Dodge City The Movie

From my father born in Dodge in 1930

     Yes, I remember the Lora Locke well.  It was across the street from the HAT BOX where my mom worked while I was in junior high school.  It was "the" hotel in Dodge and was just east of the Dodge Theater, where the movie "Dodge City" was premiered.  Errol Flynn, was the main character, and once in a while it shows on TV.  My folks and I and Kay went down and stood in the crowd on Walnut just across from  the theater and were there when the stars went in.  Dad held me up so I could see, but of course there was not much a little boy could see or tell anything about.

     I have been in the lobby, but never stayed there or anything like that.  I probably saw the picture, but if I did I probably didn't pay much attention.


Grey Hound Racing Dodge City, Kansas

Yes, the Dick we knew in Hays was one of the boys.  My dad and Rex Reynolds used to pick up stuff from the locker plant to feed their grey hounds.  They had over 100 when mom and dad got married in 1929.  There was a single man, kinda the homeless type, who stayed at the kennels which were west of town on US 50, now Wyatt Earp Blvd., and helped take care of the dogs.  His name was Grover, and I can't remember his last name.  I went to the kennel lots of times with my dad.  

     Charles Cobb, who was also a grey hound enthusiast  and lived north and east of Dodge just south of the Saw Log Creek, built a fenced in course which was probably 300 feet wide by a quarter mile long.  They used real jack rabbits and would hold the dogs until a rabbit was released and see how long it took them to run the quarter of a mile.  There was a way for the rabbit to escape in the fence at the other end before the dogs caught them.  The were captured in a pen and returned to the other end.  We went to the race several times.  Charles Jr. and I were boyhood friends and spent lots of time on the creek.

Boot Hill Cemetary

The following is from my Father Fred Kirkpatrick Jr born in Dodge City Kansas in 1930...

Yep, the original Boot Hill is where the City Hall was at Spruce and Fourth Street. The third ward school was built there and they moved the bodies they could find to q plqce along the west fence of the city cemetery, which was between Avenue B and C about 3-4 blocks north of Military Avenue. My dad went to school at that school and they used to find bones on the play ground, like finger bones, etc.
The reason they buried the outlaw bodies outside the cemetery fence is the people in town did not want them buried in the cemetery. When the old cemetery was moved to Maple Hill Cemetery, they evidently could not or purposely did not move the bodies of the outlaws. The area where they were buried ended up being in an alley after the area was platted, and when the sewer was installed they dug through many of the graves.

Graves On Old Boot Hill

My Grandfather Fred Kirkpatrick, Sr. was born in Dodge City in 1889. His father was prominent attorney and sometimes County Attorney from about 1880 on. Fred became the City Engineer after serving in WWI and working with the City for some time and so he had a hand in the early development of the town.

He was so proud of the brick streets that he designed and had installed. But there is another story that I thought you all might enjoy.

The City was expanding North and there was a need for water and sewer lines for the neighborhood being developed and so my grandfather was in charge of those projects.

As they dug the sewers by hand, many graves were found and one of the men was very spooky about ghosts and would panic when bones were struck. The graves were exhumed and taken to Maple Grove and reburied there but regardless, this man was scared to death. Nearly.

One day late in the day he was working down in the trench and my grandfather was inspecting the work. A cat walked by and SOMEONE threw the cat down on this poor mans bare back. The cat lit with claws extended and the man screamed bloody murder and came up out of that ditch in one leap, running back to town.

My grandfather said the man never even came back for his paycheck. I didnt get it til later but the smirk on Grandpas face MAY have implicated him in the crime of tossing the cat.

True story and just a day in the life of Dodge City, Kansas 1940

Ford County Lake - Old Lead Pencil the Catfish

Old Lead Pencil The Catfish of Ford County Lake



My grandfather Glenn Hoofnagle was one of the greatest fishermen I have ever known. He would catch fish when no one else did and Ford County Lake near Dodge City was no exception. It was a muddy sort of affair NE of Dodge and being surrounded by farmland tended to be muddy in color.


The lake was built in a small depression in the land and there were rocky outcroppings in this area and it must have been a small canyon looking spot before the lake was there. The dam is small but holds water back and has been enjoyed for many many years by people of the area.


There is an old 4-H camp there and the Boy Scouts use that location for activities.


The lake went through some dry spells much like all of Western Kansas and would get extremely low during these periods revealing the rocky overhangs that surround the lake shore. My grandfather had fished through these times and would memorize the rocky overhangs and then utilize that information when the lake refilled.


On these overhangs the constant wave action against the bluffs had eroded caves back under the edges and when the lake returned to normal levels, big catfish would live back in those areas.


My grandfather was one of the first people I ever heard of to use plastic worms and his technique was not like any I have ever seen since either. He would throw it out and slowly reel it in. Now slow to him was one reel crank maybe a minute. That would creep the worm along the bottom so slowly and it was impossible for me to do it as I was a kid and had no patience for that. I have used this technique since and it works unbelievably well.


So he often went out to the lake after work to ply his skills and at one particular spot would get a bite from a huge fish just as the worm would get to the edge of the overhanging cliff. A tough fight would ensue and the fish would go back under the overhanging rock and saw off the line. He used bait casting equipment with braided line so this was no small fish.


Each week my grandmother would write us about grandpa losing the fish once again and they began to call him “Old Lead Pencil” as they figured out that his whiskers were probably about the size of the old lead pencils that people used in the old days. These were solid lead and no wood around them and about as big around as a standard wooden pencil. So this was a big fish.


This weekly battle went on all summer and finally grandpa decided he had to try something different so the next time he got the fish to bite, he hauled back and pulled as hard as he could before the fish could get under the rocky cliff. The fish came up and eventually came to net and it was over 40 pounds.


The fish had been hooked so many times and broken off that his mouth was a total mass of fishing line and hooks and they were amazed that the fish could even eat in that condition. I would like to say that he released the fish but those were the days of using what you caught to supplement your diet and Old Lead Pencil was dipped in corn meal and provided excellent table fare for many meals to come.  

Dodge City Kansas Bait Store

My grandfather on my mothers side was adopted by some people named Hoofnagle and lived near Satanta, Kansas. His birth mother was a young woman named Ross from Wichita and she gave him up for adoption due to being unmarried and her wealthy parents were mortified.

Later in life, she became an invalid and I recall Iola being taken care of by this son she had denied. But the story really is about Avenue D in Dodge City once again.

Glenn Hoofnagle and Guy Quillan had a paint store in Dodge for many years and did painting around the area. Later in life he also had a bait shop in his back yard there. The main reason was that there was no place for people to buy fishing bait and he loved to fish so would accommodate other people.

Many a weekend I spent with Grandpa seining minnows from the Arkansas River to sell during the week. I was always scared to get in the deeper holes which seems funny now that there isn't any water in the river there and hasn't been for 40 years I guess.

He had a cellar and raised worms for sale too.

Grandmother Mabel Hoofnagle was a Gillette by birth with many family members there in town. She always had Peonies flowers in abundance and sold them for $0.25 a bunch as she "always wanted poor people to have flowers to decorate the graves" on Decoration Day. That's our memorial day now.

IF you remember going there as a child I would love to hear from you.


J.M. Kirkpatrick Dodge City Attorney and Abstrator

My great grandfather J.M. Kirkpatrick moved to Dodge City sometime around 1878 . His brother had proceeded him and owned the furniture store and mortuary there. J.M. became a prominent attorney and was well respected even serving as County Attorney for a time. 

He was the abstractor for all of the sales of property in the area and was said to be able to recall by memory all the transactions that took place in town over the many years he was in business. 

He and his brother Edward were there during the Dodge City Wars and told of knowing Wyatt Earp and the other gunfighters well. Their recollections were that those men were of the most vile sorts and they ran the gambling an prostitution in town also. J.M. was supposedly a Phoenix Lodge member and Wyatt Earp was said to play cards with them at the Lodge as  member also. 

He bought the abstract business from a man named Swineheart who moved to Creede Colorado and we met his great grandson and became friends before we had found that information out. Funny how that came about. 


Dodge City Feed Yards

Nothing about Dodge City is complete without a discussion of the many cattle feed yards that surround the town. The largest are still in use out East of town and when the prevailing winds are right, the smell can be almost overwhelming. 

The locals always said "Smells like money" on those days and cattle were the main reason Dodge existed from the start. 

First of all the trail herds were brought up from South and West Texas to the rail head there in Dodge and from there shipped to the markets in the East. Millions of cattle streamed into Dodge and with them, cowboys of every type and character visited town. 

To appease their appetites after months on the trail, gamblers, saloons, mercantile, traders, prostitutes and every form of evil purveyors set up shop to relieve them of their hard won money. 

As fencing took over the West, cattle became more of a farmed product and Dodge City with its great expanses of grassland was prime country to raise great herds. The plow slowly reduced the grasslands to small pockets and the cattle then began to be raised more and more in confined pens in feed lots and fed special rations for maximum growth per day on feed. 

These huge feed lots are still there in Dodge and can be seen by the visitors from the roads near them. They also fueled a later development in the City with beef packing facilities employing thousands of workers supplying beef to a hungry nation. Those plants are still in operation today. 

THE LAST Gunfight in Dodge City, Kansas

My father related to us tonight about the last gunfight as witnessed by his father Fred Kirkpatrick Sr. born in Dodge in 1889. He said it was about 1915 or so and his dad and the other people in town witnessed two men square off about 40 yards apart on Trail Street and shoot at one another six shots each. Neither one hit the other person and they were taken away before they could reload.  This story corrects a previous one about his father and the last gunfight and glad to hear this one from my father who grew up in Dodge also. 



Great Grandfather J.M. Kirkpatrick

Although I have written about him before, I thought I would put in a new story about him and my grandfather. We are unsure about the exact date J.M. came to Dodge City but recent finds date him there maybe as early as 1878 or earlier. 

Reading about the Dodge City War which involved Luke Short calling all the old gang together to keep from being thrown out of Dodge dated that in 1883. 

Wyatt Earp and the rest of the Peace Commission got their pics taken in 1883 and their presence pretty well settled the dispute between Luke Short and the mayor in Short;s favor. 

The pics below are of my great grandfather J.M. who was county attorney and lived up into the 1930's in Dodge City raising a large family there. Also see the Peace Commission in a now famous photo of the time. 

J.M. knew them all well and was lodge brother to many of them. He spoke often of them to my grandfather and he was able to pass this on to us as he lived a long and prosperous life in Dodge City. 

Brick Streets In Dodge City

Just a short story here. My grandfather, Fred Kirkpatrick, Sr. was the City Engineer in Dodge for many years serving as assistant engineer in the early 1900's also. 

I am not sure why concrete was not used on the streets but Dodge, just like the other Kansas towns of the time, began using bricks for paving. These were laid on a sand base over a harder substrate like concrete and took a huge amount of labor to install. The best part about them was repairs could be made to water lines or other buried infrastructure and the street repaired to like new condition. 

I assume that the heavier vehicles today have as much to do with the demise of these streets as anything as their design load probably wasn't intended to support bigger trucks etc. They do last a long time and even though they get rough ,many are still in use today 100 years later. 

My grandfather loved the brick streets of Dodge and was so proud to have been instrumental in the construction of so many. So when you drive down those cobblestone avenues, you will now know who to blame.

Dodge City Band Shell

My grandfather was the City Engineer at Dodge City for many years and was instrumental in the development of the infrastructure of that town. It was growing during those early 1920's and 1930's and on even with the Great Depression things were happening there due to the work of the WPA. 

This was an attempt by the Federal Government to get men and women working during the times when there were no jobs and many civic centers, swimming pools, grandstands and other things were built to keep these men and women busy. 

The bandshell was built with just such labor and my Grandfather Fred Kirkpatrick Sr. designed the band shell at Wright Park. That structure, the racetrack grandstands and I believe maybe the pavilion were all built using this labor. I am unsure about the old swimming pool. 

It is still in use today and a beautiful addition to the park. Surviving many floods and other attempts to remove it, it remains a great addition  and a lasting tribute to his efforts to make Dodge City a great place to live. 

The Womens Hat Shop - The Hat Box

My grandmother Kirkpatrick was born in 1900 and came to Dodge City as a young woman to work. Her and her twin sister had both been to college and that was a very rare and new occurrence in those days. 

She had learned to make hats and that being quite the rage among women then for the next 30 to 40 years she worked at that job even in the years when I would visit them for extended times and I was about 13 years old. 

She worked then at a store called The Hat Box. I would ride my bicycle downtown and visit her about every day. I recall the store being about a block east of the Sante Fe Depot and North of Front Street about a block. It sat about 2/3rds the way down the block from where Hwy 50 turned at the Depot and was on the North side of the street. 

My memories are of sweet smelling older ladies scurrying around the store. Hats were perched for display everywhere and some had feathers poking out of them. I think at that time they were boxy little things that sat atop a woman's head and I never recall seeing my grandmother dress up without a hat on. 

Growing Up In Dodge City 1937

This story comes to me from my father who was born in Dodge City on October 21, 1930. Today he divides his time between Luray, Kansas and South Fork, Colorado.

Once upon a time, well really the time was about 1936-37.  We had just moved back from Hutchinson, where my father had worked for the Hutchinson Foundry as a salesman for a  year or so while the City of Dodge was trying to accumulate enough money to pay their employees.  It was the middle of the depression, and no one had any money to speak of.  We moved into a house on Sixth Avenue which was about 3 blocks north of Lincoln Grade School.  I was a second grader and Miss Tulis was my second grade teacher.  Getting started there was not hard since I had attended there before our move to Hutchinson and knew all the kids in my grade.

     Our house was a nice one story on a corner lot.  And best of all it had an old chicken house behind it which immediately became a "club" house.  Not that we had any important meetings there, but it was a place a fellow could get away.  The reason I mention this is that it had some old oak flooring stored in it, and that provided for some really great inventions.

     Our neighbors two houses to the north had a bunch or kids.  The Winfrey's had twin boys, a couple of years older than me, named Larry and Darrey, and a girl named Margie, who was a year younger than me, and a younger boy who was an infant when we lived there.  Anyway we had great times playing together.  

     The area around where we lived was hilly and so provided some exciting entertainment if you were lucky enough not to kill yourself.  One of the great things was that the whole area had sidewalks which served as a place to skate.  We had the clamp on type of skates, which would expand as your shoe size changed.  Now we come to the oak flooring I mentioned.  I cut one of the pieces of flooring and put it between my legs and had a great brake by leaning back and pulling up which caused the wood to drag on the sidewalk.  You could control your speed that way which was really important when you were skating down the steep hills just east of our house.

     Another great entertainment was to walk on stilts. Here again the oak floor was a godsend.  I should mention that my dad made my first stilts, which had long handles and whose foot rests were about 8 inches off of the ground, but they were good enough to learn and master the art of stilt walking.  So after becoming proficient at stilt walking, I graduated to a pair of oak flooring uprights with the foot rest about two feet off the ground, and the tops of which just came to my waist when on them.  I got so I could run on them and jump on them and they became a great source of transportation. There were of course a few spills, but nothing serious.

      Since I have mentioned Lincoln grade school, I should also mention our flag pole which was about 6 inches in diameter, and made of steel and painted with aluminum paint.  The flags were flown every day when the weather was good, and were always taken down at night, to do otherwise was to desecrate the flag.  That has nothing to do with the insane attempt at licking the pole in the dead of winter, lots of kids learned the hard way that your tongue would immediately be frozen to the pole.  It always looked like a losing proposition so I never tried it.


Dodge City Flood of 1965

FROM the Dodge City Weather Service.   

FROM the Dodge City Weather Service.


I was only about 9 years old when this occurred but my memories are vivid about not only Dodge City but Denver and Pueblo as well as other small towns along the way.

Our family was on vacation in Oregon visiting my Dad's brother when the flood hit. My dad rushes us homeward since we had family in Dodge City but there was nothing that could be done for them so we might as well have stayed out there.

We came down through Denver and Pueblo and I remember the railroad boxcars all scattered by the floodwaters and our drive down the Arkansas River had scenes of flooding in every town with some detours.

Towns were built along the River long ago for a source of water so are subject to floods that occur. I recall driving past Lakin an then Kendall where the highway was washed out and the sheriff was guiding people through the area

Garden City was a disaster and every town was flooded as we neared Dodge. The storm had dumped over 24 inches of rain in the upper reaches of the drainage and it had no where to go but down the river. John Martin Reservoir filled to over capacity and they had to open the gates wide open thereby unleashing a torrent downstream on the people below. Testimony from a worker on the dam said it was shaking with strain and its a miracle that it held

If you visit that dam today you can still see old logs along the upper edge of the dam from that high water level. At least you could see the trash 5 years ago when I last visited.

Dodge City was flooded badly and I remember the water marks on buildings in South Dodge 10 feet up on the walls. My Aunt Alice lived down there and her house was flooded horribly near Sunnyside School. Her sons were cleaning up when we arrived and there was about 2 feet of nasty mud in the house.

My Grandparents lived above the high water mark so we did not have to help them. My father was a pastor and he felt like we needed to check on things in Great Bend where we lived.  I remember Kinsley and Larned being flooded horribly and Pawnee Rock had water in every house there. Garfield also had massive damage being right on the river.

Great Bend had some few days warning and a valiant effort was put out to save the City. Men and boys and machinery converged West of town and in a few days time built a low dirt berm extending from the river up to the airport and higher ground. It actually did save the town from the floodwaters but just barely.

Later efforts along the River building huge dike systems have eliminated all but the worst threats from the Mighty Arkansas River today. But the smaller towns who could not afford these dikes remain at risk for the next deluge. Towns like Coolidge, Lakin, Syracuse, kendall, Ingalls, Garfield, Kinsley and others are right in the path for the next event.               Movie showing the flood.



Ford County Lake

I spent many a evening out at Ford County Lake with my Grandfather Glenn Hoofnagle. He was my mother's father and was a great fisherman. He could catch fish when no one else did and my love for fishing was fueled by going with him and watching him haul in huge catfish and bass from the lakes we visited.

They ate everything they caught and never wasted a thing. Combined with garden produce we had some good meals around that old dining room table.

The lake itself is in a small draw with some rock bluffs around it making for good hiding places for the fish when it is full. Grandpa told me he would go out there when the lake was low and memorize each rock formation so that later he could fish those areas when the water level came up.

One method he used was to cast a plastic worm out over one of the submerged cliffs and let t settle to the bottom. Then, ever so slowly, he would turn the handle on his fishing reel one revolution about every 30 seconds. This was too slow for an impatient youth to fish like that but he caught some massive channel cats like that.

The lake is a muddy one but he was able to catch fish on lures regardless. I have not been here for some time but would like to know if it even has water in it.

Ford State Fishing Lake




Dodge City, KS
GPS: 37.82573 -99.91644

Contact Information

Manager: Todd Gatton
Phone: (620) 895-6446


The dam was originally built in 1936. In 1990, the area was donated to the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks in order to renovate the lake for fishing. At the same time, Ford County assumed management of the area for public use. In 1991-1992, the lake was renovated and stocked with fish after filling.


Ford State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area is located in Ford County, approximately 3 miles north and 5 miles east of Dodge City. The property consists of 260 acres of uplands, 10 acres of wetlands, and a 45 acre lake. The uplands and wetlands are made up of heavily timbered riparian areas along the creek, native grass on the side slopes, and old crop fields on the flatter upland terrain. An old 4-H campis located on the east side and is presently maintained as a Boy Scout area

Dodge City Ice Plant

One of my earliest memories was going with my Grandfather Fred Kirkpatrick, Sr to get ice at the old ice plant in South Dodge. It was South of the tracks about two or three blocks and East of the old house with the cement pond as written about earlier.

We would go there whenever we came to visit which was about every weekend due to my father helping someone found a church there in Dodge City. He had a Friday night meeting for awhile in the Girl Scout Hut near Sunnyside School if memory is correct.

Grandpa and I would get in his 1959 Dodge Truck and go down to get the ice. It was a wonder of mechanical genius for a small boy to put in the money and listen to the grinding and pounding inside the big old building as the ice made its way to the chute.

He taught me to stand way back as we didn't get crushed ice but the big old blocks of clear solid ice as he believed it made better homemade ice cream. Then going home we would have to use an ice pick or ice shaver to reduce the block to useable pieces

I cant recall what it costs in those days and need to drive past there this year when I go through town in May to see if the old building still stands. So many memories from such simple things

Dodge City Flood of 1941

This story has been shared by my father Fred Kirkpatrick Jr. who was born in 1930 in Dodge City and spent his youth there. ...THE PICTURE is of the 1911 flood in Dodge City and was a postcard from my Grandfather Kirkpatrick's collection of photos etc.

1941 Flood at Dodge City, Kansas

     I was 10 years old when the flood came to our home on Park Street in Dodge.  It began with a cloud burst in Colorado, south and west of Lamar.  Unfortunately this was before they built what they called Caddo Dam on the Arkansas River west of Lamar.  Since there was no flood control on any of the towns along the Arkansas River, everything west and east of Dodge City flooded.

     We had a small farm and had cows, and chickens and a black Cocker Spaniel dog, which I got for my 9th birthday, by the name of "Lady".  When the flood arrived it became necessary to move our cows out of the flood, since the area where they were kept was about 5 feet deep.  Of course the barn was flooded and the hay that was stored there at ground level was ruined.  The chicken house was not located on as low a level as the barn, and so the water in the chicken house was only about 4 feet deep.  We raised White Leghorn hens for their eggs and the nests for laying were in the chicken house along with the roosts which were about 3 feet above the floor and so were out of the water.  

     Our home was a bit higher yet, and the water came up just under the floor joists, but filled the basement.  Park Street ran east and west in front of our house and it was like a roaring river, very swift and could not be waded across.  We took the cows up a block or so north where the water did not reach and some folks looked after them until the flooding was over.  We lost lots of our chickens due to drowning.  A neighbors came and took my mother. and brother and sister, who was crippled from polio, out of the house in a boat.  They lost control about half way across the flooding street, and ended up about  500 feet east of our house, but no one was hurt.  My dad and I went out later after doing some last minute chores.  

     Since we had no place to go we ended up staying at the Trails End Hotel on East Chestnut Street, north and a little east of the Santa Fe Railroad Station and yards.  The hotel was owned by Joe Getche and was run by his sister.  They were Jewish folks, but not practicing Jews.

Joe had some land east of our place where he kept racing greyhounds.  They also had to be moved.  Joe dated my Kindergarten teacher, but as far as I know they never married.  Her name was Miss Andres.

     The flooding continued for about a week, and then we were able to go home.  What a mess it was, with about 6 inches of silt or what we called "flood mud" on everything.  Of course our fishing pond had overflowed and most of the fish had washed away, and the wells which we used for water to irrigate with were never the same.  Our primary irrigation pump, was severely damaged, and what had been a 100 gallon a minute well was reduced to about 60 gpm.  The electric motor which drove the centrifugal pump had to be taken out and repaired since it was full of mud.  It took several years before the damage to the irrigation system, and all it entailed was finally completed.  My dad in an attempt to dislodge the mud from the irrigation well borrowed a high powered rifle and fired several rounds into the well, it didn't seem to help much.

      The cows finally came home and the barn was cleaned out and the hay was thrown away, and they had to live on purchased hay until some new crops could be planted and harvested.  The chicken house was cleaned out and the chickens resumed their egg laying.  We survived, but were always looking over our shoulder for the next flood.


Ham Bell

Ham Bell was a colorful character from the early days of Dodge City serving as a peace officer at times and was contemporary with many of the well known outlaws and lawmen of the day.

My father recalls visiting Ham's store in downtown Dodge as a boy. It was a curio shop of sorts and of course drew in young boys to see the sights and sounds.

His most vivid memory was that Ham had a pet monkey and those kinds of memories tend to stick with us.

Dodge City Avenue "D" Floods

Just a short remembrance here. One of my grandparents lived down on Avenue "D" in Dodge and often I would stay with them for a week or two at a time fishing with my grandfather. It must of rained more in those days as many a night we sat on the porch swinging and watching the lightning. Grandpa would sit in his old rocker with his feet on the porch pillar peeling an apple or grapefruit and grandmother would tell stories of the old days when her mother lived in Missouri.

The rains would come pounding down on the streets and yards and Avenue "D" was at the bottom of all the other streets so a flood would ensue almost every time it rained. Many a time I could watch cars washing past in the rising waters.
The curbs are very high there and the houses built up probably 3 or more feet out of the streets to allow for this natural drainage. The water would pour down to the highway and across and under the railroad tracks ending up in the Arkansas River eventually.

There is just no way to allow for that much runoff with underground piping so it probably remains the same to this day. Those hills were sure a challenge as I rode my bike around town and up to the North end visiting my Grandparents Kirkpatrick.