The popular TV show Gunsmoke is credited for the term “get out of Dodge,” but the phrase actually has a more colorful and interesting history.
It all started in the little town of Sidney, Nebraska. The town once had such a bad reputation it was called Sinful Sidney and the Wickedest Town in the West. Is there small wonder that they buried their dead in what was called the “Bad Man’s Cemetery?”
200 murderers, robbers and the like were buried there and those were just the ones who got caught. There were numerous lynchings, including one cowboy who somehow managed to get lynched twice. Sidney created so much news it had three newspapers.
In 1880, a robbery to end all robberies occurred and what today would amount to five million dollars was
stolen. Things were so bad that the Union Pacific railroad threatened to pull out stakes if something wasn’t done to curb crime. In an attempt to clean up the town, an edict was issued which told the bad guys to “Get out of Sidney, forever.”
Since the edict was issued on April 1, some outlaws thought it was an April Fools joke. A hanging from the tree in front of the courthouse soon relieved them of that notion.
Reportedly over 200 thugs fled town. Word spread and soon other towns, including Dodge City, used Sidney’s crime-ridding blueprint to clear out their own criminals. Now you know the true story of “Get out of Dodge” and that’s no joke.
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