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Dodge City is a city in and the county seat of Ford County, Kansasmarker, USAmarker. It was named after Colonel Richard Irving Dodge. The population was 25,176 at the 2000 census. The city's name is well known to generations of Americans, as the long-running old-time radio and television Western drama program Gunsmoke was set in Dodge City.



Buffalo Hunter Ralph Morrison who was killed and scalped December 7, 1868 near Fort Dodge Kansas by Cheyennes.
A Lt Reade of the 3rd Infantry and Chief of Scouts John O.
Austin in background.
Photograph by William S.
An original print and story can be found here at

The first settlement in the area that became Dodge City was Fort Mann. Built by civilians in 1847, Fort Mann was intended to provide protection for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. Fort Mann collapsed in 1848 after an Indian attack. In 1850, the U.S. Army arrived to provide protection in the region and constructed Fort Atkinson on the old Fort Mann site. The army abandoned Fort Atkinson in 1853. Military forces on the Santa Fe Trail were reestablished further north and east at Fort Larnedmarker in 1859, but the area around what would become Dodge City remained vacant until after the Civil War. In 1865, as the Indian Wars in the West began heating up, the army constructed Fort Dodge to assist Fort Larned in providing protection on the Santa Fe Trail. Fort Dodge remained in operation until 1882.

The town of Dodge City can trace its origins to 1871 when rancher Henry J. Sitler built a sod house west of Fort Dodge to oversee his cattle operations in the region. Conveniently located near the Santa Fe Trail and Arkansas Rivermarker, Sitler's house quickly became a stopping point for travelers. With the Santa Fe Railroad rapidly approaching from the east, others saw the commercial potential of the region. In 1872, just five miles (8 km) west of Fort Dodge, settlers platted out and founded the town of Dodge City. George M. Hoover established the first bar in a tent to service thirsty soldiers from Fort Dodge. The railroad arrived in September to find a town ready and waiting for business. The early settlers in Dodge City traded in buffalo bones and hides and provided a civilian community for Fort Dodge. However, with the arrival of the railroad, Dodge City soon became involved in the cattle trade.

Cattle trade


The idea of driving Texas longhorn cattle from Texas to railheads in Kansas originated in the late 1850s but was cut short by the Civil War. In 1866, the first Texas cattle started arriving in Baxter Springsmarker in southeastern Kansas by way of the Shawnee Trail. However, Texas longhorn cattle carried a tick that spread splenic fever among other breeds of cattle. Known locally as Texas Fever, alarmed Kansas farmers persuaded the Kansas State Legislature to establish a quarantine line in central Kansas. The quarantine prohibited Texas longhorns from the heavily settled, eastern portion of the state.

With the cattle trade forced west, Texas longhorns began moving north along the Chisholm Trail. In 1867, the main Cow Town was Abilene, Kansasmarker. Profits were high, and other towns quickly joined in the cattle boom. Newtonmarker in 1871; Ellsworthmarker in 1872; and Wichitamarker in 1872. However, in 1876 the Kansas State Legislature responded to pressure from farmers settling in central Kansas and once again shifted the quarantine line westward, which essentially eliminated Abilene and the other Cow Towns from the cattle trade. With no place else to go, Dodge City suddenly became Queen of the Cow Towns.

A monument to the days of the great cattle drives stands in downtown Dodge City.
A new route, known as the Great Western Cattle Trail, or Western Trail, branched off from the Chisholm Trail to lead cattle into Dodge City. Dodge City became a boomtown, with thousands of cattle passing annually through its stockyards. The peak years of the cattle trade in Dodge City were from 1883 to 1884, and during that time the town grew tremendously. In 1880, Dodge City got a new competitor for the cattle trade from the border town of Caldwellmarker. For a few years the competition between the towns was fierce, but there were enough cattle for both towns to prosper. Nevertheless, it was Dodge City that became famous, and rightly so because no town could match Dodge City's reputation as a true frontier settlement of the Old West. Dodge City had more famous (and infamous) gunfighters working at one time or another than any other town in the West, many of whom participated in the Dodge City War of 1883. It also boasted the usual array of saloons, gambling halls, and brothels established to separate a lonely cowboy from his hard-earned cash, including the famous Long Branch Saloon and China Doll brothel. For a time in 1884, Dodge City even had a bullfighting ring where Mexican bullfighters imported from Mexicomarker would put on a show with specially chosen longhorn bulls.

As more agricultural settlers moved into western Kansas, pressure on the Kansas State Legislature to do something about splenic fever increased. Consequently, in 1885 the quarantine line was extended across the state and the Western Trail was all but shut down. By 1886, the cowboys, saloon keepers, gamblers, and brothel owners moved west to greener pastures, and Dodge City became a sleepy little town much like other communities in western Kansas.


Dodge City is located at on the High Plains in southwestern Kansas. The Arkansas Rivermarker flows east through the city. Dodge City lies above the world’s largest underground water system, the Ogallala Aquifermarker, and is only from the eastern edge of the Hugoton Natural Gas Area.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.7 square miles (32.9 km²), of which 12.6 square miles (32.7 km²) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km²) (0.86%) is water.


Dodge City tops the list of windiest U.S. cities with an average speed of .


As of the census of 2000, there were 25,176 people, 8,395 households, and 5,968 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,995.8 people per square mile (770.9/km²). There were 8,976 housing units at an average density of 711.6/sq mi (274.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 71.43% White, 1.94% African American, 0.69% Native American, 2.37% Asian, 0.15% Pacific Islander, 20.82% from other races, and 2.61% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 42.87% of the population.

There were 8,395 households out of which 41.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.1% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.9% were non-families. 23.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.94 and the average family size was 3.46.

In the city the population was spread out with 31.2% under the age of 18, 12.3% from 18 to 24, 30.0% from 25 to 44, 16.5% from 45 to 64, and 10.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females there were 106.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 104.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $37,156, and the median income for a family was $41,672. Males had a median income of $26,881 versus $22,064 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,538. About 11.1% of families and 13.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.4% of those under age 18 and 9.1% of those age 65 or over.


The elementary and high school population is served by the Dodge City Public Schools district.

Dodge City Community College serves first and second year college students, and the community at large. The campus, which encompasses a lake and jogging trail, sits on in northwest Dodge City. It boasts an online student newspaper, a television station, an astronomy center with two telescopes, an electron microscope, and the third largest athletic training room in the state of Kansas. It is the only college or university in the state of Kansas operating both FM and AM radio stations. Enrollment is approximately 2,000 students each semester.


Dodge City has a minor-league basketball team, the Dodge City Legend. The Legend is a member of the United States Basketball League (USBL). The Legend have won three championship titles in the USBL.

From 1970 to 1980, the annual Boot Hill Bowl post-season college football game was played in Dodge City. The bowl was sanctioned by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and featured schools such as Washburn Universitymarker and Emporia State Universitymarker. The last game was played on November 21, 1980.

Historic landmarks

Today, Dodge City maintains part of its downtown as a tourist attraction.
Santa Fe Trail Remains (also known as Santa Fe Trail Ruts), located nine miles (14 km) west of Dodge City on US 50, is a two-mile (3 km) section of the former long Santa Fe Trail that is the "longest continuous stretch of clearly defined Santa Fe Trail rut remains in Kansas." It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1963. There are other sections of Santa Fe Trail ruts that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The 19th century buildings of historic Front Street were demolished in an "urban renewal" project in 1970.






The following radio stations are licensed to Dodge City:

Frequency Callsign Format Notes
1370 KGNOmarker Talk
1550 KDCC Variety

Frequency Callsign Format Notes
89.9 KAIGmarker Contemporary Christian Air 1
91.9 KONQmarker Variety DCCC college radio
92.9 K225AGmarker Public NPR; Translator of KANZmarker, Garden City, Kansasmarker
93.9 KZRD Active Rock
95.5 KAHEmarker Oldies
95.5 KERP Country
102.1 KODC-LP Christian


The following television stations are licensed to Dodge City:

Digital Channel Analog Channel Callsign Network Notes
29 KSAS-LPmarker Fox Translator of KSAS-TVmarker, Wichita, Kansasmarker
43 K43HN TBN
50 K50HS

Notable natives

Historical visitors and temporary residents

A number of famous names associated with the American West have either passed through Dodge City or made it a temporary residence. Some of these include:

In popular culture

  • One of the downtown streets in present-day Dodge City is called Gunsmoke Street, so named because of Dodge City's serving as the setting of the long-running television western Gunsmoke.
  • Dodge City is featured in the computer game Gun.



  • Dykstra, Robert R. The Cattle Towns. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1968. ISBN 0-8032-6561-1
  • Miner, Craig. West of Wichita: Settling the High Plains of Kansas, 1865-1890. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1988. ISBN 0-7006-0364-6
  • Vestal, Stanley. Dodge City: Queen of Cowtowns: "the Wickedest Little City in America" 1872-1886. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998. ISBN 0-8032-9617-7

External links

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