Heading West from Wichita we checked into Dodge City at the Gunsmoke RV Park.
We met Charlie Mead, Deputy U.S. Marshall for Dodge City. He told us about Dodge City and those thrilling days of yesteryear.
Fort Dodge was established in 1865 to protect wagon trains on the Santa Fe Trail. Six years later in 1871, five miles west of the Fort, a pioneer by the name of Henry L. Sitler constructed a three-room sod house. Built to oversee his cattle ranch, Sitler’s home became a frequent stopping place for buffalo hunters and traders. Dodge City was founded the next year, on August 15, 1872, at the edge of the military reservation, with the Sitler’s home as the first building. It quickly became a trade center for travelers and buffalo hunters. Dodge City was named after Fort Dodge and Col. Richard I. Dodge (commander of Ft. Dodge).
Like Wichita, urban renewal removed all the remnants of the original Dodge City, so, a re-creation was made.
During those early years, Dodge City also acquired an infamous stamp of lawlessness and gun-slinging. There was no local law enforcement and the military had no jurisdiction over the town. Charlie reminded us that in 1872 it was said there was no law west of Chicago, and no God west of Dodge City.
Doc Holiday thinks I cheated him, and is drawing his gun.
Buffalo hunters, railroad workers, drifters and soldiers scrapped and fought, leading to the shootings where men died with their boots on. This created a hasty need for a local burial place – Boot Hill Cemetery. Before Boot Hill, Dodge City had no official cemetery. Persons dying who had friends, enough money or sufficient standing in the community, were buried in the post cemetery at Fort Dodge. Others, penniless or unknown, were buried where it was convenient to dig a hole. The cemetery was used until 1878.
Traveling around the Country has left me penniless, so I am eligible to be buried at Boot Hill, with my boots on.
The cattle yard, just outside of Dodge, contained over 10,000 head of cattle, heading for your table.
Well, it is time to get the hell out of Dodge!
Wichita, Kansas to Dodge City, Kansas: 154.7 miles
3 hours 29 minutes