Old West Lifestyle & Stories

Dodge City

  Dodge City 2 As the railroad headed west, towns grew up along side it. One of the more famous Western towns was named Buffalo City. However, that wasn’t the name under which it became famous.

   It was the middle of July 1872 when the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad reached a peddler’s camp by the name of Buffalo City, Kansas, located about five miles from the military reservation of Fort Dodge. Almost overnight tent saloons and gambling dens sprang up. Within a matter of weeks it was a town of false-fronted buildings. And shortly afterward the Buffalo City town signs were taken down and replaced with signs reading, Dodge City, after the name of one of the town fathers, Colonel Richard I. Dodge.

   Because it was against the law to sell liquor in unorganized regions of Kansas, the Dodge City residents petitioned to organize the county of Ford. Interestingly, the petition contained the names of as many transients and railroad people as residents. Even though it was challenged, the state legislature, out of expediency, approved Ford County

   Dodge City started out as a hangout for buffalo hunters. Then when the cattle drives and cowboys started coming north, with twenty saloons, numerous dance halls and houses of ill repute, Dodge City became known as the “Queen of the Cow Towns.”

   Over the next few years the likes of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson and Belle Starr took residence there. But, they only stayed there temporarily, because fame had other places to go and other events in which to participate.

    Dodge City only had about 3,000 residents at the height of the population. By 1885, a little over 15 years after it became a town, the railhead had moved on to other towns. The Chisholm Trail was being plowed under by wheat farmers, and the law was maintaining order, so Dodge City settled down and became civilized.

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