Welcome to Dodge City, Kansas - a favorite of Western movies and one of the most iconic of Wild West towns (like Tombstone, Arizona, where the famous Gunfight At The O.K. Corral took place). The experience to "get the hell out of dodge" hails from Dodge City, Kansas, and comes from the many Westerns filmed there. The movies often depict Dodge City as a lawless frontier town with the sheriff trying to keep law and order and telling the criminals in town to "get out."
Today visitors are greeted by a laid-back Kansas town - a stark contrast to what it was once like. It is well worth visiting and has plenty of family-friendly attractions. Perhaps the most iconic landscape of the Wild West is the Sonoran Desert, with the famous cactuses and being close to the border with Mexico.
Dodge City - The Embodiment Of The Wild West
"In its heyday, Dodge City epitomized the “Wild West.” Daily gunfights arose in the main street, which was lined with saloons and brothels."
Dodge City today has a population of around 28,000 and is one of the most famous towns in American culture for its history as a wild frontier town. It has been immortalized many times in the film as representative of the Old West.
- Population: 28,000
The settlement of the area around Dodge City dates from 1847 when it was still a part of Mexico, but the actual city dates from 1871. A fort was built there to provide protection for travelers making their way along the Santa Fe Trail. After the Civil War, the American Frontier Wars began to heat up and Fort Dodge was built. Soon the railroad arrived, and Dodge City thrived on the cattle trade.
- Founded: 1871
- Heyday: 1883-1884
- Cattle: Dodge City Was A Cattle Trading Town
Soon Dodge City became a boomtown with thousands of cattle passing through its stockyards. The peak of the cattle trade was 1883-1884. It even earned itself the nickname "Queen of the Cowtowns."
The Reputation Of Dodge City & Fights
No town matched Dodge City's reputation as a frontier settlement of the Wild West. It even had more gunfighters working there at one time or another than any other town in the West. One can learn all about that and more with the Dodge City Trail of Fame.
In 1883 the Dodge City War broke out. The conflict was a showdown between Luke Short and his supporters and the Dodge City mayor, who tried to force Short to close the saloon and leave town (aka get the hell out of Dodge). While it was a bloodless conflict, it produced one of the most iconic photos of Western gamblers and gunfighters of the West.
- Dodge City War: A Bloodless Showdown Between The Mayor And Luke Short
After a few years, the cattle trade moved on, and Dodge City became a sleepy Kansas town.
In its day, Dodge City had the typical collection of gambling halls, brothels, and saloons. Some of the most notable were the Long Branch Saloon and the China Doll brothel. It even had a bullfighting ring with Mexican bullfighters would perform.
Attractions In Dodge City
Dodge City has plenty of museums, landmarks, and historical sites. The downtown is promoted as historic Old Dodge City and has plenty of Western-themed attractions.
One of the things to do is to take a trolley ride around the historic district or to take the Dodge City Trail of Fame walking tour.
- Boot Hill Museum: Exhibits The Frontier Days Of Dodge
- Cowboy Hall of Fame: Tells Stories of The Area's Most Famous (and Infamous) Frontiersmen
- Long Branch Saloon: Rebuilt To Look Exactly As It Once Did
- Boot Hill Cemetery: Captures The Violence of The Wild West
- Dodge City Roundup Rodeo: Cowboy Performance With Roping Contests, Horse Shows, & More
Boot Hill Cemetery reminds one of the violence of Dodge's history - it is so named because many of the men buried there died with their boots on. Boot Hill Museum has plenty of artifacts as well as partial reconstructions of downtown Dodge City.
Plan one's trip with the official Visit Dodge City website and delve into the rich Old West heritage of the United States.