Dodge City Today Yesteryear

      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.
Population: 1950, 10,471. 1960, 13,520. 1963 (estimated), 14,500. Area, 3.375 Sq. mi. (2160 acres).
Population, 96% native white. Ford County population: 1950--18,788; 1960 -20,938. Dodge City is the county seat of Ford County.

252 Early Ford County

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.
Fire Department consists of 2 stations, 6 pieces of motor equipment, 17 paid men. (Class IV insurance rating)
Police Department has 4 pieces of motor equipment, 17 men.
Municipal Auditorium is one of the finest in America, with seating capacity of over 4,000, and parking for approximately 1,500 automobiles.
The Recreation Commission is tax supported by city and school district ('2 mill levy). Groups are organized for weaving, ceramics, leathercraft, wood and metal working, square dancing, bridge, etc. Program is flexible to meet demands.
Supervised playground activities and game equipment.
Sewer disposal plant has 3 million gallon capacity; peak demand is 2 million gallons. Garbage and trash pick-up by city.
Municipal water system from deep wells. 9,000 gallons per minute capacity. Peak demand, 5,000 gpm. Supply unlimited. Storage capacity, 1 million gallons now, an additional I million gallons planned.
Climate: Average yearly precipitation, 20.58 inches. Average snowfall, 20 inches. Visibility generally unrestricted. Average percent of sunshine, 70%. Coldest month, January with average 30.3 degrees. Hottest month, July with average 79.9 degrees. Annual average, 55 degrees.
Altitude: 2509 ft. above sea level (at postoffice street level) ; municipal airport, 2592 ft. above sea level.
Trade Territory. Southwest Kansas. More than 125,000 persons shop in Dodge City. Trade area population depends on type of merchandise, ranging from 48,000 to 125,000-plus.
Tourist Attractions: World famous Boot Hill and Front Street replica; Beeson Museum with over 6,000 authentic Dodge City relics; Cowboy Statue, Ham Bell Memorial, Yoked Oxen memorial, Ft. Atkinson and Ft. Mann sites, Caches, 100th

Dodge City Today Yesteryear 253

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.
Amusements: Special attractions at municipal auditorium (seating 4,026 for solo or speaker; stage events, 3,418; basketball and arena events, 3,208). Downtown motion picture theatre; two drive in theatres, one of which is open year round. Two golf courses, one golf driving range. National motorcycle racing. Rodeo, Saddleclub roundup. Square dancing. Fishing, hunting, swimming, boating, water skiing, dancing, roller skating, bowling, etc. High school and college basketball, football, track, tennis, baseball, golf, etc. District and state tournaments.
Cultural Activities: Knife and Fork Club; Community Concert Association, pop band concert, municipal Cowboy Band concerts; art association, adult education program, music and book study clubs.
Service Clubs and Organizations: Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, Elks, Shrine and other Masonic orders, Knights of Columbus, Moose Lodge, Odd Fellows, Optimist, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, American G. I. Forum, Women's Chamber of Commerce, Jaycees, Business and Professional Women's Club, Soroptimist, Quarterback Club, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Boot Hill Saddle Club, New Era Federated Club, Parent-Teachers Association, American Association of University Women, ministerial alliance, hospital auxiliaries, historical society, D.A.R., N.A.A.C.P. chapter, garden clubs, Salvation Army, duplicate bridge club, etc.
Professions: 25 M.D.'s; 7 dentists; 4 optometrists; 1 osteopath; 4 chiropractors; I chiropodist. Attorneys-13 offices with 21 attorneys. CPA's -- 6 ; accountants - 9. Architects - 2. Pharmacists 11. Registered nurses 86. Teachers (including college professors)-259. Civil engineers, electrical engineers, etc.
Education: One four-year college; one two-year college. Senior high school (public), parochial high school, public junior high school, five public elementary schools, one parochial elementary school. Financial assets of all schools total more than $8,244,000. 5,233 students plus adult training courses in both colleges. Registered nursing training, practical nursing

254 Early Ford County

licensing course, cosmetology. Bond issue voted (January, 1963) for enlarging senior high school, and other facilities in the amount of $1,500,000.
Hospitals: Two, with total of 123 beds, both approved by Joint Commission of Hospital Accreditation.
Churches: Assembly of God, First Baptist, Second Baptist, Berean Baptist, Sixth Avenue (Southern) Baptist, Bible Missionary, Central Christian, First Christian, Church of Christ, First Church of Christ Scientist, First Church of God, First Church of God in Christ, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, St. Cornelius Episcopal Church, Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church (R.C.), Holy Cross Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod), Hope Lutheran Church (A.L.C.), Messiah Lutheran Church (A.L.C.), Mennonite Chapel, St. James African Methodist Church, First Methodist Church, First Missionary Church, First Church of the Nazarene, Pentecostal Holiness Church, First Presbyterian Church, Sacred Heart Cathedral (R.C.), The Salvation Army, Seventh Day Adventist, Wilroads Gardens Christian Church.
Automobile Registration: 1962-9,547 passenger vehicles, 4,454 trucks (Ford County). Postal Receipts: 1962-$336,340.
Hotels and Motels: 7 hotels with 321 rooms. 11 motels with 299 units, and additional construction under way.
Parks: 6, with total of 90 acres. Picnic and barbecue facilities, zoo, playground equipment, swimming pool, stadium, track, etc. Zoo includes live longhorn steer, "Lucifer."
Overnight camping for families and groups may be arranged through the superintendent of Wright Park.
News Media: Dodge City Daily Globe (daily except Sunday) ; High Plains Journal (farm weekly) ; Radio Station KGNO (5,000 watts, 1370 kilocycles) ; Radio Station KEDD (1,000 watts, daytime, 1550 kilocycles) ; KTVC-TV, Channel 6 interconnected with KTVH-TV (Wichita-Hutchinson) and CBS-TV network by means of private relay system (28,200 watts; Class B service radius, 53 miles; offices in Dodge City, transmitter near Ensign).
Financial Institutions: Two banks with assets of $26,728,385. Total bank deposits, $24,249,796.84. Two savings and loan associations with assets of $16,678,366.28. One federal credit

Dodge City Today Yesteryear 255

union with assets of $3,168,481.95. (All figures given for December 31, 1962). Several loan companies and offices.
Federal Offices: Department of Agriculture (Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation, Farmers Home Administration, Milk Marketing Administration, Soil Conservation Service, Wheat Sedimentation Laboratory), Army Advisor to Kansas National Guard, Army Recruiting Substation, Army Reserve (2 units, Headquarters Co.; objective, BCT), Department of Commerce (weather forecasting station), Federal Aviation Agency Flight Service Station, Federal Crop Insurance Office, Social Security Administration district office, Navy Recruiting Substation, Post Office and Post Office Inspector, Selective Service Board for 3-county area, Treasury Department Internal Revenue Service, Wage-Hour representative.
Planning and Zoning: Metropolitan Planning Commission working under master plan. Taxes: Municipal rate (1962) $2.611 per $100 valuation, assessed at 19%, actual value. County rate (1962) $1.651 per $100 valuation, assessed 19% of actual value. Tools and machinery assessed at 18% actual value. Tangible valuation (1962), Ford County $50,052,504. Assessed Valuation (1962), Dodge City-$14,330,760.
Transportation : Rail-Santa Fe mainline; Rock island branch line. REA Express agency.
Trucking-13 freight lines, haulers, movers.
Air-Scheduled commercial service to Denver and Kan. City four flights daily except weekend variations. Air charter and ambulance service available. FAA approved repair station. Hangar space available. Air express and air freight. Recently improved airport facilities, runway lighting, restaurant, administration building houses eleven offices, surfacing of parking areas new shops and hangars, etc.
Highways-US 50, US 56, US 154, US 283. Good routes in all directions.
Energy and Sources: Gas-distributed by Peoples Natural Gas, a division of Northern Natural Gas. Industrial rate as low as $.18 per 1,000 cu. ft. Supplied through two major lines from the Hugoton Field. Supply unlimited.

256 Early Ford County

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.
Industrial Development: Establishment and expansion of plants encouraged through Dodge City Industrial Development Corporation. Sites available in planned industrial park, airport, and undeveloped raw land. Data available. Soil bearing capacity no factor. Average elevation above high water level, 10 to 100 feet.


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.

Dodge City Today Yesteryear 257

Retail and Wholesale Center
Ford County and Dodge City have consistently ranked among the leading counties and cities in Kansas for volume of retail and wholesale activity as well as special and professional services. Dry goods, hardware, clothing, heavy and light equipment, supplies of all types arc marketed either in Dodge City or the immediate vicinity. The Tenth Federal Reserve District survey showed Dodge City had more retail employees per thousand people than any other city in the district. County retail sales amount to more than $40 million per year, with sales in Dodge City accounting for nearly $35 million of the total.
From 1962 "Survey of Buying Power," Sales Management Magazine: Population Dodge City, 13,400; of U. S., .0073; number of households, 4,300. Effective Buying Income (net after taxes), $26,163,000; % of the U. S., .0072; Per Capita, $1,952; Per Household, $6,084.
Income Breakdown of Households:
$0-$2,49922.3% of households-6.% of Inc.
$2,500-$3,99919.9% of households-11.3% of Inc.
$4,000 $6,99933.97% of households-32.1% of Inc.
$7,000-9,99910.4% of households-15.1% of Inc.
$10,000 and over13.5% of households-35.5 % of Inc.

"Sales Activity Index" is 205, second highest in Kansas. All cities in Kansas with greater volume of sales have population greater than Dodge City by 4,000 or more. Survey of Buying Power ranks Dodge City ninth in Kansas in percentage of households with income of $7,000 or over. Of Dodge City households, 57.8 percent have incomes over $4,000. Effective buying income per capita is $1,952 which ranks Dodge City twelfth in Kansas. Dodge City is eighth in total retail sales among Kansas cities, and 18th in population. Ford County ranks 12th in total retail sales and 24th in population of state counties.

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.

258 Early Ford County

Classified as "blue collar" in the government's report are craftsmen, machinists, foremen, operatives, farmers and other production workers.
In Ford County according to the findings, white collar workers now occupy 43.1 percent of all jobs. This is a higher ratio than prevails in most parts of the United States, where white collar workers comprise 41.1 percent of the total. In the West North Central states, they amount to 39.3 percent.
Locally, at the time of the Commerce Department's 1960 tabulation, there were 3,363 men and women employed in white collar jobs and 4,440 in blue collar.

      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

Dodge City Today Yesteryear 259

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

260 Early Ford County

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.


Go to the previous chapter      Return to the Early Ford County Index

Dodge City History