The former El Vaquero Harvey House and depot was built in 1898. Today the renovated structure houses a passenger waiting area, meeting space and a repertory company.
Dodge City, Kansas
Central Avenue & Wyatt Earp Street Dodge City, KS 67801
- Annual Station Revenue (2014)
- Annual Station Ridership (2014)
|Facility Ownership||City of Dodge City|
|Parking Lot Ownership||City of Dodge City|
|Platform Ownership||BNSF Railway|
|Track Ownership||BNSF Railway|
|10 Long Term Parking Spaces||5 Short Term Parking Spaces||Accessible Payphones|
|Accessible Platform||Accessible Restrooms||Accessible Waiting Room|
|Accessible Water Fountain||Dedicated Parking||Enclosed Waiting Area|
- Southwest Chief
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The Amtrak stop in Dodge City is located at the former El Vaquero Harvey House and depot, a two story red brick Richardsonian Romanesque style structure built in 1898 by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (ATSF) and subsequently enlarged and altered.
Occupying almost two blocks, the structure included a passenger depot and railroad offices, as well as a hotel and eating house run by Fred Harvey. The “Harvey Houses,” as they were known, dotted the ATSF tracks across the West. In the days before dining cars became common, passengers had to detrain in order to eat a meal at a trackside restaurant. The food was generally of poor quality until Fred Harvey revolutionized the offerings starting in the 1870s.
By the turn of the twentieth century, the ATSF and Fred Harvey had begun to build a series of trackside hotels in the Southwest that were meant to attract tourists and help generate money for both companies. The buildings often adhered to fanciful designs that looked to the region’s American Indian and Spanish past. Drawing on these traditions, the railroad and Fred Harvey created resorts replete with a bit of exoticism that attracted tourists from across the United States and even abroad.
Faced with a decline in passenger rail traffic, many Harvey Houses were shuttered in the 1940s and 1950s--including El Vaquero, which closed in 1948. Portions of the hotel structure were used thereafter as railroad offices, while other areas were boarded up with all the furnishings and fixtures left in place. In 1996, BNSF Railway donated the depot to the city, and it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.
From 2000 to 2002, the depot and the El Vaquero/Harvey House restaurant were renovated with funding of $11 million through a grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation and the U. S. Department of Transportation via the TEA-21 reimbursement program, as well as private donations gathered by the Boot Hill Repertory Company (now the Depot Repertory Company). The city also contributed $100,000 to the project in order to secure $400,000 in matching state transportation funds.
The 45,000 square-foot building has been completely rehabilitated to its early appearance, including rebuilding the platform. Great care was taken in restoring the brick, metal, limestone and sandstone exterior. The old hotel lobby, now the main gathering room, has been restored using many of the original fixtures, flooring, counter, woodwork and leaded glass windows. The Harvey House dining room has also been restored for use as a meeting space. The Amtrak station has been renovated as well through the process of adaptive reuse; the rest of the building houses the theater and workspaces.
In June 2013, Dodge City won $258,000 through the Federal Highway Administration's Transportation Enhancement (TE) program to support further station rehabilitation work. Under the TE program, funds can be used for activities related to the preservation of historic transportation facilities, including depots. The grant will be put towards a long-term project to rehabilitate and replace the structure's doors, windows and soffits.
Dodge City is county seat for Ford County, Kansas, only blocks from the Arkansas River and the 100th meridian, in an area of complete prairie. From 1847 until 1882, a sequence of forts was built in the Dodge City area to protect travelers along the Santa Fe Trail, ending with the Army’s Fort Dodge. Cattle ranching travel along the Santa Fe Trail and the approach of the Santa Fe railroad all encouraged people to settle and found Dodge City in 1872, just five miles west of Fort Dodge. The Santa Fe arrived in September of 1872 to find a town ready and waiting for business.
In 1883 and 1884, Dodge City experienced a boom as a Cow Town, due to it being the best place for cattle herds to meet the railroad. Cattle were being driven up from Texas to the railheads in Kansas; however it was thought that the Texas longhorns were spreading splenic fever via ticks to other cattle, and the Kansas state legislature moved a quarantine line across the state. In 1885, the quarantine was extended across the state, and by 1886, the cowboys, saloon keepers, gamblers, and brothel owners had moved west. Dodge City became a town like other agricultural communities in the area.
Later, it was learned the Texas cattle did not have the ticks on them, but rather the eggs were imbedded in the mud in their feet. The mud needed to be cleaned out and the threat of ticks would be eliminated. Dodge City successfully lobbied to repeal the quarantine years later, but the Texas cattle industry had already made other arrangements by routing the cattle to Missouri. This city never regained the cattle trade it once had.
As an archetypal town of the American Old West, Dodge City is also famous as the setting for the long-running radio and television western drama, Gunsmoke.
Amtrak does not provide ticketing or baggage services at this facility, which is served by two daily trains. Volunteers open the waiting room in time for the trains' arrivals.