How did Bart get to King City?




By early September of 1872, Bart Maverick was regaining his footing after the events of "Diamond in the Rough."[1] He was likely trying to put the heartbreak of losing Henriette de Colbert behind him by getting far away from San Francisco.[2] Leaving the city with $17,000 in his pocket,[1] Bart would likely have traveled east as swiftly and comfortably as possible, by train. The Central Pacific Railroad would have carried him across California, through Nevada and the Utah Territory, and into Wyoming Territory.[2]


Since "Brasada Spur" seems to have found Bart in Kansas, something must have taken him along a more southerly transcontinental route. It is likely, then, that the lure of the big poker games in Denver would have provided him with a change in course. From Cheyenne, Wyoming, Bart could have taken the Denver Pacific Railway into Denver. from there, the Kansas Pacific Railroad could have carried him eastward.[2]





By the time Bart Maverick reached Junction City, Kansas, he must have decided to try his luck in the state's booming rail town to the south, King City. A burgeoning gambling center in such a remote area as 1872's southern Kansas could have attracted any Maverick's attention.[2]

The King City of "Brasada Spur," boasting seven gambling halls, and even a race track, and well over two hundred miles from Junction City by rail,
[3] could not have been today's actual ghost town of the same name in Kansas' McPherson County. Having only been founded a year earlier, without even a post office to officiate its name, McPherson's King City was little more than a tent community,[4] and was also less than a hundred miles from Junction City,[5] much too close for the episode's train-duel finale.[3]


Where, then, was Maverick's King City?


We know King City was situated in a state, rather than a U. S. territory, due to the barber's comment to Bart that the town hosts "the biggest poker game in the state." We know that state was not Texas, since Belle Morgan later remarked to Bart that "You can see farther in Texas, Colonel Maverick, but you can't see as much."[3] Contextual information in the story placed it somewhere south of Junction City on the "transcontinental line." Since Junction City, Kansas, exists today — as it did in 1872 — on the original Kansas Pacific route, we can confidently place our story in Kansas.[2]


With that determined, King City could not have been any further south than Kansas' Fifth Standard Parallel or any further west than its First Guide Meridian West, as designated in the President's message to the thirty-fourth Congress. Only the area north and east of these lines had been surveyed as public lands for settlement early enough for King City to have been founded sometime in the years following the Civil War. At that time, lands to the south and west were still ceded to the Cheyenne, Arapaho and Osage Indians.[4]


King City would have had to have been situated far enough from Junction City to allow for over 200 miles of track between Chaseville, its neighbor to the north and Brasada Pass, Junction City's neighbor to the south.[3] With that contextual requirement and the map shown in the Brasada Spur's depot office (acknowledging the map must not have been to scale), we surmise that King City must have been in the southwest-most public land available in late-1860s Kansas. That would have placed it in Reno County, just south of modern-day Hutchinson.[2]


This location is also consistent with being near the route of the Chisholm Trail,[7] a fitting venue for a railhead to ship the cattle herds coming up from Texas to market. South-central Kansas, then, is the mostly likely location for the story's King City.[2]


01. Maverick, Diamond in the Rough (1958), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.

02. The Conjectural Maverick, Maverick Trails

03. Maverick, Brasada Spur (1959), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.

04. History of the State of Kansas (1883); William G. Cutler; A. T. Andreas, Chicago, Illinois

05. King City township, McPherson County, Kansas; (retrieved July 3, 2016)

06. Railroads; Oklahoma Historical Society (retrieved July 3, 2016)

07. The Chisholm Trail: A History of the World's Greatest Cattle Trail (October 3, 2013); Sam P. Ridings; Literary Licensing, LLC


Bart Maverick's trail

from San Francisco
to King City

August 20 – 27, 1872

Bart Maverick's trail

between King City
and Chicago

September 4 – 14, 1872

Bart Maverick and Belle Morgan's trail from King City to St. Louis, en route to New Orleans.

September 28 – 30, 1872

Bart Maverick and
Belle Morgan's trail

from St. Louis, en route
to New Orleans.

October 1 – 5, 1872



After Bart Maverick "won" his stock in Brasada Spur, he schemed with the railroad's president, Roy Stafford, to get his impounded $13,000 back from Belle Morgan. To do so, he traveled to Chicago to set the bait for Belle's conspirators. He took the Brasada Spur north to Junction City[3] and from there, would have continued on the Kansas Pacific Railroad to Kansas City, and from there to Chicago, probably on the Burlington & Missouri and Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroads, returning to King City along the same route.[2]




At the
Brasada Spur's Chaseville station, Bart Maverick gathered railroad men and local ranchers to board the train and race to confront another train, commandeered by Great Western men, traveling south along the line from Junction City. They left Chaseville just as they received word the oncoming train had just hit the station at Brasada Pass, more than 200 miles away.[3] Therefore, the route must stretch to allow for such distances and still be true to the story's content:[2]

King City, the Brasada Spur's southern railhead, we surmise the route would have traveled northwest to Fort Zarah, 57 miles away. From there, the route traveled eastward along the well-established Santa Fe Trail to McPherson, Kansas, and continuing east to Emporia. The line then traveled northward, paralleling the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad into Junction City. With Chaseville to the north of King City and Brasada Pass south of Junction City, this route covers 205 miles between the two stations, with an overall distance of 250 rail miles between the two terminals.[2]





Once he was able to reclaim his $13,000 from Belle Morgan, Bart Maverick was determined to move on to New Orleans. He took the Brasada Spur north again to Junction City,[3] then likely eastward on the Kansas Pacific to St. Louis.[2] Having been joined by Belle Morgan en route,[3] we might imagine she and Bart would have cruised down the Mississippi River, enjoying the romance — not to mention the gambling opportunities — of steamboat travel.[2]



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