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Chisholm Trail Cattle Drives

In 1867, cowboys began driving longhorn cattle along the Chisholm Trail; 150-year celebrations are underway in the state.
Chisholm Trail Cattle Drives

Chisholm Trail Cattle Drives

For more information visit these links:

Chisholm Trail 150

Chisholm Trail Heritage Center

Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center

Show Details

Show 1725: Chisholm Trail Cattle Drives
Air Date: June 18, 2017

 

Transcript

Rob McClendon: Well, it was 150 years ago in 1867, that cowboys began driving longhorn cattle from Texas, up through Indian Territory to a rail line in Kansas. The Chisholm Trail in many ways was our state’s first superhighway, connecting us economically with the rest of the nation.

The 1,000-mile historic Chisholm Trail, known as the world’s greatest cattle trail, was like a major highway in its time. The famed trail came just after the Civil War. During the war, Texas ranches were unmanaged, leaving the southern prairies packed with cattle. At the same time, markets to the east were in great need of beef as existing cattle had been slaughtered to feed the armies and civilians. By war’s end, cattle worth $3 a head in Texas would bring up to $40 to $60 in Chicago and New York. The problem was that no railroads yet reached the Texas plains. Running from the south Texas valley north to Abilene, Kansas, the Chisholm Trail was responsible for the movement of millions of longhorns. The four-month journey pushed cattle quickly from Texas into Indian Territory where the pace was slow to fatten the cattle on free grass and water, before again pushing north to the Kansas railheads. The trail, in segments, remained in continuous use until shortly before 1889 and the opening of the unassigned lands of Oklahoma. This brought fences – making the use of the trail impossible. Later the extension of the railroad, into Texas, eventually sealed the fate of the Chisholm Trail.

Rob: Several Chisholm Trail celebrations are underway in the state. The Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center in Enid has a new large-scale exhibit detailing the trail’s place in history, while the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan opens a new exhibit this month called “Technology of the West.” And if you would like to head out on the Chisholm Trail yourself, you can, just by following State Highway 81 up through the state.