Chisholm Trail 150th Anniversary
1867 - 2017
Click on the cattle towns below to
The first herd of Texas cattle arrived at the Great Western Stock Yards in Abilene, Kansas in August of 1867. Over the next several years millions of head of cattle were driven up the Chisholm Trail to be loaded onto railroad cars and shipped off to eastern markets.
The cattle trade helped feed a starving nation and boosted the economy in the aftermath of the Civil War. It also gave birth to cattle towns, the Old West and the legend of the American Cowboy. To commemorate the trail and it's important place in American history, an entire year of activities are planned - from San Antonio, Texas all the way up through Oklahoma to Abilene, Kansas.
The Chisholm Trail and Kansas
Kansas cattle towns owe their existence to the Chisholm Trail. The cattle trade along the trail (and the people & money it brought with it) allowed the cattle towns to spring up and encouraged settlement into the new state. There was sometimes fierce competition between towns to get the rail head built in one place or another.
Of course, along with the money came the cowboys (more properly called drovers, as "boy" was often taken as a derogatory term following the war) and their rowdy and lawless ways.
It wasn't uncommon for a town to segregate the cattlemen into an area away from the town proper to try and control some of the vices that came with the cattle trade. These districts featured saloons, brothels and hotels offering "rest and recreation" for the trail weary drover.
One example of this is the settlement of Delano which sprang up across the river from the new town of Wichita. Wichita required the cattle men to check their guns with the town marshal when they entered the town, effectively keeping them west of the river. Fines that were levied on the sins in Delano provided much-needed funds to help the city fathers build the new town.
After a few years, as settlers moved in and populations grew, town residents would often become weary of the lawlessness. After only one year, Newton supported Wichita in a bond effort to get a rail head in exchange for becoming the county seat of a new county created from the north part of Sedgwick County.
Eventually, increasing conflicts with settlers and homesteaders caused the cattle trade to move further west to Dodge City located on the Great Western Cattle Trail.
Click on the cattle towns on the map to see the events in each county
For more about the history of the Chisholm Trail check out Kansas Historical Society
For more about the history of Kansas Cattle Towns check out Kansas Cattle Towns Coalition
The Historic Chisholm Trail
Copyright 2017 - CT-150 Kansas Coalition
Historical information on cattletowns used with permission from Kansas Cattle Towns Coalition