I n February 1878, James R. Fulton, William D. Fulton and W.D.’s son, L. W. Fulton, arrived at the present site of Garden City. The land was a loose, sandy loam, and covered with sagebrush and soap weeds and but there were no trees. Main Street ran directly north and south, dividing William D. and James R. Fulton’s claims. As soon as they could get building material, they erected two frame houses. William D. Fulton building on his land, on the east side of Main Street, a house one story and a half high, with two rooms on the ground and two rooms above. This was called the Occidental Hotel. William D. Fulton was proprietor. No other houses were built in Garden City until November 1878, when James R. Fulton and L. T. Walker each put up a building. Now you can take a walking tour of some of the original founder’s family homes, still standing in Garden City. A fitting tribute to their hard work and dedication in establishing town.
Charles Jesse Jones, later known as “Buffalo” Jones, came to Garden City for an antelope hunt in January 1879. Before Jones returned home, the Fulton brothers procured his services to promote Garden City, and especially in trying to influence the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad to put in a switch station. The railroad agreed to place its station at Garden City. In the spring of 1879, more people began coming to homestead in the area. During the years of 1885-1887, you can still see the the building on the corner of Main and Grant street that he erected of white stone quarried in Kendal,Ks. you may also see his homestead still in its original location at 515 N. 9th St. The United States Land Office also located at Garden City, and people came there to make filings on their land. Lawyers also arrived in Garden City. I. R. Holmes, the agent for the sale of lands of the ATSF, and Holmes’s partner, A. C. McKeever, in 1885 sold thousands of acres of railroad and private land.
The streets of Garden City were crowded with horses, wagons, buggies, and ox teams. Long lines of people stood out in the weather awaiting mail at the post office, and there was always a crowd in front of the land office. During the height of the boom the town had nine lumber yards. Lumber was hauled in all directions to build up inland towns, and to improve the nearby homesteads. Thirteen drug stores were in operation. The town had two daily newspapers. Nearly everyone used kerosene lamps, and a few were placed on posts on Main Street. There was no city water works; so all depended on shallow wells, which were strong of alkali. Passenger trains of two and three sections arrived daily, loaded with people, most of who got off at Garden City.
The first issue of “The Garden City Newspaper” appeared April 3, 1879. Three months after the paper was established, the editor stated, “There are now forty buildings in town.” When the first telephone line was built, trees were growing on both sides of Main Street. These interfered with the wires, but local residents knew the value of trees in Western Kansas would not allow them to be cut, and the telephone poles were set down the center of the street. The first long distance telephone service from Garden City was a line nine miles (14 km) long built in 1902.