Chisholm Trail History

The solution was the Great American Cattle Trails.

Running from the South Texas Valley, north to Abilene, Kansas at first, the Chisholm Trail was responsible for the movement of millions of longhorns to the starving Northern and Eastern markets. The four-month journey pushed cattle quickly from Texas into Indian Territory, where the pace was slowed to fatten the cattle, before pushing again north to Kansas rail heads.

The trail and segments remained in continuous use until shortly before 1885, the opening of the Unassigned Lands in Oklahoma. The 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.

By 1867, there were millions of head of cattle roaming the Texas range and no economical way to get them to the eastern markets. Entrepreneur Joseph G McCoy came up with the idea of huilding stockyards along the Kansas Pacific Railroad somewhere in Kansas. After being turned down in three other towns, he convinced the business leaders in the small village of Abilene, Kansas that his idea had merit. The rest is history, history you can relieve as you visit the many sites along the Chisholm Trail.

Jesse Chisholm was the very embodiment of the collision of two great societies. Born in 1805, the son of a Scottish father and a Cherokee Indian mother, he established a trading post near present-day downtown Wichita. His ancestry enabled Chisholm to blaze the trail south to Mexico through Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). While Chisholm used the trail as a trade route, the existence of the "Chisholm Trail" opened the way to the railheads in Kansas, and in turn the eastern markets, for the great herds of Texas longhorns. Chisholm died in 1868 without ever knowing of the great cattle trail or his association with the route. He is buried in Oklahoma on a small knoll, a few miles north of Geary (see map). A stone marker on his grave reads, "No one left his home cold or hungry."