Ford County Kansas

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FORD COUNTY by Brandon Noll Ford County was named in honor of Colonel James H. Ford, of the Second Colorado Calvary, Commander at Fort Dodge, once a Military Reservation of about 12,000 acres. It was the most important military outpost on the Santa Fe Trail from about 1858 to 1882. Land was homesteaded by settlers and some land was purchased, coming from two sources, the Santa Fe Land Grant and the Osage Treaty Lands. Dodge City, was declared the county seat and was a famous frontier town and shipping center. Mention 'Dodge City' to anyone above the age of five and the "wild west" will come alive for them. Of all the cattle and railroad (trailhead) towns, Dodge City has been the most notorious and romanticized of the lot. Dodge City was founded in 1872. It quickly began to rise to a major trade center on the Santa Fe Trail. By September of 1872 the shiny steel rails of the brand new Atchison, Topeaka, and Santa Fe Railroad stretched into view. And Dodge City was waiting and began to grow at a record rate. But in those early years Dodge City also obtained its infamous stamp of lawlessness and gunslinging. There was no local law enforcement and military had no jurisdiction over the town, so lawlessness reigned. Buffalo hunters, railroad workers, drifters, and soldiers scrapped and fought, leading to the shootings where men died with their boots on. And that created a hasty need for a local burial place, and still a famous tourist attraction- Boot Hill Cemetery. Dodge City's reputation for rowdiness was universal and it was boasted that 24 men were killed in single year, which was a lot for back then. By 1876 the buffalo were gone and longhorn cattle from Texas drove the dollars into town. During the next ten years, over five million head were driven up the western branch of the Chisholm and western Trails to Dodge City. Law and order came riding into town with such respectable peace officers as Bat Masterson, Bill Tilghman, Doc Holliday, and Charlie Bassett. Out of these personalities evolved the famous fictional character of Marshall Matt Dillion. Too soon, however, the ultimate fate that swallowed up all the cattle towns: in 1885 the state legislature passed a new quarantine law that closed all of Kansas to the tick-infested cattle that were being driven up from Texas. By the end of that year the trails were blocked by lines of barbed- wire fence. 2 Finally, and ironically, the very railroads that provided the original impetus for the cattle towns also helped to make them anachronisms. They did this by simply extending their lines into Texas. Dodge City is world famous for "Boot Hill", and "Front Street", which is located in the heart of Dodge City. In western lore Dodge City holds a unique place as, one of the wildest and roughest towns on the frontier, its reputation as, "the wickedest little city in America" was well founded. Front Street with the Long Branch Saloon and Rath and Wright Store, is as much a part of its legend as the names of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and Bat Masterson. There are deeds on file in the Register of Deeds Office with Bat Masterson's signature on them. The Historical Lora Locke Hotel, built in 1928, was purchased by Ford County in 1989. All six floors renovated with the Lobby and Mezzanine areas staying in its original design. County offices moved to the "Ford County Government in May of 1991. Dodge City is served by two colleges, Dodge City Community College and St. Mary of the Plains College. Dodge City Community College prepares over 2,300 students for further training in every field from accounting to pre-veterinary medicine and hands-on technical training for everything from communication technology to wastewater technology. A computer laboratory of 65 IBM and Macintosh computers prepares students for such field robotics, computer-aide

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