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Ford County, Kansas
"The Wickedest Little City in America"
"Cowboy Capital of the World"
Chamber of Commerce.
When the Santa Fe Trail opened in 1821, the route took the travelers through the Dodge City area along the north bank of the Arkansas River as they went into Colorado. Dodge City was founded in 1872, not far from Fort Dodge, which was established in 1865. It didn't take long for Dodge City to begin to grow and it quickly became a busy center for travelers and buffalo hunters. It was at this same time that the railroad came to Dodge City. The railroad gave a strong push to the area economy. It was during this old west era that Dodge City was known by many nicknames, many of them very descriptive. Here are a few: Cowboy Capital, Queen of the Cowtowns, Wickedest Little City in America, Beautiful Bibulous Babylon of the Frontier, and Buffalo Capital of the World. Once the Buffalo were decimated, farmers gathered the bones which littered the prairie and sold them. After the buffalo were basically gone, the Longhorn Cattle of Texas took over as a major source of revenue. Millions of these cattle were driven up the "Western Drive" from Texas. The cowboys that thronged the streets of Dodge City helped greatly in establishing its reputation as a "Wicked City" in those days. It was at this time that famous lawmen such as Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp helped to establish law and order here. Dodge had two sides in the late 1800s - the north side (of the railroad tracks) where guns could not be worn or carried in. The dividing line was the railroad tracks. On the south side, it was quite different, with guns allowed and just about anything else! The population of Dodge City changed with the season as the cowboys, gamblers and the like came in and out. Saloons were plentiful, as well as gambling and other related entertainments. Because of the nature of "settling differences" here, there began to be a great need for a place for the losers in these differences. Boot Hill Cemetery was used for only six years until 1878, but became one of the most famous cemeteries of the old west. It is now preserved in downtown Dodge City. By 1886, the cattle drives had finished and Fort Dodge had closed (1882). While the era of the cattle drive and the cowboy had basically been closed, Dodge City has kept the heritage alive through its historical preservation programs.
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