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Next Time, Try Power-Touring.

An interesting feature for a visit to Dodge City is the re-creation of what I guess would have been Main Street, circa 1885. In the summer, they have college kids dressed as gun-slingers wandering around to provide a little atmosphere.

Several years ago, I interrupted a cross-country ride on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief to hop off for a 24-hour look at Dodge City, Kansas. It was something I had wanted to do for some time. The Chief, you see, gets to Dodge City right around dawn . . . which is right around the time I’m waking up. 

On several early mornings over a number of years, as a passenger on the Chief, I’ve opened my eyes, gathered my wits and—wondering why we weren’t moving—raised up on an elbow and peered out the window. . . to discover were were sitting in the station at Dodge City, Kansas. 

On each of those occasions, as we started moving and were gathering speed, I could see a weathered wooden sign indicating the direction to Boot Hill, the cemetery where a host of would-be gunslingers are buried.

That’s where the idea for a power-visit was born. Why not structure my Amtrak ticket to include a one-day visit in a town like Dodge City  . . . where 24 hours would probably be enough time to check out the main attractions and if not, well,  I could always come back.

And so, on my very next trip to the East Coast—It was to a Spring meeting of the Rail Passengers Association—I made a stop in Dodge City on my way back.

I do think the concept of a 24-hour stopover is—for me, anyway—a good idea. It was just right for Dodge City and I’d like to do it again. (I’m thinking of Alpine, Texas, for the next one.) 

Actually, I did try it a second time . . . in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. I enjoyed that visit, but I’ll admit that a second night there would have been a better plan. There’s enough to see and do for a 48-hour visit.

The only downside to the idea is your total rail fare will be a little more because of the stopover. 

Well, actually, there is another potential issue with this concept. If, for some reason, you  wanted to spend 24 hours in Fargo, North Dakota, the westbound Empire Builder isn’t due there until 3:24 in the morning. Changing directions won’t help because the eastbound train gets there at 2:18 a.m.

Well, OK . . . nothing’s perfect. 

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