Dodge City,

Dodge City is a city and county seat of Ford County, Kansas. It was named after General Grenville M. Dodge, via the somewhat older military establishment, Fort Dodge, which was nearby. The population was 25,176 at the 2000 census. Dodge City is located at the junction of Highways 56 and 283, about 50 miles Southeast of Garden City.


The first settlement in the area that became Dodge City was Fort Mann. Built by civilians in 1847, Fort Mann was intended to provide protection for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. Fort Mann collapsed in 1848 after an Indian attack. In 1850, the U.S. Army arrived to provide protection in the region and constructed Fort Atkinson on the old Fort Mann site. The army abandoned Fort Atkinson in 1853. Military forces on the Santa Fe Trail were reestablished further north and east at Fort Larned in 1859, but the area around what would become Dodge City remained vacant until after the Civil War. In 1865, as the Indian Wars in the West began heating up, the army constructed Fort Dodge to assist Fort Larned in providing protection on the Santa Fe Trail. Fort Dodge remained in operation until 1882.

The town of Dodge City can trace its origins to 1871 when rancher Henry J. Sitler built a sod house east of Fort Dodge to oversee his cattle operations in the region. Conveniently located near the Santa Fe Trail and Arkansas River, Sitler's house quickly became a stopping point for travelers. With the Santa Fe Railroad rapidly approaching from the east, others saw the commercial potential of the region. In 1872, just five miles west of Fort Dodge, settlers platted out and founded the town of Dodge City. George M. Hoover established the first bar in a tent to service thirsty soldiers from Fort Dodge. The railroad arrived in September to find a town ready and waiting for business. The early settlers in Dodge City traded in buffalo bones and hides and provided a civilian community for Fort Dodge. However, with the arrival of the railroad, Dodge City soon became involved in the cattle trade.

The Cattle Trade
The idea of driving Texas longhorn cattle from Texas to railheads in Kansas originated in the late 1850s but was cut short by the Civil War. In 1866, the first Texas cattle started arriving in Baxter Springs in southeastern Kansas by way of the Shawnee Trail. However, Texas longhorn cattle carried a tick that spread splenic fever among other breeds of cattle. Known locally as Texas Fever, alarmed Kansas farmers persuaded the Kansas State Legislature to establish a quarantine line in central Kansas. The quarantine prohibited Texas longhorns from the heavily settled, eastern portion of the state.

With the cattle trade forced west, Texas longhorns began moving north along the Chisholm Trail. In 1867, the main Cow Town was Abilene, Kansas. Profits were high, and other towns quickly joined in the cattle boom. Newton in 1871; Ellsworth in 1872; and Wichita in 1872. However, in 1876 the Kansas State Legislature responded to pressure from farmers settling in central Kansas and once again shifted the quarantine line westward, which essentially eliminated Abilene and the other Cow Towns from the cattle trade. With no place else to go, Dodge City suddenly became Queen of the Cow Towns.

A new route, known as the Great Western Cattle Trail, or Western Trail, branched off from the Chisholm Trail to lead cattle into Dodge City. Dodge City became a boomtown, with thousands of cattle passing annually through its stockyards. The peak years of the cattle trade in Dodge City were from 1883 to 1884, and during that time the town grew tremendously. In 1880, Dodge City got a new competitor for the cattle trade from the border town of Caldwell. For a few years the competition between the towns was fierce, but there were enough cattle for both towns to prosper.

Nevertheless, it was Dodge City that became famous, and rightly so because no town could match Dodge City's reputation as a true frontier settlement of the Old West. Dodge City had more famous (and infamous) gunfighters working at one time or another than any other town in the West, many of whom participated in the Dodge City War of 1883. It also boasted the usual array of saloons, gambling halls, and brothels established to separate a lonely cowboy from his hard-earned cash, including the famous Long Branch Saloon and China Doll brothel. For a time in 1884, Dodge City even had a bullfighting ring where Mexican bullfighters imported from Mexico would put on a show with specially chosen longhorn bulls.

As more agricultural settlers moved into western Kansas, pressure on the Kansas State Legislature to do something about splenic fever increased. Consequently, in 1885 the quarantine line was extended across the state and the Western Trail was all but shut down. By 1886, the cowboys, saloon keepers, gamblers, and brothel owners moved west to greener pastures, and Dodge City became a sleepy little town much like other communities in western Kansas.

A Contemporary History of Dodge City
by William G. Cutler (1883)
In August, 1872, buffalo hunters and business men in various branches of industry, were attracted to this place. Buffalo hides were extensively shipped from here, and the hunters here obtained their supplies. In some three years this became the objective point for the Texas cattle trade; the cowboys from the Plains driving in here large quantities for shipment. In 1880, about 300,000 head of cattle were sold to the ranches south and west; 60,000 sheep, in flocks ranging from 200 to 2,000.

In the early history of the place, there were more or less of occurrences that savored of a border civilization, and repelled therefrom settlers of aesthetic tendencies and of high culture. But the gradual changes that have occurred, make this a point with many things desirable about it for a permanent home. Illustrative of its earlier civilization is the following resolution, adopted by the Ford County Commissioners in session May 13, 1874:

Resolved, by the board, that the following resolution be adopted: That any person who is not engaged in any legitimate business, and any person under influence of intoxicating drinks, and any person who has ever borne arms against the Government of the United States, who shall be found within the limits of the town of Dodge City, bearing on his person a pistol, bowie knife, dirk, or other deadly weapon, shall be subject to arrest upon charge of misdemeanor, and upon conviction shall be fined in a sum not exceeding $100, or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding three months, or both, at the discretion of the court, and same to take effect on date.

This might provoke an inquiry whether legal trancendentalism had here its culmination, but nine years later, the pistol and the bowie knife have given way to more humane symbols of civilization, and while Dodge City has a full quota of liquor saloons, it has a neat temple of justice, a good school building, church edifices, good newspapers, and a courteous, earnest, and progressive element in its society. Its population is just about 1,000.

H. J. Fringer was the first postmaster; Lloyd Shinn, one of the most estimable citizens of the State, died while holding the office, in December, 1882, and Nicholas B. Klaine is his successor. The Bank of Dodge City was established in 1882, with a capital stock of $50,000. G. M. Hoover is President; R. W. Evans, Cashier; H. J. Fringer, Assistant Cashier. Its correspondents are the Bank of Kansas City, the Continental Bank of St. Louis, Donnell, Lawson & Simpson, New York. Its hotels are the Dodge House, City Hotel, Grand Central, Wright House, Iowa House, and South Side Hotel. The Dodge City Flouring Mills, O. Marsh & Co., proprietors, are very well fitted to supply the surrounding country with the choicest of flour.

The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Company are building at Dodge City, a station 24x80 feet, 24 feet high, two-stories, bay windows. It will contain the ticket, telegraph and freight offices, with rooms in the upper story for the agents to reside in. The platform will be some 300 feet in length. Two roundhouses with 267 stalls each, are to be erected. The ground is laid out for the building of a machine shop in the center and south of the roundhouses. Material stands in front of the machine shop site for three turn tables, one for each roundhouse, and one to be in front of the machine shop. Work is being done on the elevated track for the new coal chute, which when built will be the largest on the road.

When completed the stock-yards will be over two miles long, and by railroad men is known as a double yard. There will be five switches on the south side of the main track; four on the north side, making working facilities for four switch engines, if necessary. All of the low land is so graded that the many acres occupied by the yards are as level as a hall floor. Each compartment of the stock-yards has its own lock and key. The pens are all provided with water tanks and feed boxes. Hoybin's patent stock chute will be used in loading the stock. The sheep pens are well laid out on the north side.

The site of the Ford County court house is a beautiful one, standing on the rise north from Broadway, where the beautiful valley of the Arkansas is seen for miles east and west of the city. The court room is the upper story, and the basement is the jail. It is a brick structure, and cost about $8,000. It was completed in the summer of 1876. The old Toll House became the Ford County Poorhouse in the winter of 1874. February 10, 1876, bridge bonds were voted by a vote of 111 to 41; current expenses bonds by a vote of 119 to 33.

Prior to April 15, 1875, Ford County paid for rent of buildings for use of the county, $75 per month. A reduction was then made to $50 per month, which price obtained the completion and occupation of the court house. Shawnee and Reno counties boarded Ford Count prisoners before the jail was occupied at large.

Churches and Societies
Schools. - The counties of Clark, Meade, Gray and Sequoyah have educational matters cared for in the organized county of Ford. John Whitaker, County Superintendent of Ford, reports in 1882, sixteen school districts in Ford County; joint district one with Edwards; joint district one of Clark and Meade; district No. 2, in Meade; district No. 1, in Gray; district No. 1, Sequoyah. The average pay per month of male teachers is $41.65; of female teachers, $32.40; persons of school age in 1879 were 439. In 1880 it was 5?3; in 1882 it was 1,002. The Dodge City school had an enrollment of 284 pupils for December, 1882. The number of persons of school age in the district was 450. Five teachers are employed; the principal, John Groendyke, has $65 per month; the four female teachers have an average of $41 per month. The school building is a neat, roomy structure in the southwest part of the city, built of brick. John Whitaker is President, John Groendyke Secretary of the Ford County Teachers' Association.

Dodge City is located at 37°45'35N, 100°1'6W (37.759671, -100.018212)GR1. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 32.9 km² (12.7 mi²). 32.7 km² (12.6 mi²) of it is land and 0.3 km² (0.1 mi²) of it (0.86%) is water.
Dodge City is served by two commercial airlines at Dodge City Regional Airport.

As of the census of 2000, there were 25,176 people, 8,395 households, and 5,968 families residing in the city. The population density was 770.9/km² (1,995.8/mi²). There were 8,976 housing units at an average density of 274.8/km² (711.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 71.43% White, 1.94% African American, 0.69% Native American, 2.37% Asian, 0.15% Pacific Islander, 20.82% from other races, and 2.61% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 42.87% of the population.

There were 8,395 households out of which 41.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.1% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.9% were non-families. 23.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.94 and the average family size was 3.46.

In the city the population was spread out with 31.2% under the age of 18, 12.3% from 18 to 24, 30.0% from 25 to 44, 16.5% from 45 to 64, and 10.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females there were 106.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 104.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $37,156, and the median income for a family was $41,672. Males had a median income of $26,881 versus $22,064 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,538. About 11.1% of families and 13.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.4% of those under age 18 and 9.1% of those age 65 or over.

Dodge City
Dodge City Regional Airport

Notable Natives
Dennis Hopper, actor and film-maker
Lila Leeds, actress

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