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Dodge City in Ford County, Kansas — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Wild and woolly Front Street

 
 
Wild and woolly Front Street Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., November 10, 2012
1. Wild and woolly Front Street Marker
Inscription.

This map depicts businesses known to have existed along Dodge City's Front Street between 1878 and 1882. As the town grew, other establishments were located farther north of Front Street, as well as south of the railroad tracks. Modern street names are in parentheses.

1. Blacksmith and wagon shop
2. Saddle and harness shop
3. Dr. T.L. McCarty's drug store and post office
4. Wright, Beverley & Co. merchandise
5. Alamo saloon
6. Long Branch saloon
7. Hoover's wholesale liquors and saloon
8. Zimmermann's hardware
9. Lone Star saloon
10. York, Hadder & Draper Mercantile Co.
11. Jacob Collar's dry goods, furniture, coffins, and undertaker's goods
12. Alhambra saloon
13. Centennial barber shop
14. Beatty & Kelley's restaurant, 1872-1879
13. & 14. Kelley's Opera House, 1879-1898
15. Old House saloon
16. Boot shop; tailor shop
17. Occident saloon
18. Butcher shop
19. York, Hadder & Draper (east store)
20. Bakery
21. Mueller's boot and shop shop
22. Dodge House hotel, billiard hall, and saloon
23. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad depot

The business center of early Dodge City was located just north of the railroad tracks along Front Street. In the two or three blocks west of the depot could be found
Wild and woolly Front Street Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., November 10, 2012
2. Wild and woolly Front Street Marker
Looking east along Front Street from 2nd Avenue
all of the goods and services needed by settlers, travelers, cowboys, and soldiers.

The first business buildings were simple frame structures. A series of fires in 1885 destroyed much of downtown and several warehouses south of the railroad. The buildings were replaced with brick structures that remained in place until removed by an Urban Renewal project in the early 1970s. The parking lots on either side of you are built on the site of the early rip-roaring town of Dodge City.

After wearing the same clothes for months on a long cattle trail, cowboys in Dodge City often bought new "duds." Several firms carried clothing, but the largest was Rath & Company, later Robert M. Wright's General Merchandise Company. Everything from cowboy work clothes to velveteen suits, ivory-handled Colts to spurs, and candy to sheep dip could be found there. Wright, a founder of Dodge City, built his retail trade into one of the largest businesses in western Kansas.

After a bath and new clothes, cowboys were ready for recreation and a chance "to get rid of the trail dust." Several Front Street saloons had names that appealed to Texans - Lone Star, Alhambra, Alamo, Nueces. One of the most popular was the Long Branch. The bar, billiard tables, and orchestra occupied the front room. In the back was a private room for gambling and another in which to lock up drunks. Saloons featured
Image on Wild and woolly Front Street Marker image. Click for full size.
By Unknown, 1875
3. Image on Wild and woolly Front Street Marker
[Caption reads] Dodge City's Front Street between First and Second avenues in 1875
the latest mixed drinks, and beer was served ice cold - a frontier rarity. Henry Sturm's saloon featured anchovies and Russian caviar on the menu.

A popular resort in Dodge City is the famous Long Branch, which enjoys a good patronage at all seasons of the year. The bar dispenses the choicest wines, liquors, and cigars. This establishment has fine billiard tables, to which the lovers of the game are to pass a pleasant hour.
- Dodge City Times, December 1877

Several Front Street businesses rented rooms, but the Dodge House was the primary hotel in town from 1872 to 1883. Located across from the depot, the hotel contained thirty-eight rooms, a restaurant, bar, and billiard hall. It was the largest hotel in western Kansas and a favorite of cattlemen, commercial travelers, and boarders. Between 1874 and 1876 the U.S. Army Signal Corps maintained a weather station in the building. The Dodge City Times, June 8, 1878, reported that John H. "Doc" Holliday was seeing patients in room 24 at the Dodge House.

Businesses came and went, moved locations, and changed during those early years. Between 1878 and 1882 a variety of establishments could be found in the three blocks between Central and Third streets: a blacksmith and harness shop, doctor's office and post office, hardware and dry goods store (which also carried coffins and undertaker's supplies),
Image on Wild and woolly Front Street Marker image. Click for full size.
By Unknown, circa late 1800s
4. Image on Wild and woolly Front Street Marker
[Caption reads] The Long Branch Saloon was one of the most popular stops for thirsty cowboys. An orchestra entertained nightly.
barbershop, opera house, boot and tailor shop, butcher shop, and eight saloons.

Dodge City was an exciting place to live during those times. It attracted a special group of pioneers who appreciated adventure and the challenges of life on the frontier. Nineteenth-century Front Street was a unique setting in the Old West. Its stories and legends have produced books, magazine articles, radio programs, television series, and movies for later generations and beyond.

Photographs and other images courtesy of the Kansas State Historical Society, Boot Hill Museum, and the Kansas Heritage Center
 
Location. 37° 45.177′ N, 100° 1.153′ W. Marker is in Dodge City, Kansas, in Ford County. Marker is at the intersection of Front Street and 2nd Avenue, on the left when traveling west on Front Street. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Dodge City KS 67801, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Dodge City, full of excitement (here, next to this marker); Longhorn cattle arrive (here, next to this marker); El Capitan (a few steps from this marker); Dennis Weaver (a few steps from this marker); Charles Rath (a few steps
Image on Wild and woolly Front Street Marker image. Click for full size.
By Unknown, circa late 1800s
5. Image on Wild and woolly Front Street Marker
[Caption reads] The Dodge House was one of the best hotels in Dodge between 1872 and 1883. It featured a restaurant, bar, billiard hall, and 38 rooms.
from this marker); Milburn Stone (within shouting distance of this marker); Gene Barry (within shouting distance of this marker); "Big Nose Kate" (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line). Click for a list of all markers in Dodge City.
 
Also see . . .
1. History of Dodge City. (Submitted on May 11, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. A Cowboy in Dodge City, 1882. (Submitted on May 11, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
Categories. EntertainmentIndustry & CommerceMan-Made FeaturesSettlements & Settlers
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 1,291 times since then and 28 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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