The Long Branch Saloon
in Dodge City
Branch Saloon, one of the most historic
Old West, stills serves up a
brewsky or two and a sarsaparilla at the Boot Hill Museum in
Back in the 1870's
began to acquire its infamous stamp of lawlessness and gun slinging. Without local or military law enforcement, buffalo hunters, railroad
workers, drifters and soldiers scrapped and fought, leading to the
shootings where men died with their boots on.
It was during this time that the famous
Branch Saloon was built, and even that was an
tale, in and of itself. It all began when a bunch of men were
playing ball on the hot dry
Kansas plains. Side
wagers began as the cowboys played against the soldiers. 'Course,
they were tipping a few brewskies during the game and a bigger wager was
soon made that if the soldiers lost, they would provide the building
materials to construct a
Branch Saloon, May, 2004, David Alexander.
This image available for
photographic prints and downloads
All agreed that tipping a few beers outside of the sun
would be a nice relief. Lucky for all, the soldiers lost the
game and the building materials promptly showed up. Before long,
Long Branch Saloon was born.
was purchased by Chalkley Beeson and William Harris in 1878 and
through their efforts it soon became the most popular and refined
place for the cattlemen of
Dodge City. Chalkey Beeson's five-piece orchestra played nightly for the
entertainment of the cattlemen. Beeson also organized and led the
famous Cowboy Band which entertained all over the west at cattlemen's
conventions, concerts, dances and in Washington, D.C. at the
inauguration of President Harrison.
Gambling ranged from a game of five cent
"Chuck-aluck" to thousand dollar poker pots.
Long Branch Saloon
served milk, tea, lemonade, sarsaparilla, all types of alcohol
including champagne, and of course beer. Anheuser-Busch was the
original beer served in theLong
Everything was kept cold in the winter from ice that came from the
river, and in the summer it was shipped out on the train from the
mountains in Colorado.
Long Branch Saloon was one of 16 rowdy saloons during
West Days. Soon, however, lawmen, such as Bat Masterson,
Bill Tilghman, Charlie Basset and others helped to tame the town.
In 1885, the original Front Street
buildings were destroyed by fire and as the cattle drives were ending
with the coming of the railroad, they were never rebuilt.
Today you can see
a reconstruction of Front Street that began in 1947. Located on
a section of the original 1870s cemetery, the buildings represent
as it appeared in 1876. Carefully researched through historic
photographs and newspapers, you feel as if your stepping into the past
when you enter the grounds of the Boot Hill Museum.
and hundreds of original artifacts can be seen throughout the museum
which depict early life in
Dodge City. There is a collection of over 200 original guns on display, a working
print shop, an extensive collection of drug store items, a Victorian
era cattleman's home, one-room school house, railroad depot, dry goods
store, saddlery, and many other special exhibits. Each of the
more than 20,000 artifacts displayed throughout the complex are
At the reconstructed
the exterior was copied from historic photographs. However, the
interior of the building does not duplicate the original, but is
consistent with the interior of the saloons of that time. The authentic
two piece bar was built in 1881 by Brunswick Corporation, and is hand
carved from Cherry wood. There are two Golden Eagles that sit atop the
back bar, that were once a part of Chakley Beeson's collection.
Today, it is illegal for anyone to own stuffed eagles except for Indians
and Museums that acquired them before the 1940's. The stage in the
filled nightly, during the summer, with The Long Branch Variety Show
performers. There are singers and dancers and the stars of the show,
Chalkley Beeson and Miss Kitty.
Today you can still "belly
up to the bar" and order an ice cold Budweiser or a sarsaparilla bottled
for the museum with their own label.
Boot Hill Museum
of America, updated August, 2015..
Inside the Long Branch Saloon. May 2004, Dave
in 1874, courtesy
County Historical Society
"Kansas has but one Dodge City, with a broad expanse of territory
sufficiently vast for an empire; we have only room for one Dodge City;
Dodge, a synonym for all that is wild, reckless, and violent; Hell on
-- A Kansas Newspaper in the 1870's
The original Long Branch Saloon, courtesy
County Historical Society
Inside the Long Branch
2004, Kathy Weiser.
Dodge City -- A
Wicked Little Town
City Historical Text
History and Hauntings
Long Branch Saloon Shootout