It's hard to image, but at one time you could live in or near Dodge City and be an hour ahead or behind your closest neighbor.

Before 1883, it was more confusing than that as each town and city in the U.S. and Canada, including Dodge City, had its own time based on the position of the sun. When the sun was at its zenith at a location - its highest in the sky - it was noon at that location.

Most municipalities maintained their time with a well-known and easily accessible clock. A church tower, the courthouse or a clock in the jeweler's window sufficed. Telegraph lines set up along the railroads ensured all the depots had all the other depots' correct times.

Every depot having its own separate time was confusing for both railroad passengers and employees. By the 1880's, the railroad companies developed a compromise which whittled down the more than 300 local times across the U.S. to a mere 100.

On Nov. 18, 1883 the railroads, which found coordinating 100 separate times difficult, established four time zones in the continental United States and Canada. Global standardization of time, based on the zero meridian which passed north-south through Greenwich, England, began in 1884.

The original plan was to have one worldwide time zone. Nearly everyone's daily activities are based on the position of the sun, so this never happened.

Since there are 24 hours in a day worldwide, there are basically 24 time zones in the world, each of which usually encompass about 15 degrees of longitude. There are a few exceptions; China which spans across more than 60 degrees has only time zone and a few countries offset their times 30 or 45 minutes past the hour.

Dodge City sits squarely on the 100th meridian which put the arbitrary boundary between the Central and Mountain time zones through Dodge City.

In the 1880's, two clocks, one with each time, were on display in the depot. Today, outside Dodge City's train depot are two sundials; one displays Central Time the other Mountain.

Even after 1883, not all used the new standard time system. People slowly accepted the new system because of its practicality. The Standard Time Act of 1918, established time zones making them federal law.

Starting in 1919, the Interstate Commerce Commission had authority over time zone boundaries. When Congress created the U.S. Department of Transportation in 1966, it transferred this authority to them.

Today time zone boundaries are rarely drawn straight along the meridians. If they were, they would divide municipalities and urban areas into different time zones causing confusion.

With government approval, time zone boundaries have shifted over time for the "convenience of commerce." Generally, shifts have been to the west. This is way Dodge City citizens don't have to cope with businesses and acquaintances being in two time zones.

With the exception of World Wars I and II, daylight saving time was a local matter. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 made daylight saving time nationwide with a few exceptions.