Dodge City, Kansas
Fort Mann was the first settlement of non-indigenous people in the area that became Dodge City, built by civilians in 1847 (the territory then being part of Mexico) 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 re-established farther north and east at Fort Larned in 1859, but the area remained vacant around what would become Dodge City until the end of the Civil War. In April 1865, the Indian Wars in the West began heating up, and 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 River, and Sitler’s house quickly became a stopping point for travelers. Others saw the commercial potential of the region with the Santa Fe Railroad rapidly approaching from the east. In 1872, Dodge City was staked out on the 100th meridian and the legal western boundary of the Fort Dodge reservation. The town site was platted and George M. Hoover established the first bar in a tent to serve 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.
The idea of driving Texas Longhorn cattle from Texas to rail-heads 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 Springs in southeastern Kansas by way of the Shawnee Trail. However, Texas Longhorn cattle carried a tick that spread Texas cattle fever, among other breeds of cattle. 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, Kansas. Profits were high, and other towns quickly joined in the cattle boom: Newton in 1871, Ellsworth in 1872, and Wichita 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 the “queen of the cow towns”.
Dodge City became famous, and no town could match its 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, 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 would put on a show with specially chosen Longhorn bulls.
Below is a list of businesses that were in existence in Dodge City, Kansas back in the 1870’s.
- G.M. Hoover Wholesale Liquor.
- Karen’s Restaurant
- 2 Grocery/General Merchandise stores
- Barber Shop
- Dance Hall
- Charles Roth’s General Store
- Chalk Beeson’s Long Branch Saloon
- Frederick Zimmermann’s Gun and Hardware
- John Mueller’s Boot shop
- Great Western Hotel
- Drovers Cottage
- China Doll Brothel
- Saratoga Saloon
- The Hardesty House
1860 Colt Army Revolver
The 1860 Colt Army was the primary revolver used by federal troops during the Civil War with about 200,500 produced from 1860 through 1873. Whether in cap and ball or converted to metallic cartridge, this .44 six gun saw much use west of the Mississippi. As the successor to the big Dragoons, this sleek and handsome hog-leg packed plenty of power but was easier to handle. Colt’s ’60 was used by the U.S. Cavalry, the Texas Rangers and General Ben McCulloch’s Texas Confederates, Wells Fargo detective James Hume, Mormon “Avenging Angel” Porter Rockwell, El Paso City Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire, the James brothers, Wes Hardin, Sam Bass and scores of good and bad men alike.
Larned was laid out in 1873. The first post office was established at Larned in 1872.
The city drew its name from nearby Fort Larned, which operated from 1859 to 1878, and named for Colonel Benjamin F. Larned, U.S. Army Paymaster from July 1854 to his death September 6, 1862.
Larned, Kansas and the fort that was constructed there are named in honor of Colonel Benjamin F. Larned, the paymaster general of the United States Army at the time the post was established. Larned experienced a lengthy military career, first serving as an ensign in the 21st Infantry during the War of 1812. He was promoted to captain after the defense of Fort Erie, and by 1854 Larned was a colonel and had been appointed paymaster general. Despite the town and fort bearing his name, Colonel Larned never came to Kansas.
Fort Larned, Kansas.
As the American government claimed vast amounts of land west of the Mississippi River, trade and commerce with the territories grew exponentially. According to one source in 1859, trade had risen $10,000,000 annually. In the Missouri Republican, it was reported that 2,300 men, 1970 wagons, 840 horses, 4,000 mules, 15,000 oxen, 73 carriages, and over 1,900 tons of freight left Missouri for New Mexico. It became apparent an additional fortification was required to protect the trade routes. Fort Larned’s location was chosen by William Bent, an agent for the Upper Arkansas Indians. Bent stated, “I consider it essential to have two permanent stations for troops, one at the mouth of Pawnee Fork, and one at Big Timbers, both upon the Arkansas River….To control them (the Indians), it is essential to have among them the perpetual presence of a controlling military force.”
The fort’s original structures were poorly constructed and inadequate. Built of adobe bricks, Fort Larned consisted of an officer’s quarters, two combination storehouses and barracks, a guardhouse, two laundresses’ quarters, and a hospital, with a bakery and meat house being later additions. After its establishment, nearby Plains Indians began to respect the trail commerce. In August, 1861, Colonel Leavenworth, reporting from Fort Larned, stated the Indians had left the Santa Fe trail area and there was no apprehension of any hostilities.
Renovations to Fort Larned took place between 1866 and 1868. The original sod and adobe structures were removed and replaced with the sandstone buildings that make up the fort today. By 1871, no escorts were required for the wagon trains traveling on the Santa Fe Trail, eliminating the need for military presence in the region. The post was abandoned on July 13, 1878, and on March 26, 1883, the Fort Larned Military Reservation was transferred from the War Department to the General Land Office of the Department of the Interior.
Kansas State Penitentiary, Lansing, Kansas
The facility was originally known as the Kansas State Penitentiary (KSP) and was built by prison labor in the 1860s. The name was changed to Lansing Correctional Facility in 1990. Construction of the cell houses was completed in 1867. The facility began housing Kansas inmates felons in July 1868 and housed felons from Oklahoma from 1889-1909.
The prison stopped admitting prisoners temporarily in the spring of 1896 and January 1900 as a result of the spread of smallpox in Kansas.
The Nez Perce Horse
After the end of the Nez Perce War in the 1870s, many of the horses belonging to the Nez Perce were confiscated by the U.S. Army and sold off or killed. The Nez Perce people that survived the war were forced to settle in reservations and coerced to become farmers rather than horse breeders. They were allowed to keep few horses, and were forced by the authorities to mate their stallions with Quarter Horse mares to create horses deemed more suitable for agriculture.
The Nez Perce Horse is a spotted horse breed derived from old-line Appaloosa (the Wallowa herd) and Central-Asians horse belonging to the Akhal-Teke breed.
The formal registry for these horses is the Nez Perce Horse Registry (NPHR).The only Museum honoring this beautiful horse is located in Moscow, Idaho at the Idaho, Washington state line. It is the only museum in the United States for the Appaloosa.
A typical Nez Perce horse is buckskin or palomino, with Appaloosa characteristic such as mottled skin and a blanket and/or spotting. Compared to the Quarter Horses that were bred into the Appaloosa breed from the 1870s and onward, the Nez Perce is a longer and leaner horse, with a longer back and more narrow shoulders. All in all, it is often described as looking like a “lean runner”.
The Nez Perce horse is a good long-distance horse, and many Nez Perce horse have performed admirably in endurance races. The Nez Perce horses are often gaited, with a fast and smooth running walk that makes them comfortable to ride. Quite a few of the Nez Perce horses are also good jumpers.
Rock Fence-post of Kansas
The Fence-post limestone is a relatively thin, resistant, and recognizable bed of stone that forms the middle range of bluffs in the Smoky Hills region of north-central Kansas, ranging from the Nebraska border near Mahaska, Kansas, about 200 miles southwest to within a few miles of Dodge City, Kansas,where it is seen in the buildings of the farms and cities of the area.
The Fence-post limestone is unique for its contribution to the cultural landscape of Kansas, appearing as miles of stone fence posts lining austere fields and pastures. The drier climate coupled with the grazing habits of buffalo, and the prairie burning practices of Plains Indians, meant that the first European settlers to the region did not have enough local timber for construction and fencing. However, a suitable, easy to quarry stone was available. No other “area of the world has used a single rock formation so extensively for fencing.”
The source of this tough chalky limestone is the widespread and persistent topmost bed of the Greenhorn Limestone. The Fence post limestone is the exceptionally wide ranging marker of the conformal contact between the Pfeifer Shale, which is the uppermost member Greenhorn Limestone below, and the Fairport Chalk, the lowest member of the Carlile Shale formation above.
When Europeans settled in north-central Kansas, they found vast grasslands. With few trees available, they quarried a thin, shallow bed of Cretaceous limestone for buildings, bridges, and fence-posts. No area of the world has used a single rock formation so extensively for fencing. Today that rock layer is called Fence-post limestone and north-central Kansas is known as the Land of the Post Rock.
On the early open ranges of the Kansas frontier, typically, the burden was on the farmers to protect their crops from free-range and driven cattle.
Common practice of earlier frontier farmers in the East and on the Old Northwest Territory, was to use the timber cleared from the new fields for split-rail fencing. But, at the time of American settlement, Kansas was largely treeless. Owing to the intensive grazing of millions of buffalo, as well as to the particular land management of the 19th century Plains Indians, the small amount of timber that was available was confined to river banks.
In eastern Kansas, abundant, large, flinty stones could be collected from the hills and fields to build long stone walls. However, in several counties in central Kansas, where most of the rock was soft shale or chalk, a practical alternative was available; one particular bed of stone had ideal properties to substitute for wood fence-posts. Forming the posts required some labor and the posts are heavy – 250–450 pounds – but, with the recent invention of barbed wire, only one post was needed every 30 feet or so.
The relative ease of forming durable stone posts from Fence-post limestone is not to be neglected in the context of a treeless frontier farming economy. The bed is not deeply buried, requiring relatively little effort to uncover. Fresh exposed slabs are soft and easy to work; the stone hardens only after removal from the shale and drying out in the open air. Curiously, the natural bed is not jointed; so several long rows of complete posts or large slabs can be split off of a large exposed sheet of limestone without breaking. No heavy equipment is required, and community blacksmiths could easily make serviceable tool sets.
Lines of the oldest Stone Posts have stood in place for well over a hundred years. But in the 1920s, rural labor costs had increased to the point that stone posts could no longer be made and installed as cheaply as mass-produced steel and treated wood post. As stone post fences are removed or are replaced with steel or wood post fences, the stone posts are usually collected for reuse, often in landscaping, but, because of their greater weight and strength, they are also used as corner posts in new fences.
Travel by Train in 1876
Five days after the transcontinental railroad was completed, daily passenger service over the rails began. The speed and comfort offered by rail travel was so astonishing that many Americans could scarcely believe it, and popular magazines wrote glowing accounts of the amazing journey. For the wealthy, a trip on the transcontinental railroad was a luxurious experience. First-class passengers rode in beautifully appointed cars with plush velvet seats that converted into snug sleeping berths. The finer amenities included steam heat, fresh linen daily, and gracious porters who catered to their every whim. For an extra $4 a day, the wealthy traveler could opt to take the weekly Pacific Hotel Express, which offered first-class dining on board. As one happy passenger wrote, “The rarest and richest of all my journeying through life is this three-thousand miles by rail.”
The trip was a good deal less speedy and comfortable for passengers unwilling or unable to pay the premium fares. Whereas most of the first-class passengers traveled the transcontinental line for business or pleasure, the third-class occupants were often emigrants hoping to make a new start in the West. A third-class ticket could be purchased for only $40–less than half the price of the first-class fare. At this low rate, the traveler received no luxuries. Their cars, fitted with rows of narrow wooden benches, were congested, noisy, and uncomfortable. The railroad often attached the coach cars to freight cars that were constantly shunted aside to make way for the express trains. Consequently, the third-class traveler’s journey west might take 10 or more days. Even under these trying conditions, few travelers complained. Even 10 days spent sitting on a hard bench seat was preferable to six months walking alongside a Conestoga wagon on the Oregon Trail.
Transcontinental Railroad Fact Sheet
- Prior to the opening of the transcontinental railroad, it took four to six months to travel 2000 miles from the Missouri River to California by wagon.
- January 1863 – Central Pacific Railroad breaks ground on its portion of the railroad at Sacramento, California; the first rail is laid in October 1863.
- December 1863 – Union Pacific Railroad breaks ground on its portion of the railroad in Omaha, Nebraska; due to the Civil War, the first rail is not laid until July 1865.
- April 1868 – the Union Pacific reaches its highest altitude 8,242 feet above sea level at Sherman Pass, Wyoming.
- April 28, 1869 – a record of 10 miles of track were laid in a single day by the Central Pacific crews.
- May 10, 1869 – the last rail is laid in the Golden Spike Ceremony at Promontory Point, Utah.
- Total miles of track laid 1,776: 690 miles by the Central Pacific and 1086 by the Union Pacific.
- The Central Pacific Railroad blasted a total of 15 tunnels through the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
- It took Chinese workers on the Central Pacific fifteen months to drill and blast through 1,659 ft of rock to complete the Summit Tunnel at Donner Pass in Sierra Nevada Mountains. Summit Tunnel is the highest point on the Central Pacific track.
- The Central Pacific built 40 miles of snow sheds to keep blizzards from blocking the tracks.
- To meet their manpower needs, both railroads employed immigrants to lay the track and blast the tunnels.
- The Central Pacific hired more than 13,000 Chinese laborers and Union Pacific employed 8,000 Irish, German, and Italian laborers.
- In 1870 it took approximately seven days and cost as little as $65 for a ticket on the transcontinental line from New York to San Francisco; $136 for first class in a Pullman sleeping car; $110 for second class; and $65 for a space on a third- or “emigrant”-class bench.