The Chisholm Trail turns 150

Cattle Drive (Photo by Jack Dennis)

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The Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Fort Worth Stockyards will celebrate the Chisholm Trail’s 150th anniversary with several events throughout the city and the year. Wednesday, Visit Fort Worth unveiled the official logo of our city’s celebration.

“The Chisholm Trail was the major route out of Texas for livestock. Although it was used only from 1867 to 1884, the longhorn cattle driven north along it provided a steady source of income that helped the impoverished state recover from the Civil War. Youthful trail hands on mustangs gave a Texas flavor to the entire range cattle industry of the Great Plains and made the cowboy an enduring folk hero.” – Texas State Historical Association.

To commemorate the importance of it to Texas western heritage and the colorful history of Fort Worth, they will be hosting a parade in the Fort Worth Stockyards following the 4 pm cattle drive on May 13th, in conjunction with Frontier Forts Muster signifying the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the Chisholm Trail era.


1. What is a cattle drive?

It is the movement of cattle to from one location to another, generally for purpose of selling cattle and/or moving cattle to other pastures. The most famous large cattle drives were from Texas to Kansas after the Civil War.

2. What was the route of the Chisholm Trail?

The cattle taken along the Chisholm Trail came from South Texas toward San Antonio and straight north past Belton, Waco, and Fort Worth before crossing the Red River.

3. Who was Jesse Chisholm?

Chisholm (1805 – 1868) was an important trader and plainsman of Scottish and Cherokee background. He was fluent in 14 Native American languages, and was important in many treaties between Native American tribes and governments. His trading route was used by cattle drives and the Chisholm Trail name was taken on for the length of this cattle trail.

4. Who was Joseph McCoy?

Joseph McCoy (1837 – 1915), a cattle trader, was largely responsible for creating the Chisholm Trail. He convinced a railroad exte nsion to Abilene, Kansas where he developed cattle pins needed to put the cattle on rail cars. He then promoted the route taken by the trail drivers.

5. Why was it necessary to take the cattle to Kansas?

Millions of cattle running wild in Texas after the civil war were worth only $2 or a head or less in Texas but worth $15 to $25 a head if taken to a railhead in Kansas. The money from the sale of cattle in Kansas was responsible for bringing Texas out of economic depression after the Civil War.

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