Long Branch Saloon And Front Street

Front Street Viewed West to East

The infamous Long Branch Saloon made famous in all the old Western movies actually was a place in the Dodge City of my youth. My dad and grandfather, born in 1888 said it was a long standing saloon there.

There is a movie set type front street for all the tourist who still come to Dodge, but that is just a made up location for all of the buildings the City constructed to draw in crowds during the airing of the Matt Dillon series.

I was fortunate to have met all the characters from that TV show as the lady who played Miss Kitty was my grandmothers neighbor and took me down to meet them when they came to town for Dodge City Days. James Arness was as big in life as he was in the movies and all of them were extremely nice to all the people there.

Front Street was actually about two blocks South and East of that location. Even early on around 1890 or before, many of the buildings were brick or stone. When I was a kid in 1965, they were three story brick affairs over a ten or so city block area and front Street was still there intact and the Long Branch was still there.

I was only there one time when my Grandfather Hoofnagle took me there to pay his union dues. I had to sit outside as no kids were allowed in drinking establishments in those days. BUT I sat in the doorway and got to smell the musty old building and see the inside. The bar was along one wall with a huge mirror still and a few men were perched there. The floors were bare wood and walls old yellow plaster. The ceilings were tin and there were old fans hanging down in the room. It was dark and dingy and smelled of cigars and cigarettes and finally the men told me to come in and take a look around.

It was a real treat as one old man told me it was the original Long Branch and showed me a supposed bullet hole in the wall. My grand father whisked me away and that was the last time I saw it.

Not too long after that the City and State decided to develop Wyatt Earp Blvd along the tracks and tore down at least a whole city block wide strip of buildings. There is parking along there now if you get to go to Dodge. The old Front Street became non existent and it was a sad day.

I recall people sitting down there in the piles of bricks after the buildings were demolished and being paid 5 cents a brick to clean and stack them. That's hard hard work but ppl needed the money even then but would work for it. Different today for sure.