Think of the Old West and the first city that comes to mind is Dodge City, Kansas, the town infamous for gunfights, saloon girls, outlaws, and as the end of the trail. Buffalo hunters hunted the massive prairie creatures almost into extinction near Dodge City, the U.S. Army maintained a semblance of order from Fort Dodge, and many a young cowboy found perdition on the streets of Dodge.
Today, Dodge City, Kansas ranks high as one of the top family friendly tourist destinations in the country. Everyone from Grandpa down to the baby will enjoy the flavor of the Wild West with a visit to Dodge City where the past seems somehow near.
The Boot Hill Museum and Front Street on the edge of town offer a recreated look at yesteryear. Recreated with authenticity, Front Street appears much as it did in the 19th century. Several historical collections are on site along with the refurbished buildings that include two saloons (one the famous Long Branch), schoolhouse, family home, jail, a bank, and several business. Twice daily recreated gunfights play on the dusty street and a variety show is held each evening in the Long Branch Saloon. On the site of the original, the Boot Hill Cemetery -so named because men died with their boots on – offers a look at Dodge’s violent past.
The Mueller-Schmidt House at A and Vine Streets reminds visitors that life in Dodge City was not all cowboys and outlaws. Built in 1881 by the city’s first bootmaker, John Mueller, the house is the oldest in town at its’ original location. Bought in 1890 by Adam Schmidt, a local blacksmith, the home remained in the same family until 1960 and was bought by Ford County in 1965. Rooms are furnished in period style and memoribilia for other noted Dodge City residents are included.
Just east of town on US 400, Fort Dodge stands tall on the flat prairies. Established in 1865 as an Army post to protect the Santa Fe Trail, Fort Dodge was built from sod and adobe. Some 1867 buildings constructed of Kansas sandstone are still in use. The Museum and library are open to the public free of charge.
Near Fort Dodge a large cross rises high into the sky at the Coronado Cross Park. Erected in 1975, the Coronado Cross memorializes Francisco Coranado, the Spanish Explorer who first cross these plains centuries ago. The cross is near the site at which Cornado asked his priest to say a Mass of thanksgiving that they had traveled thus far.
West on US Highway 50 some of the wagon ruts worn deep into the soil on the Santa Fe Trail remain visible.
Visitors can hop the Dodge City Trolley for a guided tour of the town. Points of interest include the original locations of the Long Branch Saloon, Front Street, and Fort Dodge.
Find the flavor of the past without the danger and violence in a look back at old Dodge City, Kansas.
Further information and details are available from the Dodge City Convention and Visitors Bureau at 1-800-653-9378.