The era of the cattle drives


trailherdIn Texas, prior to the civil war, cattle ran free range.  During the war many of the ranchers headed out to fight, and then returned, after the war, to discover millions of wild longhorn cattle roaming the prairies, and desserts of Texas.

Needing a way to get these cattle to a rail head in Kansas, where they could be sold for a decent profit, ranchers with names like Goodnight, Loving,Ackly, and Chisum rounded up thousands of these wild beef at a time, branded them, and headed them north in a 900 mile drive.  The cattle trails stretched for a over 2 miles, and were managed by a crew of about 20 cowboys, a trail boss, a wrangler or two and the inevitable, cranky, and multi-talented cookie with the chuck wagon.

Painting at Fort Sissaton Cook Off
Painting at Fort Sissaton Cook Off

An estimated 25,000 to 35,000 men trailed six to ten million head of cattle and a million horses northward from Texas to Kansas during these years,

This amazing era of cowboy-dom, lasted about a meager 20 years, ending with the advent of fenced prairies and homesteaders, yet the legends and history of the trail drive years launched thousands of stories that capture our attention for all time

swimmingriver

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