Dogtown and Dobytown

“Beginning in 1858 there were two famous—or infamous—appendages of Fort Kearny, primitive communities which supplied vital needs for civilians and soldiers alike. Eight miles to the east, just off the reservation line, was Valley City, or Dogtown. Just beyond the western line, two miles away and therefore a much bigger and livelier place, was Kearney City, or Dobytown. . . .

Monthly mail between Independence, Missouri, and Salt Lake City, Utah, began in the summer of 1850. In 1858 mail service went on a weekly basis, and with this began the systematic transportation of passengers, first by mail wagon, later by the famous Concord coaches. To facilitate this service, the company built stage stations at intervals of town or twelve miles. This was the actual beginning of Valley City and Kearney City. The former was related to a ‘swing station’ where horses were changed; the latter evolved from a ‘home station’ where drivers were changed and meals offered the passengers. . . .

The Pony Express of 1860-1861, operated by Russell, Majors & Waddell, of freighting fame, shared most of its stations with the Holladay company along the main Platte; accordingly, there were Pony Express stations at Valley City and in the Fort Kearny vicinity. Contrary to widespread impression, the Pony Express riders did not gallop up to Moses Sydenham’s sod [sutler] post near the Fort Kearny parade ground; they kept right on going to the log station west of the fort, and mail by stage or Pony Express was carried back to the fort from there.”