Relive the Old West Legend of Dodge City Through Exhibits, Education and Entertainment.

Museum Accepting Proposals for Exhibit Designer and Fabricator

Request for ProposalMarch 28, 2018

Request for Proposal (RFP)

Exhibit Designer and Fabricator for Expansion Exhibits


Approximate Project Value: $1,000,000

The budget range includes design, labor, materials and installation

Time Frame: Spring 2018-Fall 2019


Boot Hill Museum, Inc. is soliciting RFP’s from museum designers and contractors interested in designing and fabricating eight exhibits and a theatre in the Museum’s new STAR Bond Expansion. The expansion will include approximately 5,000 square feet of permanent exhibit space. Boot Hill Museum intends to develop engaging, educational and content-rich interactive exhibits that will display the significance of Dodge City’s rich history.


A successful proposal will reflect the authentic feel and look of Boot Hill Museums current exhibits and Front Street Replica. Components of the exhibits will be installed on a semi-permanent basis, and high marks will be given to proposals that consider durability, safety and ease of maintenance and repair.


Exhibit elements will include:



For thousands of years, the Plains Indian tribes roamed the Kansas prairies following the herds of buffalo. There was estimated to be 6 million buffalo prior to settlement. The buffalo was the economic foundation for Plains Indian life. It figured prominently in religious ceremonies, ingrained in the culture and was a source of independence and prosperity for its people.  Wooden Leg remembered the days of his youth hunting buffalo, “As I now think back upon those days, it seems that no people in the world ever were any richer than we were.”


The People of the Plains exhibit will introduce the tribes of the Plains Indians and allow visitors to hear the words of their leaders, Satanta, Quanah Parker and Spotted Tail. Lighting and music from the Native American Flute will allow visitors to experience the way of life on the Kansas prairie. Many artifacts from the tribes will be featured including a tipi, and many tools of the women and children. Interactive tools and instruments will show young and old alike the jobs and lifestyle of the nomadic people.




The flags of five different countries and republics of Spain, France, Mexico, The Republic of Texas and the United States flew over the region. Juan Jaramillo kept a journal of the quest of Coronado for the Cities of Gold and reported, “a country of fine appearance the like of which I have never seen anywhere in our Spain, in Italy, or any part of France…” In 1821, William Becknell proved to the nation the value of trade in the area when he established the Santa Fe Trail.  Following the Civil War, interest in the plains and Manifest Destiny and an economic depression in the east allowed the establishment of trade and eventually Fort Dodge, setting the stage for Dodge City.

Guests will enter the Time of Many Flags under the nations flags that once flew over our area. The accounts of the explorers who first came to the region will be told, and life on the Santa Fe Trail will be conveyed. A Fort Dodge façade along with artifacts will be displayed that will present the story of the safety and protection of traders, hunters and settlers in our region by some of the most notable names in the Army, Custer and Sherman. Some of Dodge City’s prominent citizen stories begin at Fort Dodge. Sutler, Anthony, Wright and Rath’s experiences will begin here, and will continue to be told throughout the museum.



As the steel rails of the railroad grew closer each day, more and more hunters, traders, merchants and adventurers entered the area west of Fort Dodge.  Whiskey, women, guns and groceries were the most requested items that Fort Dodge could not and would not supply for the new arrivals.  Colonel Richard Dodge was especially against the sale of whiskey at his fort and outlawed it within 5 miles of his borders. Upon hearing this, George M. Hoover living in Ellsworth, set out for Kansas City where he loaded a wagon full of whiskey and cigars and headed for Southwest Kansas. Upon arriving at Fort Dodge, he tied a rag around the wheel of his wagon and roughly measured out 5 miles. There he set up his tent and began selling his whiskey out of his wagon for $.25 a ladle full, and Dodge City was born!

Guests will experience Hoover’s tent first hand, as they walk past the wagon wheel with the rag tied to it. The bar Hoover set up on piled sod to serve the first barrels of whiskey to the soldiers, hunters, traders and railroad workers will declare Dodge City open for business. This exhibit is just the beginning of Hoover’s story in the town he lived in for the rest of his life and loved. He became one of the young town’s most important citizens, and one of its most generous.  He left $100,000 of his estate to the city declaring, “I made my money here, I’m going to leave it here.”



The buffalo hunters; hordes of men with their big guns and bigger dreams descended on the unsuspecting herds of buffalo. They stood little chance, even against the early parties of disorganized hunters. New techniques in tanning hides created a large demand, along with the push of the railroad west made possible what seemed to be enormous profits for those laborers from the east to kill as many buffalo as they could and harvest the hides.  “Business was good, but Dodge City would experience desperate and troubling times. The hunters and others attracted to the place for rest and amusement, soon created an atmosphere that made the very name Dodge City a catchphrase for bloodshed and anarchy on the Kansas frontier.” William Schillenberg, Dodge City.

The Buffalo exhibit has long been a favorite among the many school kids that visit the museum every year.  Children and other visitors will be given a taste of what a herd of buffalo may have looked and felt like as the floor vibrates below them while screens play simultaneously above. A taxidermy buffalo diorama reveals the large size and volume of the distinguished animal. The extent of the buffalo hunt will be on display with pictures of the massive mound of buffalo skulls and stacks of hides from the museum’s archives.



Cyrus K. Holliday had the vision of creating a railroad line that followed the Santa Fe Trail, which began construction in 1868. It took until the fall of 1872 for it to reach Dodge City. Those on the railroad crews included Civil War veterans, Irish immigrants, disillusioned farm boys and small-town clerks all seeking excitement. This group also included a set of brothers, James and William Masterson, who worked as surveyors for the railroad. They would settle in Dodge City, and be joined by their brother Edward, where they would remain for the first era of the rough town. The railroad added a level of convenience to the area, to receive and export, as well as support a new lifestyle not afforded before.

Boot Hill Museum has an extensive collection from the railroad in Dodge City. Many items have never been on display before and will be featured here. That Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad was an important part of Dodge City, as well as the Harvey House that was later constructed here. Items from the Harvey House as well as the story of his fame and success will be featured.



At the close of the Civil War, the country was left in a great depression, the likes that had never been seen before.  An overabundance of longhorn cattle in Texas put more strain on an already struggling market. Soon after the railroad arrived in Dodge City, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad started building stockyards on the south side of their tracks, to attract the Texas trail drivers to Dodge City. During the years that cattle would be brought up the Great Western Cattle Trail, an estimated 10 to 12 million animals were driven up the trail.  The life of the cowboy was just as unique as the animals they took charge of. Often times lonely and poor, but also very rewarding, it was described best by the Cowboy’s Mantra: “Few cowboys ever owned much. The primary reward of being a cowboy was the pleasure of living a cowboy’s life.”

Dodge City’s livelihood, then and now has been based on the cattle trade. This exhibit will reflect both our past and our future of livestock by telling about its roots. A taxidermy longhorn will be the centerpiece and will tell of this unique breed of animal, which will appeal to all ages. Life on the trail of the cowboy will be told by Boot Hill Museum’s collection that includes a chuck wagon, barb wire, brands and Chalkley Beeson’s personal items from his C.O.D. ranch. Young and old alike will be able to not only learn about life on the Great Western Cattle Trail but will be able to relive it as well.



Imagine coming off the cattle trail after spending three to four months in the saddle, in need of a shower and shave, pocket full of money. As you’re heading north, you see the mile-wide Arkansas River and its toll bridge and just beyond lies the Queen of the Cow towns, the Bibulous Babylon of the Frontier, Dodge City.  During this heyday of Dodge City, residents held more money per capita than New York City. They had the finest clothes and belongings and dined on fresh seafood that arrived daily on the railroad. The men who brought their women west made sure they continued to live the Victorian lavish lifestyles they were accustomed to.


The Heyday Exhibit will feature the extensive collection of clothing and finery from the wealthiest era of Dodge City. It’s hard to fathom just how much money was filtering through Dodge City during this time period. The lifestyle they lived, was rivaled only to those in New York City, which for a country still trying to recover from the Civil War and a depression, was rare. The 4thof July Celebration of 1884 is a perfect example of the excess the citizens of Dodge City experienced. Spanish Bullfighters were brought in for an authentic, albeit illegal, Spanish Bullfight.  The businesses and people of Dodge City knew that catering to the drovers was the key to their success and lived it to the fullest.



All good parties must come to an end, and the same can be said of the wild days of Dodge City. The unique story of Dodge City, even today, has been its ability to always reinvent itself to survive. It started out supported by the Buffalo hunt, then the end of the trail for the cattle drives, and as that era came to an end, Dodge City’s story was just beginning. The 1880’s brought about many significant occurrences. The Front Street Buildings, mainly wood frame structures, would succumb to fire. They would be rebuilt, with brick, but would leave the days of old, but a memory.  Once the cattle drives came to an end, the days of the cattle rancher would begin. Many of the men who made their living from the bars and dance halls of Front Street would start herding cattle as opposed to cowboys.  They married, settled down, and began attending church with their wives and children. Agriculture became important during this time, as more and more of the land started to be claimed, settled and cultivated. Many feels that this was the end of the story for Dodge City, but to those of us here, it’s just the beginning.


The Front Street Replica today stands as a reminder of what once was. The story of why our buildings are replicas will be told, and the demise of those buildings to fire. The blizzards of 1884 and 1885 devastated most of the ranchers in our area. The loss of cattle and income not only affected the cattlemen, but the community as a whole.  This would help boost the need to find other incomes, such as agriculture, which through Boot Hill Museum’s collection of miniature tools and models will be displayed. Many of the founding fathers and characters of early Dodge City remained here the rest of their life. “The history of the West has been a mother lode of entertainment riches, and the name, Dodge City, is its touchstone.” Fred Young, Dodge City; Up Through a Century in Story and Pictures.


Proposal Requirements:

Response should include, but is not limited to the following information:

  1. Resume
  2. Background, history and project experience.
  3. Describe organizational approach.
  4. Describe how you would address the following:
    1. Design and Work Plan Strategy
    2. Onsite Project Management Approach
    3. Progress Meetings
    4. Cost Estimating
    5. Scheduling
  5. Outline of proposed fee schedule.
  6. Identify and describe any sub-contractors (sub-consultants) that will be used.
  7. Provide client references.
  8. Provide examples of work of completed projects.
  9. Describe any experience working with projects of this nature.
  10. Describe any relevant experience with integrated design or design charrette.


Firms are permitted to schedule a pre-bid meeting and walk-through to discuss any specifics of the RFP and existing design documents.  Please contact Executive Director Lara Brehm at director@boothill.orgor 620-227-8188 to schedule a pre-bid meeting.


Deliver or send one original and six copies of your proposal to be received in our office no later than 5:00PM CST on Friday April 27, 2018.  Proposals received after that time will not be opened or reviewed.  Proposals shall be in a sealed package with the submitting firm’s name and “Proposal” clearly noted on the cover of the package.


Receipt of RFP’s: April 27, 2018

Review and selection of qualified applicants: May 11, 2018

Interview top selected applicants: May 14-18, 2018

Final selection of applicants: May 24, 2018


Proposals shall be submitted to:

Lara Brehm, Executive Director
Boot Hill Museum, Inc.
500 W Wyatt Earp Blvd.
Dodge City, KS. 67801
620-227-7673 fax