Boot Hill Museum/Historic Dodge City
Cowboys on the cattle trail near Dodge City. Photo courtesy Boot Hill Museum
A bronze statue of Wyatt Earp welcomes visitors to Dodge City. Photo courtesy Boot Hill Museum
Keno Game used in the original Long Branch Saloon. Photo courtesy Boot Hill Museum
History comes alive when cowboys on the Boot Hill boardwalk greet summer visitors. Photo courtesy Boot Hill Museum
Longhorn chair belonging to Chaukley Beeson and exhibited at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. Now on display at the Boot Hill Museum. Photo courtesy Boot Hill Museum
500 Front Street, Dodge City, KS 67801
[map this location]
Boot Hill Museum and Historic Dodge City are one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas History because the Santa Fe Trail, buffalo traders, cattle drives, and lawmen made the city famous then -- and now.
In the 1870s and 1880s, Dodge City was known as the "wildest, wickedest and woolliest" of the cowtowns as well as the "Queen of the Cowtowns". Today, the Boot Hill Museum, located on the original site of the Boot Hill Cemetery, provides visitors with a trip of nostalgia that takes you back to when Dodge City was the center for the buffalo hunters and a major shipping point for the millions of Texas longhorn cattle that came up the well known Western Cattle Trail and other famous trails.
The original Front Street and recreation at Boot Hill Museum. Photo courtesy Boot Hill Museum
From 1872-1874, an estimated 850,000 buffalo hides were shipped from Dodge City. By 1875, the buffalo were gone but the Longhorn cattle of Texas soon took their place. From 1875 to 1886, over 5,000,000 cattle were driven up the Western Trail from Texas to Dodge City and shipped on the railroad.
Boot Hill Museum can trace its roots back to the 1920s when a local doctor created a cemetery setting on the original Boot Hill Cemetery site for a Rotary Convention. From that illustrious beginning, the Jaycees, in 1947, established the first Boot Hill Museum building. In 1958, the first buildings of the Front Street Replica were built. As the original Front Street buildings had been destroyed by fire in 1885, this would give visitors an opportunity to walk on the boardwalk and to relive Dodge City of that era. As the Museum and Front Street grew, the famous Long Branch Variety show was created in 1957 to entertain visitors and is one of the longest running seasonal variety shows in the nation.
The significant artifact collection at Boot Hill Museum gives a detailed and personal description of those early day families and how they lived during the 1870s through the turn of the century. Most of the artifacts were collected by the Beeson family, one of the pioneer families, who had their own private museum for many years and Boot Hill Museum acquired this collection when the Beeson Museum closed in the 1960s. The informative exhibits cover the periods of the Native Americans of this area, the Santa Fe Trail and Fort Dodge, the AT&SF Railroad, the buffalo hunters, the cowboys, along with a "Gunsmoke" exhibit to articulate the significance this long running television program with Matt Dillon and Miss Kitty. Many of the Front Street Replica buildings from the General Store to the Alhambra Saloon, were renovated in the 1980s to provide visitors with a more accurate look at what the cowboys saw when they came to Dodge City in the 1870s and 1880s. Another popular exhibit updated in 2002 is the extensive gun collection featuring guns owned by Bat Masterson, Bill Tighlman, and Ben Thompson as well as weapons used by the buffalo hunters. The "People of the Plains" received a major renovation in 2004.
Actors from the long running TV series, "Gunsmoke" appear at an event in Dodge City. Photo courtesy Boot Hill Museum
A church representing the Union Church, the first church in Dodge City, is the newest exhibit and provides an interesting history regarding the development and structures of the churches of that period.
Boot Hill Museum also owns and maintains a handicapped accessible site, interpreted by the National Park Service, featuring Santa Fe Trail ruts, nine miles west of Dodge City on U.S. 50/56 near Howell. This site provides visitors with an excellent view of some very best preserved trail ruts of the historic Santa Fe Trail.
Boot Hill Museum is a private 501(c)3 charitable organization.
Open Memorial Day to Labor Day daily 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Rest of year Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday 1-5 p.m.
Admission charge: Adults $10; children 5-10 $8. More information on pricing.
Clothing worn by Dodge City residents. George Hoover's cigar and wholesale liquor store was located next door to the Long Branch Saloon. Rifle belonging to infamous gunman and lawman, Ben Thompson.
OTHER ATTRACTIONS THAT TELL ABOUT THIS TIME PERIOD
VISITOR INFORMATION CENTER, 400 W. Wyatt Earp Blvd.
Pick up your walking and/or driving tour of historic sites in Dodge City. Open June-August daily 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; September-May Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.- 5 p.m.
DODGE CITY TRAIL OF FAME & WYATT EARP STATUE, W. Wyatt Earp.
An eight-foot bronze sculpture of the famous Dodge City Lawman is the center piece of the Trail of Fame. The trail is marked by several medallions.
EL CAPITAN, Second and W. Wyatt Earp.
Photo courtesy Boot Hill Museum
A bronze statue by Jasper D'Ambrosi commemorates the 1870s/1880s Texas cattle drives to Dodge City.
HISTORIC TROLLEY TOURS, Third & W. Wyatt Earp.
Visit places where history was made at Fort Dodge, the Home of Stone, other old west locations and cattle stockyards on an hour-long narrated historic site tour. Daily tours Memorial Weekend through mid-August. Admission charge. More information.
FORT DODGE, E. Hwy. U.S. 154/400.
The Fort, located 5 miles east of Dodge City on U.S. 154/400, served as a supply depot and base of operation against warring Indians from 1865-1882. It is now a Kansas Soldiers Home. Museum open daily 1-4 p.m. Self-guided walking tour signs on grounds. More information.
LONGHORN PARK, 1 mile east of Dodge City on U.S. 50/56 at airport entrance.
The park features a small herd of longhorn cattle commemorating Dodge City's role in the cattle drives.