Monday, October 31, 2011

Dodge City, Kansas

Dodge City was founded in 1872, just five miles west of Fort
Dodge on the edge of the military reservation. It quickly became a
trade center for travelers and buffalo hunters. The same year, the
railroad reached Dodge City, assuring its continued existence and
making it a major shipping point. An estimated 850,000 buffalo
hides were shipped from Dodge City in the years 1872-1874.
Through the years Dodge has had many titles: Buffalo
Capital of the World, Cowboy Capital, Queen of the Cowtowns,
Wickedest Little City in America, Beautiful Bibulous Babylon of
the Frontier and others. Dodge City was the buffalo capital for
five years until mass slaughter destroyed the huge herds and left
the prairie littered with decaying carcasses.

Farmers, during hard times, gathered the bones and sold
them for six to eight dollars a ton. The bones were used in the
manufacture of china and for fertilizer

By 1875, the buffalo were gone as a source of revenue, but
the Longhorn cattle of Texas soon took their place. From 1875
to 1886, over 5,000,000 cattle were driven up the Western Trail
from Texas to Dodge City. Cowboys from the cattle drives had
more than a little influence in establishing Dodge City’s reputation
as the wildest town on the western frontier. Such notable law
men as Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp became legends in their
own time as they fought to bring law and order to the streets
of Dodge City.

The town these early men knew was laid out with two Front
Streets, one on either side of the railroad tracks. The city passed
an ordinance that guns could not be worn or carried north of
the ‘deadline’ which was the railroad tracks.

The south side where ‘anything went’ was wide open. In
1876 the population was 1,200 and nineteen businesses were
licensed to sell liquor.

During those first years the population varied according to the
season, swelling during the summer with the influx of cowboys,
buyers, gamblers and prostitutes. Business houses, dance halls
and saloons catered to the Texas trade. Saloon keepers renamed
their places Nueces, Alamo and Lone Star and served brandies,
liqueurs and the latest mixed drinks. Ice usually was available so
even beer could be served cold. Some saloons advertised anchovies
and Russian caviar on their cold lunch menus.
Gambling ranged from a game of five cent Chuck-a-luck to
thousand dollar poker pots. Many saloons offered some type of
musical entertainment, a piano player, a singer, or as in Chalk
Beeson’s Long Branch, a five piece orchestra.
Beeson also organized and led the famous Cowboy Band
which entertained all over the west at cattlemen’s conventions,
concerts, dances and in
Washington, D.C. at the
inauguration of President
The town thrived and its
populace of buffalo hunters,
railroad workers, soldiers
and drifters “settled their
differences” in shoot-outs.
Lawlessness reigned, creating
the need for a burial place
... Boot Hill Cemetery.
For six years Dodge
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. Boot Hill, now a
part of downtown Dodge City, is the most famous burial ground
in all western lore, even though it was used only until 1878.
Fort Dodge was closed in 1882 and by 1886, the cattle
drives had ended. An illustrious period of history was over but
the legend lives on in Dodge City’s historic preservation of its
romantic and internationally famous past.
   — Kansas Heritage Center

Dodge City sign from the west side

Dodge City Sign from the East Side


We went up the hill for a tour of Boot Hill. Boot Hill was the resting place for the indigent people who died in the early years of Dodge City.

The jail is relocated here. Built about 1865.


This tombstone reads: A Buffalo Hunter Named McGill who amused himself by shooting into every house he passed. He wont pass this way again. Died March 1873


A Photo of what is left of the original boot hill


Replica of the Long Branch Saloon. In the 1970’s Washington had money available for down town rejuvenation and many of the historic buildings of Dodge City disappeared. The Long Branch Saloon had burned down years earlier.


Had to have a saparilla at the Long Branch Saloon.


Downtown Dodge City




Santa Fe Trail Tracks 1822 to 1872 near Dodge City, Kansas

The Santa Fe Trail Rut Site

The Santa Fe Trail served as the pioneer highway from 1821 to 1872 as a link from the east to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  The trail allowed traders to move goods across the country safely and easily.  Nine miles east of Dodge City you can see the most clearly defined rut trails, still visible after almost 150 years.  The site is nestled among the gently rolling hills of the Kansas plains, where the breeze moves the grasses and the peace of nature accompanies this enduring piece of unique history.  Don't miss the opportunity to see this rare landmark.

Soule Ditch

The Soule Canal, listed on the National Register of Historic Sites, includes the Eureka Irrigating Canal.  This ditch and canal were put under construction in 1883 by Asa T. Soule, a prominent Dodge Citizen, and can only be seen as nothing less than an engineering marvel from the 19th century. 

Here are a few photos:


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Buffalo Bill in Oakley, Kansas

We stopped at the Buffalo Bill bronze in Oakley, Kansas. This is where the legend started.

Buffalo Bill, Buffalo Kill Statue

This magnificent sculpture of Buffalo Bill about to bring down a buffalo is on Hwy. 83 and 2nd Ave. It was created by sculptor and painter Charlie Norton. In 1868, William F. Cody -- "Buffalo Bill" -- was making his living as a contract buffalo hunter, feeding the crews laying tracks for the Kansas Pacific Railroad. At the same time, William Comstock, also known as "Buffalo Bill," made his living as a contract buffalo hunter feeding the soldiers at Fort Wallace.

To determine the real "Buffalo Bill," a contest was held west of Oakley. Bill Cody brought down 69 buffalo and Bill Comstock brought down 46 buffalo. From that day forward, the legend of William F."Buffalo Bill" Cody was born. [Joe Boulter, 10/28/2006]


We are in Kansas!!! ( Downtown Oakley to be exact)


Monument Rock, Kansas

Just south of Oakley, Kansas is a very unusual piece of sandstone called Monument Rock.

From Wikipedia

Monument Rocks (also Chalk Pyramids) are a series of large chalk formations in Gove County, Kansas, rich in fossils. It is a National Natural Landmark. It was the first landmark chosen by the US Department of the Interior as a national natural landmark. The chalk formations reach a height of up to 70 ft. and include formations such a buttes and arches. They were formed 80 million years ago.

On January 29, 2008, Monument Rocks and Castle Rock were jointly named as one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas.


This may be one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas, but the signage was terrible and the road was just like a Saskatchewan gravel side road.

Some photos:



On the way we saw a new crop that we have never seen before. They seem to plant this crop where the irrigation does NOT reach.


This is sorghum, or as the locals call it Milo.

One species, Sorghum bicolor,[1] is an important world crop, used for food (as grain and in sorghum syrup or "sorghum molasses"), fodder, the production of alcoholic beverages, as well as biofuels. Most varieties are drought and heat tolerant, and are especially important in arid regions, where the grain is staple or one of the staples for poor and rural people. They form an important component of pastures in many tropical regions. Sorghum is an important food crop in Africa, Central America, and South Asia and is the "fifth most important cereal crop grown in the world"

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Carhenge !!!!!

On todays road trip we stopped in a small city called Alliance, Nebraska in the Corn Belt.

Here we find CARHENGE.


and low and behold the people of this town have recreated Stonehenge with automobiles.


Road Trip to North Platte, Nebraska

Today we spent a long day on the road traveling to North Platte, Nebraska through a huge area of stabilized sand dunes.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mount Rushmore then Custer State Park

Today we did the tour of Mount Rushmore then drove through Custer State Park. Unfortunately the Needles Highway was not open.

Portions of Needles Highway in Custer State Park were closed for about three weeks because of logging operations to fight mountain pine beetles.