Cowboy Country

 Posted by at 4:52 am  Nick's Blog
May 162009
 

We spent yesterday exploring cowboy country. Back in the years following the Civil War, western Kansas was the Wild West, and it was here that some of the best known characters of the time made names for themselves.

Meade, Kansas, where we are staying at the city park’s free “Tourist Camp” is the home of the Dalton Gang Hideout, complete with an escape tunnel that led from the outlaw gang’s sister’s house to a barn down the hill. ┬áMarc Ferguson, manager of the Hideout, had invited us to come by and check it out.

Marc is a great storyteller, and he gave us a brief history of the Dalton brothers and their fall from grace, starting out as Deputy U.S. Marshal’s and ending up shot down in the streets of Coffeyville, Kansas in a bank robbery gone bad.

We were impressed with the tunnel, and displays in the neat little museum upstairs of the gift shop, which included everything from old guns and barbed wire to a stuffed two-headed calf.

We left the bus in Meade and drove the van about 40 miles to Dodge City, which was known as the Queen of the Cow Towns and one of the wickedest towns on earth. It was here that cattle drives from Texas reached trail’s end, and an army of saloon keepers, card sharks, shady ladies, and outlaws waited to separate the hardworking Texas cowboys from their pay.

Killings were routine business in old Dodge City, and it took hard lawmen like Bill Tilghman, Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson to bring peace. Plenty of outlaws and wild cowboys found their final resting place at Boot Hill, and the legends have only grown over the years.

Today Dodge City is a friendly town of some 25,000 people, and still makes its living off the cattle industry. Two large meat packing plants are the main employers, though tourism plays an important role in the local economy.

Jan Stevens, director of the Dodge City Convention and Visitors Bureau, met us and took us to lunch, while she gave us a very good overview of the town’s history and how things are today. We deal with a lot of public relations and media representatives in our work, and I have to tell you, if they were all half as good as Jan, we’d have an easy job. She spent a long time with us, answered all of our questions, gave us a ton of excellent reference material, and then arranged a tour of Boot Hill and the re-created Front Street, once the centerpiece of the wild cow town.

Jan also arranged for local historian Charlie Meade to give us a walking tour of Dodge City, which included all of the historically important places, as well as this neat statue of Wyatt Earp.

Charlie is a real treasure, and it was wonderful to spend the afternoon with him. A retired Deputy Marshal, and recently appointed as a Special Deputy United States Marshal, at 74 years young, Charlie is a walking encyclopedia of Old West history and lore.

We were great friends by the end of our time together, and Miss Terry posed for a picture with our new pal. Charlie was only too happy to do so, saying he never passes up an opportunity to get close to a pretty lady. I can’t say that I blame him.

Thought For The Day – I suffer occasional delusions of adequacy.

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  8 Responses to “Cowboy Country”

  1. Wow! You two look like you had a lot of fun yesterday! I’ll bet Charlie is a real character. I’ll look forward to stories about your adventures in an upcoming Gypsy Journal issue.

  2. Great blog, Nick. Thank you. Dodge City will be on our places we “must see” when we get the heck out of Dodge in September to start our full time life on the road. Hurry up, CG.

  3. Glad you enjoyed that part of Kansas. Just south of Dodge City about 15 miles is Englewood, KS. It’s a real small town, probably on it’s last breath, but the people left there are very friendly. There is an Escapees Boondockers gathering there the first few weeks of October every year. We park for free in the city park and join the residents for activities at the Senior center. They always have a community pot luck and music jam which we join as well.

    While you were touring the Saloon, did you happen to notice the photograph of Jess Taylor, honorary sheriff of Dodge City? He is my grandad:-)

    Enjoy Kansas!! It is one of our favorite places:-)

  4. We love hearing about and visiting Kansas! We live in Ohio and so many of our friends say, “You like to go to Kansas??? Why?” Little do they know! Kansas has so many interesting places to visit. Dodge City has been one of our favorites. It is right on the California Trail. If you follow the CA Trail or the Santa Fe Trail you’ll find lots of “off the beaten track” places in Kansas and meet some of the friendliest people. It’s like a treasure hunt — look for all the markers! We love traveling over the Flint Hills, too. Have fun in Kansas!

  5. We visited Dodge City last spring as we were on our way to Son Scotts place in Lincoln, NE. I did a Blog on it at the time. It was very enjoyable,,,did you check your guns before entering?:-)

    Its fun to visualize what it would have been like back in those day’s. It would have been hard for me to stay alive, someone would have shot me!

    Travel Safe

    Mike & Ms Pat

  6. Nick, I just got my renewal notice, but there is no provision for requesting an online subscription as opposed to a physical paper.

    Are they the same price? If so, does a paper subscription include .pdf access also? Or do we have to choose just one format?

    In either case, please sign me up for online access! Let me know how to pay you. Thanks!

    Susan Wilson

  7. Susan,
    It’s the same price either way, but you only get one or the other, printed or digital. You can subscribe or renew the printed version online at http://www.gypsyjournal.net/Subscribe.htm

    and for the digital version click http://www.gypsyjournal.net/Subscribe%20Digital%20Edition.htm

  8. Nick, I stopped at the same place yesterday and have found where my credit card has been charge for the amount 7 times. I’ll be contacting the issuing bank on Monday to get mine corrected also.

    Ray Mc

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