Interesting Dodge City History
A view looking east on front street in Dodge City, circa 1878. The signs admonish you to check your guns and drink "Prickly Ash Bitters"!
Early day Dodge City was known as the "wickedest little city in the west" largely due to the gambling halls, saloons and bordellos that sprung up in support of the early cattle drives north. By 1875, the U.S. Army Signal Corps decided to establish a permanent weather station at Dodge to take over for the few sporadic observations that had been taken by the post surgeon at nearby Fort Dodge.
The first observer was a Sgt. M.L. Landers who, after some searching, managed to secure rental of an upstairs room on the north end of the Dodge House Saloon. The instruments were mounted on the roof (a ladder to reach them is visible in the picture).
Trouble was, Landers and several observers immediately after him were mysteriously "busted" back to Private within a few months of their arrival!! Could it be they were over-indulging in the more lurid pleasures to be found in the Dodge House???
One particular early observer was short a sense of humor. A liability in a town commanded by practical jokers William B. (Bat) Masterson and Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp!!
Tom Hobble in his history of early Dodge relates that Masterson pulled a practical joke on the man. He invited him into a saloon (possibly the Dodge House, seen from the south porch in this picture) and offered a drink. As our intrepid observer began to sip, a bunch of the "boys" (who were in on the joke) came crashing through the door gruffly calling his name. Masterson advised him to run out the back door as fast as he could while he (Masterson) tried to slow them down. Our sucker did as suggested. Flinging the door wide and diving through - straight into a large waiting pool of mixed water and manure!!!
and upstairs in the new Airport terminal building by the late 1940's.
As the "wild" days of Dodge City calmed down a bit, ranchers and farmers alike found a new pest had replaced the locust. With the coyote, buffalo and indian populations decimated and the wolf eliminated, the wiley "Jack Rabbit" took advantage of the situation to foster a population explosion. To solve the problem, massive "Jack Rabbit Round-ups" were conducted such as the one pictured to the right. The "bunnies" were herded across the praries into open nets and there, clubed to death. Hundreds of thousands of unlucky "Jacks" met their end in this manner!