Dusting off pages offers up the dirt on Times gone by by
Historical Society archives contain every issue of the old Dodge City Times published
in the 1870s and 1880s. Browsing the many articles contained within is interesting
and educational as we learn about the common happenings of that time. |
term "getting away from it all" meant an entirely different thing from today,
as back on Sept. 6, 1879, the Times told of a posse capturing nine horse thieves
who had stolen a herd of area ranch horses. Five of the thieves were captured,
while four "got away in the Rattlesnake Sand Hills."
The next issue of
the Times stated the four thieves who got away were buried in the hills.
The Times quoted the Mobeetie Panhandle newspaper with the following article:
"The road between here (Mobeetie)
is well defined by a row of black bottles that flash in the rays of the sun. They
One can assume the black, empty bottles were whiskey bottles
and that the trip between the two early towns was more enjoyable for some than
The Times told of a man living beside the Canadian
River who made extra money by guiding and hauling travelers who needed to
cross the sometimes treacherous waterway.
During a recent trip across
the riverbed, in which the man hauled baggage on his buckboard pulled by two horses,
the first crossing was without incident. When the man retraced his tracks a few
minutes later, the team and buckboard sunk out of sight almost instantly, with
the man barely escaping the quicksands.
Later, when he attempted to probe
the spot with a long pole in an effort to recover his buckboard, no trace of the
equipment or team could be found.
A plea for extra freight wagons to come
to Dodge City to help haul the stacks of freight piled alongside the railroad
track was puzzling. What was the reason for this problem?
reveals that in 1881 to 1883, the Texas
Panhandle was filling up quickly with ranchers and farmers all wanting to
enclose their properties with new-fangled barbed-wire
fences. Much of the extra freight was spools of new barbed
wire destined for the Panhandle
Another article explained that a spool of barbed weighed approximately
80 to 90 pounds and contained one-fourth mile of wire. A boxcar load of wire spools
weighed some 22,000 pounds, or about 275 spools of barbed
wire. This amount of wire would build a three-wire fence for a distance of
23 miles. Many ranches ordered 10 to 20 carloads of wire per order.
were the freighters getting behind in their hauling?
Another Times issue
explained the freighters were encountering huge piles of buffalo
bones alongside the trails belonging to settlers who had gathered them to sell.
The freighters could purchase these bones by the wagonload, haul them to Dodge
City, sell them to the railroad
and make more money on this backhaul than was made on the original freight load
going out of Dodge. This profitable process drastically slowed the customary hauling
© Delbert Trew
All Trew" October
21, 2009 Column