The Newton Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting for a new historical marker on Wednesday.
The double-sided sign, which is similar to others placed around Newton, is located alongside the parking lot west of Community National Bank at 127 N. Main St.
The historical marker, with the title "Newton's Cowboy Era," details how the city was formed from a mixture of cowboys, business owners and farmers.
Ken Knepper, president-elect of the Newton Chamber of Commerce board of directors, remarked how the sign informs viewers of the "lawlessness" of the city's early days.
"That was the root of who we are today and how we got our start," Knepper said.
One notable event evidencing the city's lawlessness was a shootout occurring in August 1871 at Perry Tuttle's dance hall. Dubbed the "Newton Massacre," it left an estimated five men dead.
Harvey County Historical Museum Curator Kris Schmucker said visitors coming to Newton often ask where that infamous incident took place
"We get a lot of people asking us where it is, so this is a lot handier to give them direction," Schmucker said.
"This is a pretty important event in the history of Newton, as I understand it," said Vincent Minter, president of Community National Bank in Newton. "It was really the catalyst for a change in the evolution and development of our community into the peaceful and prosperous city we are today."
Jim Gray of the National Drovers Hall of Fame in Ellsworth, noted how the Santa Fe railroad was integral to Newton's growth.
"By 1870, Santa Fe was building to the southwest and had gotten out of Emporia, coming toward Walton," Gray said. "It was not a done deal that they were going to come to this location. Wichita had been lobbying with them pretty hard to get them to turn south from Walton."
Wichita's efforts failed because Santa Fe wanted to get into the cattle business by intersecting with the Chisholm Trail coming through Newton.
Cowboy George Saunders referred to Newton as 'a miracle on the plains' because of its rapid growth.
"He said it was like magic; that the town had just exploded into existence," Gray said.
Hannah Thompson, Harvey County Historical Museum director, thanked the volunteers and museum staff involved in the creation of the sign, including Kris Schmucker, Jane Jones and Ron Dietzel.
"This is a really important part of the history of Newton," Gray said. "...Along the Chisholm Trail, there are only a handful of towns that can claim this kind of history, and Newton is one of them."
For more information about Newton's history, visit the Harvey County Historical Museum at 203 N. Main St. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and is also open the same hours on the first and third Saturday of each month.