Boot Hill Museum is like walking through a worm hole and ending up back in the 1800’s. Everything from the entrance, the employees and the “town” make you feel like you are truly out of place. That is unless, you came prepared in your great western cowboy get up. We did not, we came as civilians of 2017.
I’m all about being a tourist, taking pics, selfies and roaming around, but the wild wild west is not typically my thing. This is totally a Jason thing. However, he appeases me with things like Sea Quest, Ocean World, Bear Country….you get the point. So, when he mentioned that he wanted to go through Dodge City to see the Boot Hill Museum, naturally I was in. Honestly, I really enjoyed it. It was a neat change of pace from all the other touristy things we do, and it was done really well. It really felt like you were walking back in time and got a sense of what the culture was then. It almost felt like at any time someone would come out of one of the saloons and start a gun fight. Now, that would have been awesome since we would just jump back in our worm hole and not be affected, but, spoiler alert, that didn’t happen.
When you first come in you are greeted by a gift shop, pleasant people and a theatre that has a short video explaining the museum, exhibits and the time we are traveling back in to. Take a few minutes and watch the video. It really gets you in to the mindset for what you are about to see.
The first place you go to is the jail. This was pretty neat to see what a jail would have been like back in 1865. Honestly, those guys had it easy. The criminals of today’s day and age would have been out of that thing in seconds. Naturally, we had to get selfies. I’m convinced that’s the closest I will ever be to being in a jail cell.
The next area was probably one of my favorite parts of the experience. That may seem kind of morbid considering it was the Boot Hill Cemetery. But honestly, these guys had a sense of humor for their dead. The headstones were witty and at the base of the plot of some you would see stone shoe tips coming out of the ground. Apparently, no one famous was buried there but they do have a wall stating who they believed to have been buried there according to the papers.
After that, you get to go down and walk the historic Front Street. On the strip there are several little shops, saloons and exhibits displaying cultural and historical objects found from that time period. It was pretty neat walking through and seeing a completely different way of living and even some history and objects from what Jason refers to as “My People”. I have a little bit of Big Bear Indian in me so any time I see a little Indian history or artifacts, I am immediately enthralled. We even stopped at one of the saloons, had a beer and some fudge. I’m not sure if fudge was really sold in saloon’s back then, but it was in this world.
Towards the end of the tour you walk through a gorgeous church. It is truly breathtakingly beautiful inside. To think that even in an environment such as this, they still took the time to have awe inspiring churches and practice is truly amazing. A little fun fact about this church is that it was actually donated to the museum in 2004 and completed renovation in 2009.
This whole museum “project” expanded over many years to make it what you see today. It actually started in 1947 by a private, non-profit organization and staffed by volunteers for the first 10 years of its existence. Talk about dedication for people to experience what the area was like back then.
Truth be told, Dodge City was well worth the stop. We met some nice people, enjoyed a couple good meals and were able to go around in the downtown area and be tourists. The whole downtown area is littered with history, educational plaques and statues. Naturally, great tourist, selfie opportunities. One pointer is DO NOT stay at the Blue RV park. Read about that here: Blue RV Park.
- During the 1950’s the jail was acquired
- In 1958 Front Street was constructed with additional buildings being added in 1964 and 1970
- 1915 a one room school house was added
- Contains over 60,000 objects, artifacts and documents