For ten years this was the largest cattle market in the world and for fifteen it was the wildest town on the American frontier. Established with the coming of the Santa Fe in 1872, Dodge City became the shipping center of the Southwest. The hunters who exterminated the buffalo here marketed several million dollars worth of hides and meat. Hundreds of wagon trains carried supplies to Western towns and army posts. By 1875 most cattle trails led to Dodge; in 1884 Texas drovers alone brought 106 herds numbering 300,000 head. As a rendezvous for hunters,trappers, cowboys, soldiers, railroad builders, bullwhackers, Indians, saloon keepers, dance hall girls, thugs and gamblers, the town became notorious for vice and violence. Some victims were buried on Boot Hill. Eventually law was enforced by such "two-gun marshals" as Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, and Bill Tilghman.
Near Dodge City are sites of old Fort Mann and Fort Atkinson. The Santa Fe trail which they were established to protect may still be traced on the near-by prairie.