Trails and Treasures Home Page  Road Trips  Across America 2004

Ellsworth, Kansas

Ellsworth reigned as the leading cowtown between 1871 and 1875 after Abilene became too civilized to tolerate the violence and mayhem associated with the arrival of the trail herds.  (Wild Bill Hickock became Abilene's marshal in 1871.)  Ellsworth earned a reputation as The Wickedest Cattle Town.  When the railroad reached Wichita, it began to rival Ellsworth, but by 1875 the majority of the cattle trade had moved to Dodge City.

Today the Ellsworth County Historical Society has laid out a 17-stop walking tour along the streets flanking the railroad tracks.  A fire in 1875 destroyed many of the wooden buildings along South Main Street, so there's little to look at in terms of physical remnants of the cowtown era.  Nevertheless, the tour is an interesting walk through history.

About 11 miles to the east of Ellsworth is Mushroom Rock State Park.