Welcome to Dodge City!
The Frontier Town of the Old West
Built by civilians in 1847 to provide protection for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail, Fort Mann was the first settlement of non-indigenous people in the area that became what we know as Dodge City. 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. 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 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 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. 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 cowtowns from the cattle trade. With no place else to go, Dodge City suddenly became the “queen of the cow towns.”
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 Caldwell. For a few years, the competition between the towns was fierce, but enough cattle were available for both towns to prosper.
Nevertheless, 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 boasted also 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. As more agricultural settlers moved into western Kansas, pressure increased on the Kansas State Legislature to do something about splenic fever, known today as anthrax. 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.
Today, Dodge City boasts its heritage as can be seen in the many historical sites, famous landmarks and museums. While you explore the rich history of the Old West be sure to stop by Casey’s Cowtown Club for some of the best food the area has to offer!
Back to Illinois 2021
The ribeye was awesome. The chicken fried steak was wonderful. We ordered twice backed potatoes which were very yummy. Love the inside of the restaurant.
Great steak dinner and fab cocktail!
My husband and I had very good steak dinners here, with both steaks delicious and rare the way we ordered them. The service was great, and the owner was so nice! He made me a great cocktail using the local Boot Hill Distillery bitters! Recommended by the concierge at our hotel, and rightfully so!
Best place to get good service even when they are busy. Good food. From breakfast burrito to steak. Fun history. Steak cook has been there 23 yrs.
Great food and service!
Wife and I stopped in for dinner on our way home to Wichita. We were sat in a timely manner, our host was attentive, the food delivered promptly, and my steak was exactly as ordered.
Very happy we stopped in… will visit again in our next trip.
Yowie mama! 😍
it was swag asf 💇 uh i’m supposed to add details so it was very fun ig. i went there not actually with eren jeager.
Excellent food and service. I had the steak and shrimp combo. Price fair for food quantity /quality.