Step back in time at the Dalton Defenders Day!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It has taken longer I had thought it would to write this post. Every time I get started something comes up. Sorry to have kept you waiting. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

When we made plans to head out and see this great country of ours we were not sure where we would start. The issue was settled for us when we received an E-mail about a job in Kansas. Still, our trip was supposed to be about more than just work it was supposed to be about writing and what is there to write about in Kansas? Aunty Em and tornadoes. One is not real and the other I had hoped not to see.

We posted on Facebook that we were headed to Kansas and a friend of ours told us about something worth going to. It just happened to be in the same town we were going to for work. We were going to see the Dalton Gang.

Not the real Dalton Gang, they have been dead for over a 100 years. But every year in the little town of Coffeyville Kansas the towns folk reenact the shoot-out that brought an end to the infamous bank robbers.

I will not bore you with a history lesson (you can find out all you want to with a quick Google search) but to sum it up a gang of bank robbers planed to rob two banks in Coffeyville but the towns people would have none of that and five of the six desperadoes died that day so did four of the towns defenders.

We had done a little research on the subject before we got there and realized that there was a lot going on for the Dalton day festival. There would be music, shopping, eating contests and all other sorts of festival activities. The thing I was looking forward to the most though was the shoot-out reenactment.       

I had hoped to be in Coffeyville first thing in the morning so we could spend the day and see all that the festival had to offer. Unfortunately we got there late in the day and missed most of the activities. We did get to see the part that I wanted to see the most, the shoot-out. 

When we found our way downtown we had a hard time finding a place to park. It would have been hard in a compact car and driving the Defiant made it even worse. We finally found a spot not far from the town square and the walk gave us a chance to see some of the town. We passed a lot of classic cars and a lot of people in old-timey western wear.

We arrived just in time to see the last reenactment. It was hard to find a place to see the show though as the crowd around the square was thick. It looked like people from all over had made their way to Coffeyville to see the show, and what a show it was.

It started off with a woman who stood in the square to tell the story of what had happened there. Towns folk in costumes walked around as the gunmen took up positions to start the shoot out. Soon the air was filled with smoke and the smell of sulfur as the defenders and the desperadoes began to fight.

The show did not last long but it did make you fell like you were there the day the Dalton gang died. After the show we walked around the town and found our way to a little museum dedicated to the Dalton gang. As much as I enjoyed the show I think I liked the museum even better. It has a cool little mockup of an old western town inside. Though it was no Smithsonian it did make you feel like you went back in time.

After we left the museum we walked around the town and enjoyed the music and the costumes. The town itself felt like it was frozen in time. There was a lot of empty store fronts and you can see that it has fallen a bit in to disrepair. Still the locals were friendly and the place felt safe and warm.

All in all we had a lot of fun that day. I hate I missed the turtle race. If ever I find my self near South-East Kansas in early October I will make sure to stop by Coffeyville to enjoy the Dalton Defenders Days again.


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