The United State's first national monument's name is based on a description given by this Dodge City founder.
Richard Irving Dodge was born in Huntsville, North Carolina on May 19, 1827. In 1844 he entered service to the U.S. Army as a cadet. His entire military career was with the Infantry.
Upon receiving his commission in 1848, he served with the U.S. Infantry Regiment until 1855, eventually serving as its Adjutant. Until 1869, he served with the 12th and then the 30th U.S Infantry Regiments.
While serving with the 3rd Infantry Regiment he was Fort Dodge's commander. He was in command of Fort Dodge in 1872 during the founding of Dodge City.
Richard Dodge arrived to Fort Dodge well after its establishment, so we know the Fort was not named after him. Who the Fort is named for remains controversial, but researchers have determined Fort Dodge was named either after Henry Dodge, for whom Fort Dodge Iowa was named, or, more likely, for Grenville Dodge who directed Fort Dodge be established in Kansas.
Colonel Dodge was strict. When he discovered a lieutenant drinking alcohol with a group of enlisted men, he chastised him and his soldiers about this serious breach of military etiquette. In response, the angry lieutenant knocked Dodge to the floor.
This was the impetus for Colonel Dodge banning the sale and distribution of alcohol to all enlisted and civilians at Fort Dodge.
Enterprising businessmen responded to this prohibition by setting up saloons and dance halls just outside the boundaries of the Fort Dodge military reservation - right where downtown Dodge City sits today. Stores and other business soon followed.
The arrival of the railroad in Sept. 1872 added to the surge of entrepreneurial activity.
As can be expected, things got out of hand in the new city. Despite all the debauchery and violence, Richard Dodge got in on the act as a charter member of the Dodge City Town Company and he encouraged many of the Fort's junior officers to buy town lots.
Many believe the town of Dodge City was named for Richard Dodge. Supposedly, he confided to early settler Robert M. Wright the town was indeed named for him. Wright later told this confession to historical writer Heinie Schmidt.
In 1873, Colonel Dodge left Fort Dodge, to serve in the 23rd U.S. Infantry Regiment. While with the 23rd, he led survey parties throughout the west.
In 1875, Richard Dodge surveyed a large butte in Wyoming the Native Americans referred to as "Bear Lodge Butte."
On Sept. 24, 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt declared the butte the nation's first national monument and named it "Devil's Tower" based on Dodge's description.
In his proclamation Roosevelt stated, "In 1875 Lieutenant Colonel Richard Irving Dodge described the tower as 'An immense obelisk of granite....Its summit is inaccessible to anything without wings. The sides are fluted and scored by the action of the elements, and immense blocks of granite, split off from the column by frost, are piled in huge, irregular mounds about its base'."
However, the name Devil's Tower is still controversial, especially for American Indians.
In 1881 and 1882, Richard Dodge served as Aide-de-Camp to famous Civil War General, William T. Sherman. Dodge's last post was commander of the 11th U.S. Infantry Regiment.
Just five years after retiring from the Army, Richard Irving Dodge died on June 16, 1895 in Sacketts Harbor, New York at the age of 68. He is now interred, alongside his wife Julia who died in 1926, in Arlington Cemetery outside Washington, D.C.