DODGE CITY BANS GUNS
Dodge City was the buffalo capital until mass slaughter destroyed the huge herds and left the prairie littered with decaying carcasses. An estimated 1,500,000 buffalo hides were shipped from Dodge in the years 1872-1878. For years farmers, during hard times, gathered the buffalo bones and sold them for six to eight dollars a ton. The bones were used in the manufacture of china and fertilizer. By 1875 the buffalo were gone as a source of revenue, but the longhorn cattle of Texas drove the dollars into town. For ten more years, over five million head of cattle were driven up the western branch of the Chisholm Trail – the Great Western Trail or Texas Trail – to Dodge City.
Law and order came riding into town with such respectable law officers as W. B. ‘Bat’ Masterson, Ed Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Bill Tilghman, H. B. ‘Ham’ Bell and Charlie Bassett. Out of these personalities evolved the famous fictional character of Gunsmokes’ Marshal Matt Dillon. The town these early men knew was laid out with two “Front Streets,” one on either side of the railroad tracks — although the name was orginally “Main Street” for the one north of the tracks.
The city passed an ordinance that guns could not be worn or carried north of the “deadline” which was the railroad tracks. The south side where “anything went” was wide open. In 1877 the population was 1,200 and nineteen businesses were licensed to sell liquor.
(Ford County Historical Society, Inc., PO Box 131, Dodge City, KS; Nancy Jo Trauer; the Kansas Heritage Center, 1000 N. 2nd Ave., Dodge City, KS; and George Laughead Jr., authors. Photographs and page: FCHS, all rights reserved. Copyright 2002-2008.)