Like many new frontier communities, Dobytown evolved to meet the needs of the thousands of soldiers, traders, teamsters and pioneers traveling west. Gambling, liquor and prostitution were among its main attractions. Dobytown also served as the major outfitting point west of the Missouri River, the center of frontier transportation from 1860 to 1866. A Pony Express station was located in Dobytown and it was the first county seat of Kearney County.
The completion of the Union Pacific Railroad in 1869 reduced the travel along the trail and by the fort. The U.S. Army issued an order for abandonment of Fort Kearny on 22 May 1871. This caused Dobytown to be abandoned.