States and was built in 1838. It is believed the sod was covered with conventional siding soon after construction. Portions of the original building are exposed and protected inside the house. There is also a barn on the site that dates to the same time period as the sod home. The site is identified with and Iowa Sesquicentennial Marker.
  4. Departing Long Grove, the Cody Trail travels east on E. Grove Road (County Road F41) to the residential area of Park View. Skirting the edge of Park View the trail connects with Scott Park Road. Turn left (north) on Scott Park Road to St. Ann's Road. You are now seeing some of the richest farmland in Scott County.
  5. Turn right (east) on St. Ann's Road (290th Street/County Road F33). Within a short distance on the right lies the Dan Nagle Walnut Grove Pioneer Village. The site is identified with two Sesquicentennial Markers, one for the village itself and the other located on Old St. Ann's Church. The village also contains structures from Scott County's history as well as replica buildings eliciting the flavor of bygone days.
  6. Continue east on St. Ann's Road (280th St.) to Utica Ridge Road (210th Avenue/County Road Z16). Turn left (north) on Utica Ridge Road to 300th Street (County Road F33). Turn right (east) on 300th Street.
  7. Approximately 1-1/2 miles south on 240th Avenue at the southwest intersection with Bluff Road travelers will find signs leading to the Buffalo Bill Cody Homestead. In 1847, Isaac Cody built the original stone portion of the structure. The elder Cody managed the 7,000 acre Brekenridge family farm. Between the birth of the popular figure and the family's move west in 1853, the Cody's lived in several locations. The Homestead is the only Cody home remaining on its original site.
  8. This route passes by the site of Lost Grove Lake to Territorial Road (County Road F51), where the rail turns east into historic LeClaire. As the trail passes the intersection of 270th Avenue, an Iowa Sesquicentennial Marker on the northwest corner of the intersection identifies the actual site of the birthplace of William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody. He was born in LeClaire, Iowa in 1846.
  9. Continue traveling east to the end of Territorial Road (1.5 miles to the Great River Road where the trail itself ends).Then turn right and travel south for 3/10ths of a mile on Great River Road (U.S. Hwy 67). On the right side of the road is another Iowa Sesquicentennial Marker. It identifies the site of "Buffalo Bill's" boyhood home from 1847 to 1853.
  10. Continue traveling south 7/10ths mile and turn left on Jones Street to the Buffalo Bill Museum in LeClaire, Iowa. The Museum has a wealth of information about the early days of LeClaire. Inventor James J. Ryan, a LeClaire native, invented the (black box) flight recorder, seat-belt retractors, and many other great inventions. The Museum also offers a tour of the Lone Star Riverboat, built in 1869. It is the last and oldest surviving example of the wooden bulled work boats.
  11. The City of LeClaire is rich in history with its ties to Buffalo Bill and the Mississippi River. Fourteen homes in LeClaire are listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. Riverboat pilots built these homes in the 1800's. Pick up a "Where the River Pilots Lives" brochure while you are in LeClaire; it provides information about each home.
    The river boat pilots guided steamboats and rafts through a troublesome stretch of river know as the "Upper Rapids". Sesquicentennial plaques mark the pilots' homes as well as other historic buildings that are important to the heritage of LeClaire. The Cody Trail ends in LeClaire.

The Cody Trail is mapped and described in a fold-out brochure. For a copy, call Bi-State Regional Commission at 309-793-6300.