Long Branch Saloon

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Long Branch Saloon
The Long Branch Saloon in 1874.jpg
The Long Branch Saloon in 1874.
General information
Status Original destroyed by fire in 1885.
Architectural style False-front
Location Dodge City, Kansas, United States
Opening c.1874
Destroyed 1885
Owner Chalk Beeson, William H. Harris, Luke Short, and others.

The Long Branch Saloon was the most well-known saloon in Dodge City, Kansas from about 1874 to 1885. It had numerous owners, most notably Chalk Beeson and gunfighter Luke Short.[1] The establishment provided live entertainment, notably Chalk's five-person orchestra, and gambling. It was the scene of many altercations, shoot-outs, gunfights and standoffs often associated with the then-wild cattle town, the most famous of which was the Long Branch Saloon Gunfight, in which Frank Loving killed Levi Richardson.

Origins[edit]

The saloon was built as the result of a wager between cowboys and soldiers playing ball. Bets were placed and if the cowboys beat the soldiers, the soldiers agreed to provide building materials to construct a saloon.[2]

Interior of the Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City, Kansas.
Chalk Beeson, co-owner with William Harris of the Long Branch Saloon.

Chalkley Beeson, a wealthy farmer and rancher, and William Harris bought the saloon in 1878, and Harris named it after his hometown of Long Branch, New Jersey.[3] It was a plain, storefront bar with little ornamentation, which was typical for frontier saloons of the time. The saloon prospered until the railroad replaced the cattle drive, and when the establishment burned down in a fire in 1885, it wasn't rebuilt.[4]

Entertainment[edit]

It soon became the most popular and refined saloon in Dodge City. Chalkey Beeson was a talented musician and led a five-piece orchestra that played nightly. 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 ice was shipped by train from the mountains of Colorado. Gambling ranged from a game of five cent "Chuck-aluck" to thousand dollar poker pots.[4]

Notable patrons[edit]

The saloon hosted many Old West characters, including Clay Allison, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Frank Loving, Dave Mather, Charlie Bassett, and brothers Bat, Ed and James Masterson, and others.

Site of conflicts[edit]

The saloon was the site, on April 5, 1879, of a gunfight between Frank Loving and Levi Richardson, both gamblers who frequented the saloon. Loving accused Richardson of making disrespectful advances towards his wife, and the two got into an argument then turned into a gunfight from across a table. Loving was grazed on the hand by one bullet and Richardson was shot three times and died. Town Marshal Charlie Bassett arrested Loving, but on April 7, a coroners inquest ruled that Loving acted in self defense and he was released without charges.

Professional gambler and gunfighter Luke Short's purchase of a partial interest in the saloon in 1883 was credited as one of the causes of the bloodless Dodge City War.

In popular culture[edit]

A saloon using the same name was featured in almost every episode of the longest-running television drama, Gunsmoke. A new establishment named the Long Branch Saloon, largely based on Gunsmoke, was built as part of the modern non-profit Boot Hill Museum entertainment and exhibit theme park in Dodge City. The exterior was modeled on period photographs of the original building, while the interior is consistent with period saloons of the era. It is furnished with an 1881 bar and two Golden Eagles on top of the back bar that were once owned by Chakley Beeson.[4] The modern saloon hosts the Long Branch Variety Show, the longest-running seasonal show in the country.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Long Branch Saloon. Retrieved 2010-03-11.
  2. ^ Weiser, Kathy (March 2010). "The Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City". Legends of America. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  3. ^ "Kansas Fun Facts and Trivia". Legends of America. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  4. ^ a b c Weiser, Kathy (March 2010). "The Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City". Kansas Legends. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 

Further reading[edit]