People of the Plains Building
The people of the Plains exhibit gallery is located in the original Boot Hill Museum Building. It was built in 1947. The building was completely renovated in 2004. Here you will learn about the people that have inhabited the area.
The exhibit includes a large collection of arrowheads and tools, many photos of Chiefs, women at work, and herds of horses and buffalo.
There are also many beaded items such as clothing, moccasins and a peace pipe. Experience the beauty, the sounds, and awe of the nomadic tribes of the Great Plains.
Army and Railroad
The Army founded many forts along the Santa Fe Trail to protect travelers and traders traveling between Santa Fe New Mexico and Independence Missouri. Three forts were founded here, Fort Dodge being the biggest, and longest lasting. Learn about life on these Military posts. The Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe railroad arrived in Dodge City in 1872, bringing with it MANY modern conveniences and luxuries like tropical fruits. See the incredible impact the railroad had on the development of the area.
Buffalo Hunters and American Bison
This exhibit, is dedicated to the American Bison, commonly called the buffalo. It contains numerous items made from actual buffalo, such as coats, gloves, bone china, toothbrushes, buttons, and many others. Amid the experience of sight, sound and touch, stands a 2,000 pound buffal. While you watch and listen to the story of the buffalo, under your feet you feel the rumble of the great herds as they move across the screen. The buffalo hunter and the Native American give different perspectives on the buffalo hunts. While an exciting and lucrative time for the hunter, it was devastating for the Indian. This exciting, multi-faceted exhibit will be enjoyed by all!
Cattle Drives and Cowboys
Learn of the cowboys and their Longhorns as they traveled up the trail from southern Texas to Dodge City. These trips often lasted 100 days, many of the cowhands were only in their teens and 20s, spending up to 16 hours a day in the saddle. Here you will see many items used by the cowboys, including a chuck wagon, saddles, boots, and branding irons.
Farming and Homesteading
When the cattle drives ended due to quarantine laws which banned the movement of Texas longhorns, and devastating blizzards, Dodge City began a new chapter, farming. It was found that the flat land was perfect for growing hard red winter wheat, which was introduced to the area by the Volga German immigrants. Wheat is just one of the many cash crops now grown in the area. Included in the displays are an original horse drawn plow used for tilling the hard prairie ground, as well as a horse drawn sod cutter. The sod cutter was used to cut sod bricks for building houses on the treeless prairie. You will also see models of many of the machines used to plant, care for and harvest the crops grown here.
Dodge City’s Impact on Hollywood
Hollywood’s passion with Dodge City began in 1939 with Warner Brothers Technicolor movie titled ‘Dodge City,’ it starred Errol Flynn, Olivia De Haviland, Ann Sheridan, and MANY other major stars of the era. The movie premier was held in Dodge City, and was the first major motion picture to premiere outside of Hollywood.
In 1952 CBS radio premiered a western drama called GUNSMOKE it ran until 1961. The show was adapted to television in 1955 and ran for a record 20 seasons. See pictures and memorabilia from these programs.
There are dresses made of every type of fabric and color. Trimmed with lace, buttons and fur, the dresses, are all made by hand. Displayed with the clothing are golf clubs, ice skates, billiard balls, croquet, and many other accessories. Also see wedding clothes, evening wear, and a dresser surrounded by underclothing, corsets, jewelry, perfume bottles and many other items.
The first section of the Front Street Replica was built in 1958. It was completed in the 1960’s. These buildings are a scale replica of Dodge City’s famous Front Street buildings in the 1870’s. They are FILLED with informative exhibits and displays.
Charles Rath General Store
The Rath General Store transports you back in time for a unique shopping experience with a large variety of merchandise reminiscent of general stores in early Dodge City. It offers replica items such as prairie bonnets, long handled underwear, canned goods, hats, walking sticks, Dutch ovens, nostalgic candy and fresh cream and butter fudge. The General Store is located inside the museum complex and is open all year long.The original General Store was operated by Charles Rath, Robert Wright and A.J. Anthony in 1872. It was one of Dodge City’s first businesses. Early customers were primarily buffalo hunters that brought hides to Rath General Store in exchange for cash or goods. People could also purchase items from the store with money. The store was called a “general” store because it was generalized – they sold a wide variety of goods. They sold clothing, food, school supplies, candy, kitchenware, dining ware, farm equipment and hunting supplies among other things. Early Dodge City had a law against the carrying of firearms. People coming into to town would drop of their weapons at Rath General Store when they arrived and pick them up on their way out of Dodge. This was good for business because it gave people at least two opportunities to shop in the store.
Long Branch Saloon
Walking through the doors of the Long Branch Saloon is like walking into the past. Purchased by Chalkley Beeson and William Harris in 1878, it became the most popular, refined meeting place of cattlemen. Today, the stage in the Long Branch is filled nightly, during the summer, with The Long Branch Variety Show performers. There are singers and dancers, and the stars of the show, Chalkley Beeson and Miss Kitty. The character Miss Kitty comes from our more recent history when Gunsmoke played for over 20 years on television. The character of Miss Kitty was loosely based on the Dodge City entertainer Dora Hand. The Long Branch Saloon served milk, tea, lemonade, sarsaparilla, all types of alcohol including champagne, and of course, beer. Anheuser was the original beer served in the Long Branch. Everything was kept cold from ice that came from the river that was stored in stone ice houses. In the summer ice was also shipped in on the train from the mountains in Colorado.
Today you can still “belly up to the bar” and order an ice cold Budweiser beer or a sarsaparilla bottled for the museum with our own label. Coors and other drinks are also available.
The center exhibit hall of the Front Street replica is known as the Beeson Gallery, named for the Beeson Family who collected many of the items on display. Here, you will learn of the commercial life in Dodge City, from services like the barber and banker, to retail, hardware, boots, guns, and undertaker supplies, and saloon entertainment. Also included in the gallery is a working print shop were, in the summer time, you can see demonstrations on how newspapers were printed in the 1870’s.
Guns that Won the West
The exhibit, located in the Beeson Gallery, includes over 200 rare and historic firearms and other items used in Dodge City. Displays include: Winchester and Colt Firearms, as well as guns of Frontiersman, Buffalo Hunters, Gamblers, Lawman, Outlaws, and an extensive hand cuff collection.
The exhibit also includes a display dedicated to five of the most colorful lawmen who served in Dodge City: Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Ed Masterson, Bill Tilghman, and Ham Bell. All lived very colorful and long lives, except for Ed Masterson who was the first lawman killed in the line of duty in Dodge City.