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The Chisholm Trail was a trail used in the post-Civil War era to drive cattle overland from ranches in Texas to Kansas railheads. The trail was established by Black Beaver, a Lenape (Delaware) guide and rancher, and his friend Jesse Chisholm, a merchant. They collected and drove numerous cattle along the trail to Kansas, where they could be shipped East to achieve higher prices.

The southern terminus was Red River Station, a trading post near the Red River, along the northern border of Texas. The Northern terminus was a trading post near Kansas City, Kansas. Chisholm owned both these posts. In the years of the cattle drives, cowboys would drive large herds from ranches across Texas to the Red River Station, and then north to Kansas City.

Overview

Texas ranchers using the Chisholm Trail had their cowboys start cattle drives from either the Rio Grande area or San Antonio. They joined the Chisholm Trail at the Red River of the South, at the border between Texas and Oklahoma Territory. They continued north to the rail head of the Kansas Pacific Railway in Abilene, Kansas, where the cattle would be sold and shipped eastward. The trail is named for Jesse Chisholm, a multiracial trader from Tennessee of half Cherokee descent. Together with scout Black Bear, he developed the trail to transport his goods from one trading post to another. The two men were the first to drive cattle north along this route.[1]

Business aspects

By 1853, Texas cattle were being driven into Missouri. Local farmers began blocking the herds and turning them back because the Texas Longhorns carried ticks that caused diseases in other types of cattle. Violence, vigilante groups, and cattle rustling caused further problems for the drovers. By 1859, the driving of cattle was outlawed in many Missouri jurisdictions. By the end of the Civil War, most cattle were being moved up the western branch of trail, being gathered at Red River Station in Montague County, Texas.

In 1866, cattle in Texas were worth only $4 per head, compared to over $40 per head in the North and East. Lack of market access during the American Civil War had produced an overstock of cattle in Texas. In 1867, Joseph G. McCoy built stockyards in Abilene, Kansas. He encouraged Texas cattlemen to drive their herds to his stockyards. The stockyards shipped 35,000 head that year and became the largest stockyards west of Kansas City, Kansas.

That same year, O. W. Wheeler answered McCoy's call, and he along with partners used the Chisholm Trail to bring a herd of 2,400 steers from Texas to Abilene. This herd was the first of an estimated 5,000,000 head of Texas cattle to reach Kansas over the Chisholm Trail.[2][3]

The construction of the Union Pacific Railway through Nebraska eventually offered a cattle drive destination that was an attractive alternative to the Kansas Pacific Railroad. The Texas Trail emerged as an alternative to the Chisholm Trail. Between 1876 and 1884 some drives went along the Texas Trail instead of the Chisholm Trail.[4]

Route

The southern terminus was Red River Station, a trading post near the Red River, along the northern border of Texas. The Northern terminus was a trading post near Kansas City, Kansas. Chisholm owned both these posts. In the years of the cattle drives, cowboys would drive large herds from ranches across Texas to the Red River Station, and then north to Kansas City.

Texas ranchers using the Chisholm Trail had their cowboys start cattle drives from either the Rio Grande area or San Antonio. They joined the Chisholm Trail at the Red River of the South, at the border between Texas and Oklahoma Territory. They continued north to the rail head of the Kansas Pacific Railway in Abilene, Kansas, where the cattle would be sold and shipped eastward. The trail is named for Jesse Chisholm, a multiracial trader from Tennessee of half Cherokee descent. Together with scout Black Bear, he developed the trail to transport his goods from one trading post to another. The two men were the first to drive cattle north along this route.[1]

Business aspects

By 1853, Texas cattle were being driven into Missouri. Local farmers began blocking the herds and turning them back because the Texas Longhorns carried ticks that caused diseases in other types of cattle. Violence, vigilante groups, and cattle rustling caused further problems for the drovers. By 1859, the driving of cattle was outlawed in many Missouri jurisdictions. By the end of the Civil War, most cattle were being moved up the western branch of trail, being gathered at Red River Station in Montague County, Texas.

In 1866, cattle in Texas were worth only $4 per head, compared to over $40 per head in the North and East. Lack of market access during the American Civil War had produced an overstock of cattle in Texas. In 1867, Joseph G. McCoy built stockyards in Abilene, Kansas. He encouraged Texas cattlemen to drive their herds to his stockyards. The stockyards shipped 35,000 head that year and became the largest stockyards west of Kansas City, Kansas.

That same year, O. W. Wheeler answered McCoy's call, and he along with partners used the Chisholm Trail to bring a herd of 2,400 steers from Texas to Abilene. This herd was the first of an estimated 5,000,000 head of Texas

By 1853, Texas cattle were being driven into Missouri. Local farmers began blocking the herds and turning them back because the Texas Longhorns carried ticks that caused diseases in other types of cattle. Violence, vigilante groups, and cattle rustling caused further problems for the drovers. By 1859, the driving of cattle was outlawed in many Missouri jurisdictions. By the end of the Civil War, most cattle were being moved up the western branch of trail, being gathered at Red River Station in Montague County, Texas.

In 1866, cattle in Texas were worth only $4 per head, compared to over $40 per head in the North and East. Lack of market access during the American Civil War had produced an overs

In 1866, cattle in Texas were worth only $4 per head, compared to over $40 per head in the North and East. Lack of market access during the American Civil War had produced an overstock of cattle in Texas. In 1867, Joseph G. McCoy built stockyards in Abilene, Kansas. He encouraged Texas cattlemen to drive their herds to his stockyards. The stockyards shipped 35,000 head that year and became the largest stockyards west of Kansas City, Kansas.

That same year, O. W. Wheeler answered McCoy's call, and he along with partners used the Chisholm Trail to bring a herd of 2,400 steers from Texas to Abilene. This herd was the first of an estimated 5,000,000 head of Texas cattle to reach Kansas over the Chisholm Trail.[2][3]

The construction of the Union Pacific Railway through Nebraska eventually offered a cattle drive destination that was an attractive alternative to the Kansas Pacific Railroad. The Texas Trail emerged as an alternative to the Chisholm Trail. Between 1876 and 1884 some drives went along the Texas Trail instead of the Chisholm Trail.[4]

In Texas, hundreds of feeder trails headed north to one of the main cattle trails. In the early 1840s, most cattle were driven up the Shawnee Trail. The Chisholm Trail was previously used by Indian hunting and raiding parties; the trail crossed into Indian Territory (present-day west-central Oklahoma) near Red River Station (in present-day Montague County, Texas) and entered Kansas near Caldwell. Through Oklahoma, the route of US Highway 81 follows the Chisholm Trail through present-day towns of El Reno, Duncan, Chickasha, and Enid.[5]

Northern end of trail

From 1867 to 1871, the trail ended in Abilene, Kansas, but as railroads incrementally built southward, the end of the trail moved to other cities. The end of the trail moved to Newton, Kansas, and soon afterward to Wichita, Kansas. From 1883 to 1887, the end of the trail was Caldwell, Kansas.

Southern start of trail

Historians consider the Chisholm Trail to have started either at Donna, Texas or San Antonio, Texas.[citation needed] In 1931, George W. Saunders, then president of the Old Trail Drivers Association and an authority on Texas livestock history, wrote: "The famed Chisholm Trail, about which more has been written than any other Southwestern Trail, cannot be traced in Texas for the reason that it never existed in this State." Pioneer cattlemen knew that they would strike the Chisholm Trail at Red River Station, at the mouth of Salt Creek in Montague County, where they left Texas and crossed into the Newton, Kansas, and soon afterward to Wichita, Kansas. From 1883 to 1887, the end of the trail was Caldwell, Kansas.

Southern start of trail

Historians consider the Chisholm Trail to have started either at Donna, Texas or San Antonio, Texas.[citation needed] In 1931, George W. Saunders, then president of the Old Trail Drivers Association and an authority on Texas livestock history, wrote: "The famed Chisholm Trail, about which more has been written than any other Southwestern Trail, cannot be traced in Texas for the reason that it never existed in this State." Pioneer cattlemen knew that they would strike the Chisholm Trail at Red River Station, at the mouth of Salt Creek in Montague County, where they left Texas and crossed into the Indian Territory.

Challenges