Ask most folks to name the town that best describes the American (Wild) West, and I’ll bet a goodly proportion will pipe up ‘Dodge City’. The larger than life, warm-hearted town - firmly planted on the rolling Kansas plains - really does represent the essence of the Old West. Meanwhile, away to the south in the great state of Oklahoma, another burgh can lay claim to being the very soul of America’s ‘Mother Road’ - Route 66. Ever lively and welcoming, Elk City sits at the western end of the old Route, as it cuts through the state.
Dodge City, KS really was a cow town, along whose main street - year after year - cattle and cowboys emerged, straight off the legendary Chisholm Trail on which they had trekked up all the way from Texas. Dodge was where the cattle met with the brand new railroad and the cowboys gathered to bathe away the dust, aches and pains; spend their hard-earned pay, and generally get themselves into whatever trouble they could find. and boy, did (in)famous names like Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson and Doc Holliday ever find that trouble! Today, a dozen historic sites and twice as many designated landmarks tell the story, not least during the annual 10-day Dodge City Days festival, and the town welcomes eager visitors from all over the world.
Elk City, OK started out in 1901 - a farming community that was to experience, in just a few short decades, the emergence of the Mother Road; a fast-growing nation driving through town on a daily basis. Meanwhile, getting on with its own business, Elk City turned out a breed of world champion cowboys arguably unsurpassed anywhere. Now, visitors "get their kicks" not just at the National Route 66 Museum, but also in the huge fun Old Town Complex, Farm and Ranch Museum and Blacksmith Museum; fueling up in one (or more!) of Elk City’s selection of diners and restaurants. Today, the big-hearted town is Oklahoma through and through.
There’s no doubt that both Kansas and Oklahoma are replete with intriguing, quirky, must-visit towns - from Lawrence, Abilene and Cottonwood Falls in Kansas, to Bartlesville, Medicine Park and Sulphur in Oklahoma, but this ‘tale of two cities’ - Dodge City and Elk City - brings together the Old West of the 1800’s, the burgeoning America of the 1940’s onwards, and today’s open and confident Western culture in an epic story you have to hear, read and see!
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