Monday, May 7, 2012

Dodge City & the Wild West

Because of the issues we were having with the RV, we spent four days in Dodge City, an interesting little place that celebrates both its historical and fictional past.  Dodge is located on the 100th meridian which is considered the line marking the beginning of the arid high plains.  It was where the large southern buffalo herds roamed which attracted the plains Indians and it was where Coronado crossed the Arkansas River in his search for the city of gold.  Later, the Santa Fe trail passed through Dodge.  After the railroad came through, it became the destination for the cattle drives from Texas which brought rowdy cowboys and the famous lawmen who controlled the town. Later it became the big agricultural center that it is today.  The whole story is told at the Boot Hill Museum, a recreation of the old town.
Some of the Indian Artifacts that tell the importance of the buffalo to their culture.
     The buffalo where here first which attracted the Indians.  The cross marks the spot where Coronado crossed the Arkansas River.  The arrival of the railroad brought the cattle and the cowboys and that lead to the town hiring famous lawman, Wyatt Earp.     

There are plaques on the sidewalks throughout Dodge honoring both real and fictional citizens. 
In the top row are real people.  Starting on the left is Big Nose Kate Elder, a love interest of Doc Holliday; center is Wyatt Earp, who was a Deputy Sheriff under Bat Masterson; right is Doc Holliday, a dentist, gambler and gunfighter.
In the bottom row are some of the fictional characters from movies and TV shows about Dodge.
Left is Milburn Stone, who played Doc Adams on Gunsmoke; center is James Arness, Marshal Matt Dillon on the show and Gene Barry, who played Bat Masterson.
There are many more plaques including the entire cast of Gunsmoke.

I found this display of original signatures of some of Dodge City's most famous citizens very interesting.  It is a direct link to past characters, many of whom I grew up with as the were portrayed in the movies and TV shows of my youth.
Nanc is checking out the pictures of some of the famous people who have visited the Boot Hill Museum.  They included politicians like John F. Kennedy and Gerald Ford, who where both here before they became president and many famous entertainment personalities.

The recreated Front Street of Dodge City.  All of the businesses where actually in the city during the frontier period.

Here is the inside of the bank, mortuary, newspaper and blacksmith shop. 
The Long Branch was not just the fictional saloon in Gunsmoke, but one of 19 bars during the cowboy days that lead to the city's reputation as the "Wickedest Little City in America". 
You can have a beer or a sarsaparilla while listening to the piano player at the Long Branch.  In the summer they have can can dancers in the bar and old time Western shoot outs on Front Street.

This is where the name Boot Hill comes from. This was really just the cemetery for the down and out who could not afford to be buried at nearby Fort Dodge.  All of the bodies were relocated years ago as the city grew and took over Boot Hill.
A stop in Dodge City sure does bring back a lot of memories from the old Western movies we watched as kids.

1 comment:

Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Good post, I was curious as to what you two would think of Dodge City.