Only open June-August and hours are 9-5 Mon-Sat and 2-4 Sunday. The home is from 1881, and when built on the hill was one of the most elegant around. It then had a commanding view of the valley below because no other houses existed to obscure the view. The facade is all limestone, which came from the south about 50-100 miles of Dodge. John Mueller settled here in 1875 to establish his boot shop, and later invested in saloons and cattle. Well that gave him a stake of wealth. He lost all his cattle in a winter storm in 1886, and lost his wealth so began again back to boot making. They were forced to sell the home. In 1890 the Schmidt family bought the home. The heirs lived here until 1960, and then turned the home over to the city for preservation.
This museum is no doubt the one and only real site to tour during the visit to Dodge City. The rest on the tour circuit is mediocre at best. The city constructed in 1975 a building of a replicated store fronts for a full block along Front Street. They took the original look from pictures back in the 1880'-90's. One home at the end was picked up and relocated to this spot to save it from demolition. It is called the Hardest House, and is from 1879. Most of the interior is from that era and very nice presentation of depicting the time back then. The inside of all these stores shows how life was like in the era of the late 1800's. They have a food goods store, sewing shop, printing shop, saloons, grocery, boot shop, and much more. Each store is really interesting to see how it was like in those days. The rest shows weapons used in the time and the tough type cowboy history. You are able to walk through the buildings inside to see the lifestyle as it used to be then, as well as view the antiques and artifacts-20,000 of them. It is a fabulous museum.
It is still used for trips in and out of town daily by Amtrak. This depot and the whole strip for a few blocks at one time were busy in commerce and shipping of goods to the east, back in the 1880's. Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe RR came through here in 1872, one year after Dodge was founded. It then carried many cattle and hides back to the east for slaughter and processing of leather hides. Also buffalo hides came through here by the millions in 1880's. The purpose was to use the line to serve the southwest area down to Santa Fe, but it never made it do to tough terrain to get there that inhibited construction. The railroad did run until 1996 when it was purchased by Burlington Northern RR. The depot dates back from 1896, and is now closed unless there is an event or the Amtrak opens for town hours daily. Close by is one other building now Central Station restaurant. It did have a Fred Harvey restaurant until around 1970's when the last were closed up. Only the Central Station restaurant in that old spot is now open. Most of the rest of the structures along the rail have been torn down.
This monument was built with donations from locals. It is on Hwy 400 about 6 miles east of town. The cross is 38 feet tall, and was a place where Fransisco Coronado is said to have crossed the Arkansas River in 1541. That is now a small water tributary and disappointing. I am not sure what the hub bub is all about but you can walk up to the cross and see the hill sites. The locals seemed to want to memorialize this site and in 1974 raised the funds to erect the cross. It seems to be neglected in recent years and the foliage overgrown. The picnic tables and shelter area are in disrepair and the path to the cross close up is a weedy path.
This church started in 1897 and is now a large complex with church, school and other facilities that Catholics would have. The inside is worth a view. I talked to the priest and they now have 10,000 members and seating for 1,500. The inside is not elaborate by European standards, but is a place for many local Catholics and relocated Mexican families to worship
The town is centered around the shipping of cattle to this place and slaughter. Around 10,000-12,000 are slaughtered (dressed)daily. That means they bring that amount into town form the Midwest area daily by 500-700 trucks. They use all the parts for some type of resale; like longhorn steer horns for public display or feed food for animals. Leather is another byproduct that is a big industry here. The lots and pens are to the east of town about 1-2 miles. The workers are 90% immigrants, because US people do not like the hard work and the fatigue and the smell. I estimate that 2,000+ workers here at minimum. The town has 50% immigrants of the 25,000 total.
This unique village was once a military post to protect settlers coming west, named after Gen Dodge. They first built the fort in 1865, but no wood was in the area, so the quarters and officer areas were made of sod. Later wood was shipped west and in 186675 they began construction of the current buildings form wood and limestone structures. In 1882 the fort was abandoned, and it laid in waste for a while, until it became an old soldiers' home in 1890 and continues today. There are about 20 homes and also barracks for occupancy and 210 vets live here today (6 vacancies now). Sutler Store was a drop off point for settlers and soldiers for goods and whiskey. It is now a cafe open in the summer months. They had 43,000 acres at one time, and now still have some land and a cemetery for vets from long ago. A great little museum has a power packed history inside and many books from the Civil War era. Take a trip; it is open 10-5 Tues-SAt and is free with donation
This drive in theater is virtually untouched since the fifties! $12 gets in a carload no matter if it's two people or eight! Also, every night fri, sat and sun, they show recent releases and always double features. shows start at about 9pm. Bring your lawn chairs, your beach blankets and enjoy the show! While you're in the snack bar, take a peek into the projection booth at the vintage projectors! Warning, the bathrooms have not been updated either. You might also want to avoid nights that are also racing nights, as the nearby racetrack noise is distracting.
This body of water on the campus of Dodge City Community College is a nice natural retreat from the city. There is also a great dirt walking path of a mile that takes you past the small lake and through quite a bit of natural grasslands. The prairie dogs will bark/cheer you along your path!
For a small town of 30,000, we have a small but very nice free city zoo. It's a great place to take the kids as it is in Wright Park, located south on 2nd Ave. There is a walk through aviary, goats to pet and new lemurs as well as a few native animals and larger cats. It's also a great place to spend some time outdoors for anyone.
We have a beautiful old Carnegie Library that is now currently the home of our thriving Arts Council. It is open M-S noon to five. A always current art exhibition is accompanied by a sales gallery that features work from area artists.
Dodge City plays heavily on its 'Wild West' reputation and has many museums and attractions to keep you busy, like the Boot Hill museum with its Front Street reconstruction and the Gunfighter Wax Museum.
Though the false-fronted buildings are fake Dodge does have many truly historical buildings, like the pioneer 'Home of Stone' museum built in 1881. Take a 'trolley tour' for a guided drive around the sites in season or pick up an audio walking tour headset.
Dodge is not far from other Santa Fe landmarks like Pawnee Rock and Fort Larned (photo). Soldiers based here carved their names into the stone walls.
In Boot Hill, there is a wonderful recreation of the old Dodge City. Every building in Old Dodge City is built to look like those of the Wild West, and they really do look authentic! You can enter the buildings to get a glimpse of the past, since everything also functions as a museum! During the summertime, there are reinactments of gun fights between "good guys" and "bad guys". Actually, it's interactive, because one of the visitors is chosen to be the "good guy". Whoever is chosen is instructed on what to do before the reinactment begins. It is great to witness for those that are not chosen! Many other shows are performed year-round. They also offer carriage rides! Boot Hill is a great way to experience the Wild Wild West!
For information about admission prices, activities, etc. please go to the website I've listed below.
I think anyone who travels to Kansas should make plans to go to the rodeo, if possible. The Dodge City Rodeo is an authentic American rodeo. The bulls, the cattle roping, the clowns; All of these are featured here. The rodeo a truly exciting and interesting opportunity, that very few cities have today. In my opinion, it's a lot more fun than going to a circus. Also, after the rodeo, they shoot off fireworks! The Dodge City rodeo is two shows in one, and both the rodeo and the fireworks are wonderful! Going to the rodeo is a great way to experience something uniquely American!
For prices, dates, and other information go the website I've listed below.
Boot Hill is the main attraction for Dodge City. It is a recreation of how cow town Dodge City would have looked back in it's heyday. There are shops you can stroll around in and things to look at and by.
Here is a brief history I found on Dodge City from the web site listed below:
Dodge City is located 150 miles west of Wichita in Southwest Kansas. This historic community of 21,129 is the seat of Ford county. Dodge City is famous for its rich history as a frontier cowtown.
In 1871 H.L. Sitler constructed a sod house 5 miles west of Fort Dodge on the Santa Fe Trail. Within one year this site grew into a town with a general store, 3 dance halls, and 6 saloons. Many of the early settlers of Dodge City were gamblers, gunslingers, and cattlemen. The Santa Fe Railroad reached Dodge City in 1872. Texas cattle drovers began to use a shortcut from the Chisholm Trail to Dodge City called the Texas Trail. Thousands of longhorn cattle were driven over the Texas Trail into Dodge City for loading on the railroad. With these cattle came cowboys, gamblers, buffalo hunters, and soldiers. Dodge City became a rowdy town famous for its saloons, outlaws, and Boot Hill Cemetery. Bat Masterson, and Wyatt Earp earned their fame as lawmen during this time.
Today Dodge City is a growing community, and a popular tourist destination. The authentic replica of Front Street with the Long Branch Saloon, and Boot Hill Cemetery are places to see while in town. The city is also home to Dodge City Community College. Dodge City is a marketing center for livestock, wheat, and sorghums. Manufacturing includes metal products, machinery, farm implements, canvas goods, processed foods, and furniture.