STATISTICAL INFORMATION ON DODGE CITY, BY DALE HARMON, Secretary-Manager, Dodge City Chamber of Commerce:
Dodge City's illustrious history has been spread around the world through the means of movies, television, radio, and numerous stories appearing in newspapers, magazines, and novels. Some accounts have been "stretched" a bit, but by and large most stories about the Cowboy Capital's rip-roaring past are a matter of record, and well worth repeating. Daily inquiries about the Dodge City of "yesterday and today" come from all over the United States as well as foreign countries.
Although the days of Dodge City's famous Long Branch Saloon, Wyatt Earp, and "Doc" Holliday are the basis for our present-day fame and publicity, the evolution of Dodge City from a cowtown to a leading trade center with modern, up to date facilities is perhaps more significant and interesting than its fabled past. Even though Earp and Holliday no longer walk the streets of Dodge City, a certain portion of the atmosphere associated with their presence still prevails. The same desire and fortitude that conquered the West and provided the legacy to build Dodge City into the modern, progressive and energetic community it is today, is still present in the hearts and minds of its citizens.
Location: 100th Meridian at the Arkansas River; Southwest Kansas,
approximately 125 miles east of the Kansas-Colorado line, and 50 miles north of
the Kansas-Oklahoma line. Midway between New York and Los Angeles, San Francisco.
850 miles southwest of Chicago. 152 miles west of Wichita. 367 miles southeast of
Denver. 343 miles southwest of Kansas City. 260 miles northwest of Oklahoma City.
383 miles southwest of Omaha.
City Government: Commission composed of
Mayor, Finance, and Utilities and Streets commissioners who are elected to
three-year terms. Other city officials and departments include city engineer,
city inspector, city clerk, fire department, police department, sanitation
department, water department, street department, municipal airport, park
department, municipal auditorium, cemetery sexton, library, recreation
commission, police judge.
Meridian, Twin Sun Dials, Fort Dodge, Santa Fe Trail traces, terminal of the
Dodge-Texas cattle trail. World's largest feeder cattle auction sales, cattle
feed lots, and Front Street.
licensing course, cosmetology. Bond issue voted (January, 1963) for enlarging
senior high school, and other facilities in the amount of $1,500,000.
union with assets of $3,168,481.95. (All figures given
for December 31, 1962). Several loan companies and offices.
Electricity-Western Light and Telephone Co., Steam
generating plant interconnected with other major electrical companies. Large
reserve of power assured. Industrial rate, 1.8 cents to .8 cents per KWH.
Agriculture: Hard red winter wheat; sorghum grains; cattle; hogs; feeds; poultry; alfalfa forage sorghums. Irrigation of special crops. Center of agricultural area. Cattle feed lots with present capacity of 23,000 head. Most lots expanding at fast rate. Two cattle sales arenas. Largest feeder quality auction sale in the world. Federally inspected beef slaughter plant. Elevators, grain storage, grain processing, etc. 1,102 farms in Ford County ( 1960). Total value of field crops (1960) - $15,003,100. Total value of livestock and poultry produced (1960) -$5,118,120.
Tourist and Convention Center: Income estimated from these sources varies from $8 million to $15 million per year. Hotel, motel, and restaurant facilities developed for peak tourist season are ideal for convention use. Nearly 400,000 persons visit Boot Hill annually.
Mineral Resources: Sand, gravel, gypsum, clay, underdeveloped glass sand deposit, gas, oil, limestone, unlimited water supply, volcanic ash, salt, chalk.
Manufacturing: Products include musical drum heads, grain loaders, augers, cattle chutes, portable corrals, steel buildings, precision aircraft parts, dairy products, mechanical post hole diggers, canvas goods, TV antenna towers, stock racks, ready-mix concrete, cement blocks, grain dryers, plows, castings, insecticide and weed sprayers, neon signs, printing and publishing, industrial sorghum grain flour, etc.
Other Sources of Income: Education, transportation, professions, services, real estate, hospitals, Kansas National Guard, state and county offices, news media, amusements, attractions, construction, etc.
Retail and Wholesale Center
A special series of reports by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, combined with data from the Department of Commerce, show (in Ford County) a 16 percent increase since 1950 in the number of white collar workers. This was in line with the growing demand for clerical, management, professional and sales personnel.
Classified as "blue collar" in the government's
report are craftsmen, machinists, foremen, operatives, farmers and other
The author is grateful for all this information about Dodge City, which is used with the consent of the Chamber of Commerce. Also grateful for the consent of Don Ankerholz, Manager of Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, at Dodge City, Kansas for an article, Dodge City-City of Gunsmoke, by Fred Cook, written for the January, 1963, issue of Southwestern Scene, a magazine published eleven times a year for the employees and friends of Southwestern Bell Telephone Company. It is used to bring the History of Ford County to a close.
Every Saturday night Dodge City, Kansas, gets a million dollars worth of publicity.
For about an hour, the 13,500 population of "The Cowboy Capital of the World" swells to an impressive 30 million or so as folks like you (if you're a "Gunsmoke" fan) from all over the country drift silently into town along the magic trails of television.
You rest your trail dusty boots on the Long Branch Saloon's bar rail. Quench your thirst with a sarsaparilla. Jump for cover when Marshal Dillon draws on the ornery critter who's causing Miss Kitty trouble. Silently urge Chester to move faster as he limps back to Doc's office, a sure sign there's been a shooting. Old Boot Hill, you think, is getting mighty crowded.
Dodge City. That must have really been some town in its heyday, you think. And you're right. It was. And it still is. Just turn the pages and see. If it's a modern, progressive city you're looking for, you'll find it in Dodge City. Or, if it's excitement of the old west you're hankering for, you'll find that in Dodge City, too-on historic old Front Street.
Front Street, now, as in the late 1880's, is swarming with
cowpokes. They carry six-shooters. They draw at the drop of a hat. During the heavy summer tourist season, there are at least half a dozen shootings and a stage robbery or so every day. These "gun slingers" are college students (working their way through college). And the tough looking stranger, anxious to try his quick draw ability, is anyone of a thousand youngsters from all over the nation visiting Front Street. And loving every gun toting minute of it.
Front Street, or the Replica as Dodge Citians calls it, is one square block of authentic western lore. Three of the buildings house part of the famous Beeson Museum Collection, a collection of early day western objects covering the history of the Southwest and Dodge City. Alongside are Rath and Wright's General Store, the Long Branch Saloon, and a Tonsorial Palace--each a perfect site for a bit of western make-believe.
Up behind the Replica is Boot Hill, where the "hanging tree" still stands amid the tombstones of the good and bad who died with their boots on. Not too far away stands Dodge City's first jail a constant reminder to the cowpokes (now as in 1800's) that if they get too wild in the Long Branch, they may end up in the "pokey."
But the Long Branch, then as now, is the main attraction. For a bit of color and excitement-turn the page. "Miss Kitty" makes the Long Branch a roaring success today as she did in early frontier days. Today's "Miss Kitty" is Rosie Mock, a native of Dodge City who directs and stages one of the most professional productions on Broadway. Her husband, Dr. Lewis F. Mock, a Dodge City optometrist, is the "Old Professor." He's at the piano pounding out honky-tonk music for the show seven nights a week during the tourist season. Mandy Mock, their daughter, also stars in the show singing old-fashioned camp trail ballads. Paul McShane is soloist and chief "gun slinger." Occasionally, Dodge City's real Marshal Ramon K. House drops by to chat with "Miss Kitty."
From the time of the first drive up the Santa Fe and Cimarron trails to the railroad in the 1870's cattle have played a vital role in Dodge City's economy and history.
In the 1870's, over 300,000 head a year moved to eastern markets through Dodge City's stockyards, bringing prosperity and lawlessness-to the prairie "boom town."
Today, on the same site, a new industry has grown up: Feed
Yards. Some cattle are still brought from points all over the Southwest, but they aren't shipped immediately. Instead, they are put in the special Feed Yards and fattened for market. Many cattle are raised entirely in the Feed Yards, which have a capacity for 23,000 head.
Another thing has changed: Market isn't in the East anymore. It's right in Dodge City. The McKinley-Winter Livestock Commission Company, for example, is the largest stocker and feeder auction market in the world. Its "sale barn" is also world famous. It's even air-conditioned! If you're interested in buying cattle, you'll find the sale ring area is furnished with comfortable theatre seats, excellent lighting, and a battery of modern bookkeeping machines to speed transactions. Over 250,000 head are auctioned here annually in air-conditioned comfort. Outside, the stockyards have modern grain tight feeders that can hold either grain or water for the cattle.
Western string ties are still very much the fashion in Dodge City. They're a symbol of the past, which Dodge Citians are mighty proud of. But Dodge City doesn't live in the past. It looks to the future. And is building for it. The new Municipal Auditorium is a good example. Unique for a town the size of Dodge City, it seats 4,000 thousand, was built to attract conventions and give local residents a cultural center. It has already paid off handsomely in both cases.
"Gunsmoke" may be a reminder of the past, but growth and get-up-and-go are the key words in Dodge City's future.
Men of the past, the builders and the fighters, have become legendary. Their names appear in the news, their figures flit across the screens, and their gift to the people who reside in Ford County, is priceless. May the stories in this book, Early Ford County, keep us ever mindful that Ford County truly was not organized in a day.