For over 20 years after the Civil War, cowboys drove herds of cattle along all landscapes and through all sorts of weather, from the Texas grasslands north to the railheads in Kansas.
At the end of the trail lay the infamous cow towns, proclaimed to be the “Sodoms of the plains” by many, places such as Abilene, Hays City, Wichita, Ellsworth and Dodge City.
After as many as three months, of following a herd of slow moving cattle, eating dust all the way, these towns offered the cowboy a place to take a bath, gamble, find a woman, eat good food and let off steam.
Most, if not all towns had a liberal attitude toward these loud boisterous drovers. There were limits, however, and the towns hired enforcers to maintain a semblance of law and order.
Law officers such as Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickok, Luke Short and Bat Masterson became legends.
The town’s prosperity continued only as long as the railroad provided a railhead. As the railroad moved farther west the towns fizzled while another took its place.
Some towns, like Newton, Kansas, lasted only one season.
Dodge City lasted much longer, but when the railroads pushed their tracks into Texas and closer to the grazing land, Dodge’s days as a cattle town ended.
Dodge City, Kansas was probably one of the more notorious cattle towns as we see in Movies and on Television.
To be continued: