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         Notes from Archie:
   Some researchers contend that the Chisholm Trail began at the Mexican border near present-day Brownsville.   As a matter of fact, some cattle driven to Kansas were actually purchased or rustled from Mexican ranches.
   The trail collected herds from far-south Texas;  from Karnes, DeWitt, Lavaca, and Wharton counties in the southeast;  and from numerous other counties to the north and west of San Antonio.
   From Fort Worth the trail headed almost straight north, crossing the Red River at Red River Station.   Once in the Indian Nation Territory, the trail passed through the settlements of  Rush Springs,  Kingfisher,  and Hennessy, and on through to Kansas.
   Abilene was a hamlet of 12 red roofed cabins when Joseph McCoy first arrived in 1867.    McCoy, a Chicago cattle dealer, immediately recognized the potential of the town as a cattle center.   He negotiated with the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad for better rates for cars and service, and he built cattle holding pens.   He sent circulars south informing Texas drovers that the Chisholm Trail was the best route for them to follow north.   His circulars promised more prairie, more grass, more water, less timber, and fewer Indians.   His promises convinced enough cattlemen to head their herds north on the Chisholm Trail to Abilene.    Approximately 75,000 cattle were trailed to Abilene in 1868, and that swelled to 350,000 by 1869.   Abilene became the the largest of the cowtowns on the Chisholm Trail.
    It is thought that in the five years from 1867 to 1872, an estimated three million head of cattle were driven up the Chisholm Trail from Texas to Abilene, to the Union Pacific (later the Kansas Pacific) Railroad shipping center.
   By 1871 as many as 5,000 cowboys were often paid off during a single day.   Abilene became known as a rough town in the West.

   The major shipping towns are listed below, in an attempt at a chronological order. The peak year at some locations is shown in parentheses:
  1   Baxter Springs 1867-(1872)-1879     
SE corner of Kansas, toward Missouri.
  2   Chetopa 1869-(1871)-1874                  
SE corner of Kansas, toward Missouri.
  3   Coffeyville 1869-(1873)-1873    
SE corner of Kansas, toward Missouri.    These three towns were on the earlier Shawnee Trail, which fed the market in Missouri.
  4   Abilene 1867-(1871)-1871
   On the Union-Pacific Eastern Div.RR, changed name to Kansas-Pacific RR line.  The K-P Railroad consolidated with the Union Pacific in 1880.    1871 was the last big year for cattle in Abilene.
  5    Hays
and Ellis 1867-1877  On the Union-Pacific Eastern Div. RR, changed name to Kansas-Pacific RR line.  The K-P Railroad consolidated with the Union Pacific in 1880.   A deadline was established west of Ellis in 1877.
  6   Waterville 1868-1869  North of Abilene.
  7   Junction City 1869-1870   
On the Kansas-Pacific (Union Pacific) RR line, east of Abilene.
  8   Salina 1869-1871      
On the Kansas-Pacific (Union Pacific) RR line.
  9   Solomon 1869-1871
10   Ellsworth 1871-1875   
   On the Kansas-Pacific (Union Pacific) RR line.   When Abilene faded in 1871, Ellsworth became the most active market.   The national financial Panic of 1873 caused a glut of cattle in Ellsworth.   The market could not handle all the Texas cattle.   Thousands of unsold cattle were held on the Kansas range.
11   Brookville 1871 only    
Between Abilene and Ellsworth, on the Kansas-Pacific RR.   For only one year.   
12   Great Bend 1871-1875   
Between Newton and Dodge City, on the Atchison-Topeka-and-Santa-Fe RR.   
13   Newton   1871  
On the Atchison-Topeka-and-Santa-Fe RR.    For only one year, 1871.    Third most southern.
14   Wichita   1870-(1872-1876)-1877    
   Second most southern.
15   Dodge City 1872-(1877 to 1885)-1885   
On the Atchison-Topeka-and-Santa-Fe RR.   Westernmost of all.  The Queen of Cowtowns. The Wickedest Little City in America.  Bat Masterson, Ed Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Bill Tilghman.  Had two Front Sts., one on either side of the RR tracks.  No guns north of the "deadline."  The south side was wide open to anything.
16   Caldwell 1879-(1880)-1885    
Southernmost of all, and the last of the great Railroad-Cattle towns.

   Among minor cattle towns were Grenola, a coined word for Greenfield plus Canola. The two towns were only 6 miles apart.
   Northeast of Wichita were also Cassoday, Matfield Green, Bazar, Cottonwood Falls, and Strong City, all in Chase County.

         Notes from Archie:
   Barbed wire and fenced pastures began to be seen about 1874, so that the crossings on the Red River had to be moved further west.
   Additionally, the citizens of Kansas were getting tired of Texas cowboys and their wild Longhorns.    Texas Longhorns were immune to earthly disease, but carried a tick that brought the Texas Tick Fever, which killed the Kansas dairy cattle and stock cattle.
   Zones of quarantine were established around several specified towns and counties.    Texans and their cattle could not enter into these zones.
   These teenagers and young men were paid off when the cattle were sold.   Having slept on the ground for 85 to 90 days with only one wet blanket, and now having money in their pockets, these cowboys got drunk in the saloons, shot up the towns, got a haircut and a bath, went upstairs to those rooms above the saloon, and generally went wild in Kansas.
   Those who were making money, the railroad men and cattle buyers, simply built other spur railroad lines further south and west to receive the cattle.   Fifteen new towns were built as Railroad-Cattle towns.    Dodge City was the furthest west of these towns, and Caldwell on the Oklahoma line was the furthest south.
   In 1885, the Kansas State Legislature banned all Texas cattle from the entire state of Kansas.
   Some say that the 19 years of storied action on the Chisholm Trail spawned a whole new industry in the next century.    The cowboy picture show.   The western movie.    The "horse opera."  William S. Hart, Tom Mix, Ken Maynard, Hoot Gibson, Hopalong Cassidy, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood.   
    Does anyone out there remember Ken Maynard ? ?

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                                An article by Steven D. Dortch
    In its time, the Chisholm Trail was considered to be one of the wonders of the western world.   Cattle herds as large as ten thousand were driven from Texas over the trail to Kansas.   The trail acquired its name from trader Jesse Chisholm, a part-Cherokee who, just before the Civil War, built a trading post in what is now western Oklahoma City.
    A Delaware Indian scout, Black Beaver, a friend of Chisholm, had led Union soldiers north into Kansas along part of the trail after the federal government abandoned Indian Territory to the Confederates at the beginning of the Civil War.
    During the Civil War, while many Texans were away fighting for the Confederacy, the cattle multiplied, so that by 1866 they were worth only four dollars a head in Texas.    In the North and East, they could be worth forty dollars a head.
    In 1866 some herds traveled the Shawnee Trail in eastern Oklahoma to Missouri, but the woods and the region's rough terrain discouraged trail driving.
    In 1867 Joseph McCoy built stockyards on the Kansas-Pacific railroad in Abilene, Kansas.    He sent men south to encourage Texas cattlemen to send herds to his stockyards.    He also encouraged cattle buyers to come to Abilene where cattle would be waiting.
    Drovers followed assorted minor trails through south and central Texas northward to the Red River crossing, and then joined the Abilene Cattle Trail, which later became famous as the Chisholm Trail.   After being driven north along the Chisholm Trail to Abilene, the cattle were shipped east to the beef packers.
    Herds varied in size from five hundred to ten thousand.    However, they usually averaged around 2,500 to 3,000 head.   A rancher entrusted his herd to a trail boss who would hire ten to fourteen cowboys, a cook and wagon, and a wrangler or horse handler for the 100 to 150 horses.    The trail boss would also provision the wagon and plan the drive.
    On the trail the cattle were watered in the morning and would slowly eat their way northward.   The cowboys kept them from stopping, turning back, or leaving the herd.    The herd would walk about ten miles per day, stopping only to water and eat.    At night the herd would stop at a watering hole and bed down.
    These herds were less than ten miles apart and were spaced so that each herd could spend the night at a watering point.    As a result of this spacing, if any problems occurred, the herds could stack up, and time or cattle might be lost.
    At the Abilene railhead, the trail boss would sell the cattle and horses, pay the cowboys, and return to Texas with the money for the owner, often repeating the trip year after year.
    Eventually the Chisholm Trail would stretch eight hundred miles from South Texas to Fort Worth and on through Oklahoma to Kansas.    The drives headed for Abilene from 1867 to 1871.    Later Newton and Wichita, Kansas became the end of the trail.
    The Cimarron cutoff on the north side of the Cimarron River allowed cattle to be driven to Dodge City, Kansas.
    From 1883 to 1887 herds headed up the trail only as far north as Caldwell, Kansas, making it the last great cow town on the trail.
    The Chisholm Trail crossed from Texas over into Indian Territory at Red River Station, near present Ringgold, Texas, heading north.    Along the way it passed Fleetwood Store, Blue Grove, Reid Store, Old Suggs Camp Ground and Tank, Monument Hill, Old Duncan Store, Cook Brothers Store, and Silver City on the South Canadian River.
    North of Silver City, the trail divided.    The western route, primarily a freight and stage route, curved slightly northwestward and ran through Concho, Fort Reno, Kingfisher Stage Station and northeast.
    The eastern branch, used primarily for cattle, left Silver City, curved slightly northeastward, passed west of present day Mustang, crossed through Yukon, and passed to the west of Piedmont, crossing the Cimarron where Kingfisher Creek joins that river.    The eastern trail rejoined the western trail at Red Fork Ranch, or Dover Stage Stand, now the town of Dover.
    North of Dover the trail passed by Buffalo Springs Stage Station (near present day Bison), Skeleton Ranch (near Enid), Sewell's Ranch (near Jefferson), and Lone Tree (near Renfrow), before heading into Kansas south of Caldwell.
    The biggest cattle trailing years were 1871 and 1873.    After 1881 the drives diminished considerably.
    The range was fenced in the Cherokee Strip after 1884.    An 1885 Kansas quarantine law against the Texas tick fever prohibited the entry of Texas bovines, and in 1887 a blizzard destroyed most of the range cattle industry.    The Land Run of 1889 into the Unassigned Lands opened central Oklahoma to settlement, and peopled the plains with farmers, who built fences and towns.    These factors ended the trail-drive era.
    An estimated six million cattle had traveled the Chisholm Trail during its life, giving rise to many cowboy legends that have survived to this day.
    From 1990 through 1997 Robert Klemme of Enid, Oklahoma, researched the route of the Chisholm Trail through Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas and planned to place four hundred concrete markers along the route across Oklahoma.    The four hundredth marker was placed on Wilshire Road near Yukon in September 1997.
    Klemme erected other markers in Brownsville, Texas, and Abilene, Kansas.    At the end of the twentieth century the Chisholm Trail remained visible at many places, including a spot near Bison, in Garfield County, 1.5 miles south of U.S. 81 and one-third mile west on a county road.


Henry Sinclair Drago, Great American Cattle Trails: The Story of the Old Cow Paths of the East and the Longhorn Highways of the Plains ( New York: Bramhall House, 1965).

Wayne Gard, The Chisholm Trail (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988).

Stan Hoig, Jesse Chisholm: Ambassador of the Plains (Boulder: University of Colorado Press, 1991).

Joseph G. McCoy, Cattle Trade of the West and Southwest (Kansas City, Mo.: Ramsey, Millet & Hudson, 1874; reprint, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilm, Inc., 1966).

Jimmy M. Skaggs, ed., Ranch and Range in Oklahoma (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Historical Society, 1978).

Ellie Sutter, "Signs Mark Trail of 6 Million Cattle," Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, 20 September 1997).

Stanley Vestal, Queen of Cowtowns, Dodge City: The Wickedest Little City in America, 1872-1886 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1952).

                                                                                                                       Steven D. Dortch

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