About 150 miles west of Wichita, DODGE CITY is perhaps the most famous of all America’s frontier towns, its blend of cowboys and kitsch a must-see for any Wild West aficionado. Dodge actually had a relatively brief heyday, from 1875 until 1886. Established in 1872 along with the Santa Fe Railroad, which transported millions of buffalo hides, by 1875 the town of traders, trappers and hunters had to find a new economic base – the buffalo had been practically exterminated. The era of the great cattle drives was underway, but even then Dodge City’s gambling, drinking and lawlessness – which kept busy charismatic, if morally suspect, lawmen such as Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp – were much exaggerated, and every gunfight meticulously chronicled by the local press. In the 1980s Dodge began another boom, with TV shows like Gunsmoke helping to create the tourist industry that thrives today.
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