The West at the Turn of the Century Background[1]

The Old Chisholm Trail
The West at the Turn of the
Life After the Civil War
SS5H3 The student will describe how life changed in
America at the turn of the century.
a. Describe the role of the cattle trails in the late 19th
century; include the Black Cowboys of Texas, the Great
Western Cattle Trail, and the Chisholm Trail.
What’s Going On?!?!?
• After the Civil War, Texans were looking for
ways to make a living.
• In Texas there was little or no demand for the
abundant cattle abandoned after the war.
• Up North, however, demand for cattle
was very high.
– Therefore, a supply and demand
relationship developed.
Discovery Video
The Chisholm Trail
• In 1867, Joseph G McCoy established a cattleshipping terminal in Abilene, Kansas.
– He knew that $2.00 Longhorns in Texas were
worth almost 10 times as much in the North,
– He was the 1st to exploit the expanding
railroads to move the cattle to distant
* Did you know a dollar in 1860 was worth the
equivalent of around $26.00 in today’s economy?
So what does McCoy have to do with
the Chisholm Trail?
• In order to reach McCoy’s shipping yard
cattle drivers used Jesse Chisholm’s trail
which extended from Wichita, Kansas across
the Indian Territory (now known as
Oklahoma) to the Red River.
• Millions of Longhorn cattle travelled along
the Chisholm Trail in only a few short years
Major Cattle Trails and Railroads
Various Names for the Chisholm Trail
The Abilene Trail
The Cattle Trail
The Eastern Trail
The Great Texas Cattle Trail
The Kansas Trail
McCoy’s Trail
End of an Era for the Chisholm Trail
• By the late 1880’s, driving cattle north from
Texas was no longer profitable and declined
• Almost as quickly as the route to Abilene was
established, the era of open-range
cattle driving came to a close.
Oh, the Many Reasons
• Reliance on the Chisholm Trail began to decline
in the 1870’s for a number of reasons.
– The construction of new rail lines to Texas
– The development of barbed wire and the
establishment of homestead laws that closed off the
open range
– A public demand for better grades of beef
– An oversupply of Longhorns which overran the
– Texas fever quarantines in Kansas and
The Great Western Cattle Trail
• Another famous cattle trail used in the 1800’s
for movement of cattle to markets in the
• Ran west and roughly parallel to the
Chisholm Trail.
Cattle Trails and Railroads
Began at Bandera, Texas and ended in
Dodge City, Kansas
Also Known As:
• The Western Trail
• The Dodge City Trail
• The Old Texas Trail
Sweet Beginnings
• In 1874 Captain John T. Lytle and several
cowboys set out with 3,500 head of Longhorn
cattle to take advantage of the North’s desire
for beef.
• The trail they blazed would become
known as the Great Western Cattle
If This Trail Could Talk
• Over 7 million cattle and horses passed
through Texas and Oklahoma to the railheads
in Kansas and Nebraska.
• The Great Western Cattle Trail is responsible
for developing the cattle industry as far
north as Wyoming and Montana.
Life on the Trail
• A typical head would move 10-12 miles a day
and included the trail boss, a wrangler, and a
– The distance between Westside Elementary School
and Georgia Highlands College is 12.31 miles.
• The drive from South Texas to Kansas took about
2 months at a cost of $1000 in wages and
• At the end of the trail, cattle sold for $20.00 to
$35.00 per head.
Black Cowboys of Texas
• 1/3 of cowboys were either Mexican or
African American.
AfricanAmerican or
Discovery Video
The Life of a Cowboy
• Few cowboys lived up to the rough and
rowdy, drinking and brawling image.
popularized later in books, songs and movies.
– Had to be dependable under harsh conditions.
– Quick to act and knowledgeable about Longhorn
So You Think You Can Be a Cowboy,
• Many dangers faced cattle drivers and
– Stampedes
– Weather Thunderstorms, in particular, and
– Crossing rivers
– Prairie fires
– Predatory animals
Still Think You Have the Stomach for
Bread or biscuits, coffee
Chili or stew, bread, water or coffee
Steak with beans, potatoes with gravy,
biscuits, water or coffee

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