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  The Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City

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The Long Branch Saloon, one of the most historic saloons of the Old West, stills serves up a brewsky or two and a sarsaparilla at the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City, Kansas.

Back in the 1870's Dodge City 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 Long Branch Saloon was built, and even that was an Old West 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 saloon.


Long Branch Saloon Dodge City, Kansas

The Long Branch Saloon, May, 2004, David Alexander.

This image available for photographic prints and downloads HERE!




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, the Long Branch Saloon was born.


The saloon 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. The 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 the Long Branch. 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.


The Long Branch Saloon was one of 16 rowdy saloons during Dodge City's Wild West Days. Soon, however, lawmen, such as Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, 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 Dodge City as it appeared in 1876. Carefully researched through historic photographs and newspapers, you feel as if you're stepping into the past when you enter the grounds of the Boot Hill Museum.


Various exhibits 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 authentic.


At the reconstructed Long Branch Saloon, 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 Long Branch is 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.



Contact Information:

Boot Hill Museum
Front Street

Dodge City, Kansas



Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated June, 2017.




Inside Long Branch Saloon, Dodge City. Dave Alexander, 2004

Inside the Long Branch Saloon. May 2004, Dave Alexander.



Dodge City Kansas 1874

Dodge City in 1874, courtesy Ford 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 the Plains."

-- A Kansas Newspaper in the 1870's





The original Long Branch Saloon

The original Long Branch Saloon, courtesy Ford County Historical Society




Long Branch Saloon Dodge City, Kansas

Inside the Long Branch Saloon, May, 2004, Kathy Weiser.


Long Branch Saloon cartoon

Cartoon by Dan Thompson


Also See:


Dodge City -- A Wicked Little Town

Dodge City Historical Text

Fort Dodge History and Hauntings

Hell-Raising Dodge

Long Branch Saloon Shootout

Populating Boot Hill



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