Our final day in Kansas was an eventful one. We awoke at the Dodge House Motel in Dodge City, surrounded by western brikabrak. Just down the road, we toured Boot Hill, a small theme park at the heart of Dodge City, which celebrated the town's heritage--western notables such as Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson had to bring the town's anarchy under control in the 1870s.
The visit featured the kids getting deputized. Julie, Ellie and I learned the "can-can" dance at the town saloon. It ended with a gunfight right on Front Street!
Dodge City provides a fascinating study of the American West. It began as a town supplying whiskey, gambling and other vices to soldiers stationed at Fort Mann to protect Santa Fe wagon trails from Comanche Indian attacks. Later it was a center of the bison fur trade, which nearly destroyed the vast bison herds that had wandered the Great Plains. When the railroad arrived, it became a cow town, full of wild and raunchy cowboys (in need of Earp's famous Frontier Justice). Finally, it settled down and became the dusty farming town it remains today.