Know Your History
The cattle that were driven up the
trail served several purposes, and
not all purposes were benevolent.
They meant profit and opportunity,
but also geared up the movement
to rid the West of the buffalo and
therefore drive the Indian to
extinction.
End of the Trail marker in Abilene, Kansas
Retracing the Trail
The Chisholm Trail can be retraced on US Highway 81. The original trail runs a mile or five west of the
road, and large swaths of land, cut by the hooves of the longhorn, can still be seen in several parts of
Oklahoma. We'll start in Fort Worth, where the feeder trails merged to form one big push into Indian
Territory.

Texas Sites
FORT WORTH: Fort Worth is truly a showplace for southwestern culture, and it still proudly holds onto its
cow town reputation. The Stockyards, north of downtown, holds daily cattle drives complete with official
longhorns and cowboys. The
Stockyards, however, are now a remnant of a later past, built around the
Armour and Swift processing plants. The holding pens, some converted into shops, are still in good
condition; the excursion train Tarantula takes tourists to Grapevine for a stroll; and a cool mueum is
housed in the Exchange Building. The area is pretty touristy, and many foreign visitors come to get an
authentic feel for the Wild West.  In downtown, make sure to visit Sundance Square, with its grand mural
of the Chisholm Trail.  -For more information, visit
fortworth.com or call the Convention and Visitor's
Bureau at 800-433-5747.

DECATUR: A charming city where patron and rancher Waggoner left his
indelible mark. The Baptist College building is now the Wise County
Heritage Museum. A very interesting Tourist Camp dating from the 1920s
lies on Business 81 and is believed to have once housed
Bonnie and Clyde.
Call the Chamber of Commerce at 940-627-3107 or visit
decaturtx.org for more information.

RED RIVER STATION: This is where the cattle crossed the Red River into
Indian Territory. There used to be saloons and a blacksmith shop - now
there's nothing save for a historical marker. The crossing is located on
private land, but is accessible from Red River Station Road off of FM
2849. The river isn't visible from the site anymore, thanks to shifting
sandbanks - but when it was there, thousands of cattle crossed at one
time, allowing a (fearless) cowboy to walk on the backs of the cattle and
never get his feet wet.

SPANISH FORT: On FM 103, north of US 82. A few miles to the east from Red River Station, Spanish Fort,
now a
ghost town, was once a bustling place where cowboys could rest up, buy supplies, and even have
their boots mended by H.J. Justin.

Oklahoma Sites
FLEETWOOD: About 5 miles down Main Street in Terral. This town was
established a few years after the first crossing, where a trading post
was set up. It was the first place of reference in Indian Territory
before the long, isolated walk ahead. The old store has been replaced
by a newer structure, which is now abandoned.

RYAN: Check out the mural on a downtown building. East of the town's
main intersection sits a quiet, roadside park, where cattle bedded
down near a stream.

WAURIKA: Right off US 81 and US 70 you'll find the Chisholm Trail Museum, an interpretive museum with
some original artifacts. It's opened only on weekends from 10 am- 4 pm, and is closed the first Sunday of
the month and on any holiday that falls on a weekend. Call the Chamber of Commerce at 580-228-2081 to
find out more.

ADDINGTON: On Eva Road (north of downtown, turn east), Monument
Hill beckons. As the largest hill for miles around, it served as a camp
site and look out for cowboys on the trail. The monument, carved from
beautiful red granite, tells the history of the trail on the four sides of its
base. The grave of trail driver Tom Latimore (died 1944) lies in the
southeast corner. Standing on this hill, overlooking the vast Plains on
all sides, one can truly visualize the immense undertaking of the
Chisholm Trail.

DUNCAN: This city is very proud of its Chisholm Trail heritage. In
April - May it hosts Chisholm Trail Days and Rodeo, and the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center (1000 N 29th
Street), a state-of-the-art interpretive center, is open daily. It is also home to the On the Chisholm Trail
Association and a world class statue by Paul Moore showing a cattle drive. Also visit Stephens County
Museum on US 81. Downtown commemorates several of its great citizens, including actor/ director Ron
Howard (Opie!) Contact the Duncan Convention and Tourism Bureau at 800-782-7167 or
duncanok.org.

EL RENO: On US 81 and historic US 66, northwest of Oklahoma City. Visit the Canadian County Museum in
the train depot. This is also close to the site where Jesse Chisholm is buried. His grave is located near
the northern county line by Greenfield and Geary (take I 40 west to US 270/281 north). His tombstone
reads, "No one left his home cold or hungry." The Chamber of Commerce can tell you more. Call
405-262-1188.

KINGFISHER: This town is very proud of its Chisholm Trail heritage. The Chisholm Trail Museum is located
directly on the trail and displays many everyday cowboy artifacts. Visit the open-air museum, a tribute to
homesteading, and also see the Seay Mansion, home of the 2nd territorial governor. Call Chamber of
Commerce at 405-375-4445.

ENID: Enid was voted one of the best cities in America to live. It definitely is one of Oklahoma's most
history-minded towns. The Humphrey Heritage Village depicts life during the land rush. In nearby Aline
(US 60/412 west to OK 8/58 south) the only sod house left in the Southwest is on display. The Cherokee
Strip Museum focuses on the land rush. The Chamber of Commerce can direct you at either
enidchamber.com or 580-237-2494.

Kansas Sites
CALDWELL: You'll see silouhettes of cowboys and longhorn as soon
as you enter into Kansas - check them out as you read the historical
marker. This small town was called the "Border Queen" and was the
first piece of American civilization that the cowboys encountered
in the early years. Later, Caldwell was a rail stop. The city hosts a
Chisholm Trail Festival in early May. Call the Chamber of Commerce
at (620) 845-6666 or visit
caldwellkansas.com.

WICHITA: Apart from Fort Worth, Wichita's the biggest city on the trail
and has tons to offer for its visitors. The city has collected its Chisholm Trail memories in the Old
Cowtown Museum, an open air museum depicting life during the cattle drives. Call the Tourist Bureau at
800-288-9424 or go to
visitwichita.com for more information.

ABILENE:  Abilene is the "final destination" for the cows on the Chisholm Trail. There's a Chisholm Trail
Festival and the Old Abilene Town and Museum, complete with entertaining gun fights. President
Eisenhower and his family are buried on the grounds of his house, which is open for tours. Call the
Visitor's Bureau at 800-569-5915 or go to
abileneks.com.
Suggested Reading
I waded through tons of reading
material to bring you the most
accurate information possible
about the Chisholm Trail. I found
discrepancies regarding the
actual time span of the Chisholm
Trail, the number of cattle that
crossed the Red River (anywhere
from 260,00 to one million have
been estimated), and the
authentic towns on the route.
Also, Texas claims to be part of
the Chisholm Trail, but no trail
was ever officially designated as
such by Joseph McCoy.

You'll notice that many of the
original sites are now only ghost
towns, and some don't even have
enough artifacts left to be called
ghost towns. A lot of the trail is
paved over, plowed over, planted
with trees - but in certain spots
the deep grooves left by the cattle
are still visible, and seeing them
can give chills to a history nut.  
Here are the books that I've read
and recommend:

The Chisholm Trail by Wayne
Gard.
This is the most
authoritative book about the trail,
with historical anecdotes and
written in a very easy style.

Jesse Chisholm: Trail Blazer, Sam
Houston's Trouble-Shooter Friend,
Kin to the Cherokee
by Ralph B.
Cushman. This biography focuses
on Chisholm's career as a
peacemaker between the
Comanche and the US.

Storm & Stampede on the
Chisholm Trail by Hubert E.
Collins; Warpath & Cattle Trail by
Hubert E. Collins, William W.
Savage, and James H. Lazalier

(newer edition of Storm &
Stampede). This book is a
collection of memories by the
author about ranching days in
Oklahoma.

Chisholm Trail and Other Routes
by T.U. Taylor
. Published in 1936,
this is one of the earliest accounts
of the trail.

The Chisholm Trail: High Road of
the Cattle Kingdom by Don
Worcester.
A good essay
published for the Fort Worth
Historical Society.

A Bride on the Old Chisholm Trail
in 1886 by Mary Taylor Bunton.

Memories of a Wild West pioneer,
published in 1939.
Retracing the Chisholm Trail
Enjoy trips from Texas to Kansas
by following the
Chisholm,
Shawnee, and Great Western
Trails in my  book,
Traveling
History Up the Cattle Trails!
Questions or comments? E-mail me:
robin@redriverhistorian.com
Take your horse, cattle, chuckwagon, biscuits, etc. and read about history of the Chisholm Trail!
Cowboys and a chuck wagon at Red River Station, 1874. UT Arlington Special Collections.
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