Wallace, Kansas was about as wild of a western town one could find. Pretty much anything and everything one could think of happening in old wild west happened here.
When the railroad began building from Wyandotte to the Pacific, they created all types of drama. The railroad president was killed, his replacement was murdered in revenge and the road went almost broke. Then they had the first wild cowtown of the west, where a guy by the name of Hicock gained fame. Not only did Wild Bill shoot the yahoos and throw em in hoogscow, he also shot his deputy.
Them there was the guy by the name of Cody who got his name Buffalo Bill. William Cody got a job with the railroad to supply buffalo to the hungry railroad workers.
There were train robberies, Indian battles, saloons, brothels, whiskey galore and all that stuff that goes with it.
A guy by the name of Custer got his taste of frightening Indians along the tracks until he ran away to find his wife.
The people that were following the railroad and building were writing stories for Hollywood’s old west.
Before the railroad could cross into Colorado Territory, it ran out of money. There was a war going on and the Civil War was soaking up funds. So in western Kansas the construction came to as halt. Nearby was Ft Wallace and the Town of Wallace Kansas bloomed at the end of the rails. In 11865 there were estimated to be over 4000 people in town.
Just because there was a war going on over there, did not stop commerce. Supplies to build the railroad continued to be shipped in. There were supplies coming in for the gold fields in the mountains. The Santa Fe trail had shifted north to transfer merchandise onto the trains for east shipment and the stage to Denver began here. There were muleskinners, teamsters, laborers, merchants and other workers. Throw into the mix the soldiers from the fort and there was good mixture for a boiling helltown.
Put a plank across a couple of whiskey barrels in a tent and one had a saloon. Nearby were the houses of the evening. There were the stores, banks, freight houses and a few homes.
Rough and tumble was the mode of the day at the end of the tracks. There were shootings, fights, brawls and thievery of all types. A merchant received a shipment of rope. A local pundit made the remark that hopefully it would find uses for some of the sluggards hanging around town. Down at the bridge would be a good place to string a few of em up, he noted.
With the end of the war, the Kansas Pacific Railway got construction money again. The end of the tracks began moving westward again and HellTown went on to Kit Carson, CO.
With the end of the tracks gone, Wallace began to shrink and today there are few hearty people that still live in town. The business of downtown are closed, the storefronts are empty but the humor of the street name still stands very prominent. Not many people turn off the Interstate any to see places like this. Nearby is the Ft Wallace Museum. They also have a restored stage station, a home station on the BOD stage line. There is also the military cemetery.
The town has some neat old buildings and its fun to wander the streets, looking, listening to the breezes of other days echo with the passing tumble weeds.