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Dodge City
The Cowboy Capital

[Photo: Historical marker on US Highway 50 near Dodge City, KS. Dodge City, the Cowboy Capital. Placed by the Kansas State Historical Society and the Kansas State Highway Commission]

Kansas historical marker on US Highway 50 near Dodge City, KS

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.

Erected by the Kansas Historical Society and State Highway Commission

Return to the Kansas History or the Old West Kansas
or to Dodge City History.
Photograph by Nancy Sween: All rights reserved, Kansas Heritage Group, Dodge City, KS; Page posted: 28 November 2004; updated 27 April 2018.