Dodge City grew into a boomtown, with thousands of cattle passing through its stockyards each year. The peak years of the cattle trade in Dodge City were from 1883 to 1884, and the town flourished considerably during that period. After the beef trade declined, so did Dodge City's growth.
The city's history is full of examples showing that even though it is located in Kansas, it can have great seasons - or bad ones - depending on the weather or market conditions. For example, when the railroad was built to Dodge City in 1883, it came at a time when the town was growing rapidly due to its location near Fort Worth and Chicago markets. However, the first winter after the rail line was completed saw severe snowstorms that destroyed much of what had been built up thus far. This sent an early warning signal that Dodge City could be vulnerable to fluctuations in the market for agricultural products.
Another factor contributing to Dodge City's decline was its proximity to Wichita, which began operating its own slaughterhouse in 1889. Although this competition was good for the city's meat business, it also meant that people had no reason to travel to Dodge City anymore because all the slaughtering took place elsewhere.
In conclusion, one must remember that despite its name, Kansas isn't known for its bountiful crops or rich soil. The state's economy depends largely on tourism and agriculture.
Dodge City received a new competition in the cattle trade from the border town of Caldwell in 1880. For a few years, the towns competed fiercely, but there were enough cattle for both to thrive. Nonetheless, Dodge City became well-known, and no town could rival its image as a genuine Old West frontier hamlet. The last train robbery in America took place here in 1906.
Dodge City was founded in 1879 by George W. Dodge, who had come to Kansas from Wisconsin with his wife Marie (née Boucher) and three children to start a farm. When his crops failed due to drought, he decided to try his luck in the cow business, and bought some bulls near Caldwell, which at that time was still part of New Mexico. When he arrived in the area with his family later that year, he found other ranchers living nearby and began buying up land around their campsites until he owned nearly all of the area now known as Dodge City. He sold parts of his ranch to others who wanted to join him in settling the country, and soon after his arrival in Kansas he also opened a store where farmers could buy supplies. In 1880, when Caldwell started competing with Dodge City for cattle, they fought hard but eventually decided to work together rather than fight each other. Today, only memories remain of the once great city, since most buildings have been replaced or demolished since then.
Dodge City is located in Harper County, Kansas, about 70 miles south of Wichita.
As Dykstra points out, over its 10 years as a cattle trade hub, Dodge City had an average of only 1.5 killings per year; it was hardly a place rife with murderous violence. Dodge City, founded in 1872 and a cattle town for more than ten years, became a favorite of eastern journalists. They often described it as "cowboy heaven" or "the wild west of today's movie screens." These images were cultivated by politicians who wanted to attract tourists to their states, so they could promote themselves as being like the old West. The real West was actually very different - it was full of lawlessness and violence - but that's how Dodge City is usually remembered today.
There were two main types of violence in Dodge City: street violence and violence between men over women. Dodge City was not particularly famous for its homicides, which are now called "violent crimes." In fact, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Dodge City had one of the lowest rates of violent crime in America during its early years.
The city was known for its open saloons. During its first few years, there were almost no police officers in Dodge City, so people developed a reputation for being able-bodied and willing to fight. As a result, there were often knife fights in the streets at night, with no one ever arrested for them. There was also a lot of fist fighting in the saloons, with no one punished for it.