Located in southwest Kansas, legendary Dodge City sits on the banks of the Arkansas River and atop the world's largest underground water table, the Ogallala Aquifer. The surrounding Red Hills are a source of bountiful wildlife and hunting is popular both with locals and Dodge City visitors.
Fort Dodge was built in 1865 to protect the wagon trains and U.S. mail and supply troops for the Indian Wars. The 'Wickedest Little City in the West' was officially born in 1872, growing up around the sod home of a local cattle rancher.
Dodge City was a major stop along the historic Santa Fe Trail, the great wagon train and trade route between Franklin, Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico used until 1880. This prairie town was also the buffalo capital of the U.S. for three years until massive slaughters wiped out the herds.
For a decade ending in the mid-1880's the town was a major destination of cattle drives. With so many drifters, buffalo hunters, ex-soldiers and gunslingers converging on the town, Dodge City became legendary for its lawlessness. With a population of only 1,200 in 1876, Dodge boasted 19 liquor serving establishments!
Famous Kansas peacekeepers did make it into town eventually, including Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp, bringing the long arm of the law and plenty of fodder for old western stories of glory.
Today Dodge City thrives with a tourism based on the mystique of the cowboy and the legends of the Old West. For anyone intrigued by the life of the gunslinger, this is a must stop on your Kansas vacation.
- Dodge City is the windiest city in the United States with an average daily wind speed of over 22 mph.
- It is illegal to spit on the sidewalk in Dodge City, Kansas.
- It's still on the law books that all businesses must provide a horse watering trough in this town.
- During the three years of 1872-1874, an estimated 850,000 Buffalo hides were shipped from Dodge City.
This Kansas city is rich with attractions, including the 38 foot Coronado Cross which marks the spot where this famous Spanish explorer crossed the Arkansas River in 1541 in search of his 'Cities of Gold.'
Check out the Dodge City attractions map for these other great things to do on a Kansas vacation:
- Dodge City Raceway Park
The Dodge City Raceway Park is an exciting location for avid racing fans. The 3/8 mile dirt track attracts thousands of viewers each summer. It is a host to the National Sprint Car Tour. The Raceway hosts Hornet class, Stock, Modified, Sport Modified and NAPA Thunder Car events.
Every year the Dodge City Raceway hosts a Rock and Race Fest, combining hard-driving musical entertainment with the noise and excitement of stock car racing. The Raceway hosts special giveaways and themes including a Harley Davidson night.
- Gunfighter's Wax Museum
This unique Kansas attraction features life-size wax figures of Wild West heroes. Meet Sitting Bull, Buffalo Bill, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and Davey Crockett. An exhibit of members from the "Gunsmoke" television series, as well as other fictional western characters, is also featured.
The Gunfighter's Wax Museum is located above the Kansas Teacher's Hall of Fame, the first of its kind in the United States and another great stop on your Dodge City vacation. Open seven days a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
- Boot Hill Museum
Gunfight reenactments, saloon shows and chuck wagon dinners are part of the appeal at the Boot Hill Museum. This attraction incorporates historic Front Street and the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame.
The museum recreates 'The Wickedest Little City in the West' in the late 1800's. Front Street is lined with the Long Branch Saloon, the Boot Hill Cemetery (where many Kansas natives, heroes and outlaws now rest), the Bank, the Undertaker and many more Dodge City establishments.
Excellent exhibits and films are dedicated to the Native American people of the plains, the saga of the American Buffalo, the Santa Fe Trail and the history of the railroads in Kansas. The Boot Hill Museum depicts the brutal reality of lawlessness that was Dodge City before the turn of the city.
Longhorn Statue on Front Street, Dodge City, Kansas
by Simon Montgomery
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