Sunday, September 26, 2021

A Wild Wax Show and Another Museum to Boot

Imagine face-to-face encounters with revered and legendary gunslingers like Wild Bill, Calamity Jane, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson and Jesse James. You stare them straight in their unblinking eyes, cautiously minding those gun belts as you do. All is spectrally still and silent as a red sun slowly descends on a hot western horizon.

You need not rely on your imagination for such an evocative experience if you’re passing through Dodge City, Kansas, a justifiably familiar place to any Old West enthusiast or cinephile. Those stoic wild western heroes wait patiently for you to ‘show up for the show-down’ at the Gunfighters Wax Museum which incidentally lies within another worthwhile visitors attraction- the Kansas Teachers’ Hall of Fame.

Built by photographer Larry Yost in the 1950s after an inspirational visit to a carnival, the museum was a popular local attraction but was eventually sold and subsequently acquired by the aforementioned Teachers’ Hall of Fame which kept Yost’s museum intact. It has since become something of a relic itself, living on as it does, frozen in time like its historic subjects.

Evil Seeds by Vanessa Morgan (image)
Christopher Robinson is a contributor to 
"Evil Seeds" by Vanessa Morgan.
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As with many wax museums, there are certain obligatory anachronisms. Presidents JFK and LBJ and horror fiends Dracula and the Frankenstein Monster were never gunfighters, at least not to my knowledge. Nevertheless, you’ll find them there, paradoxically posing near a confused Doc Holiday and nervous Dalton Gang.

More appropriately, the James Brothers stand patiently, contemplating a carefully planned bank heist. Sitting Bull looks out across the Kansas skies, possibly reflecting on the fate of the land and his people. Meanwhile, quite a few hands are dealt in interminable poker games with pensive gamblers who will never fold (or win).

The fictitious heroes of Dodge are similarly given the wax treatment in the museum’s Gunsmoke set. Doc, Kitty, and Festus are all present and accounted for. Is somebody missing? Well, maybe he stepped outside for a minute.

Your admission includes entrance to the Teachers’ Hall which was founded by Dodge City’s own Laurence Stanton
whose mission included honoring educators and their commitment to the lives of students in a one-room schoolhouse built in 1917. The actual schoolhouse stands within the hall in its present location and features informative presentations on over 400 honored educators.

Many visitors with no interest in the Teachers’ Hall come to see the museum but find themselves enjoying the other attraction. Conversely, those who go for the teachers will often leave there raving about the western wax figures.

With convenient summer hours (Monday-Saturday, 10am-5pm) and affordable admission fees ($8 adults, $4 for young’uns and free for those 5 years and under), ain’t no excuse not to stop in when you’re passing through the iconic town of Dodge. Call 620-225-7311 or visit:

Step out into the street and you’ll be faced down by (Oh, there he is) Matt Dillon himself— or a realistic bronze statue of the famed TV Marshal, anyway. Right behind him you’ll find the Boot Hill Museum, a complex of Wild West artifacts and exhibits featuring a replica of the notorious ‘Front Street’ with real shops and attractions where you’ll “relive the legend.”

Appropriately named for the real Boot Hill Cemetery that originally stood on the site, the ghosts of doomed outlaws who ‘died with their boots on’ are sure to haunt the town’s dusty timeless streets. From there, of course, you can enter the museum to see and learn a heap more.

Inside you’ll discover engrossing exhibits such as the ‘People of the Plains’ and ‘Hollywood and the Wild West’ which replicates a living room from the 1960’s complete with a TV set playing (of course) Gunsmoke. Alongside is an array of various memorabilia including the dress which Amanda Blake wore in countless color episodes in addition to Glenn Strange’s barkeep vest.

You’ll also want to make an early reservation for the Variety Show and Country-Style dinner (included in the purchase of a ‘Marshal Pass’). Shoot-outs, singing and Can-Can girls are all there along with sarsaparillas and mmm... homemade fudge to top it off (Okay, maybe all that ‘grit’ stuff isn’t quite so ‘true’ after all).

Regularly scheduled events like the upcoming Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony help celebrate the Old West’s heritage and spirit. The event, scheduled for this November 13th, will begin at 7PM and is currently accepting applications for nominations.

The museum is open seven days a week with slightly shorter hours in effect after Labor Day. General Admission “Deputy” Passes are available at the (gift shop) door but Marshal Passes are recommended to be purchased by reservation: Call 620-227-8188, or

That should be enough to keep all you cowboys, cowgirls, vaqueros and gauchos occupied for a spell. Have some fun and tell ‘em the folks at WMD sent ya. Happy trails!
Chris’s Wax Museum Flashback: Click Here!

About the Author

Christopher Robinson is a writer, filmmaker and musician in New Jersey who has contributed to several magazines and websites.

Robinson also worked as a cameraman, videographer, cable access TV host, teacher and producer. He scripted and produced commercial videos as well as cable television programs for local consumption.

For more info about Christopher, click here.
To view his personal WebLog, click here.

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