Kansas celebrates 150 years of the Chisholm Trail

Chisholm Trail

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas residents are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Chisholm Trail, which served as a cattle pipeline from ranches in Texas to railroads in Kansas.

A herd of longhorn cows with 15 cowboys, five chuck wagons and 40 helpers have driven along a portion of the trail this week. They made appearances near Wellington, Mayfield, Clearwater and at the future site of the Union Stockyards in south Wichita.

The cattle drive began last week in Oklahoma and is ending Saturday 90 miles north to Sedgwick County, the Wichita Eagle reported.

The event is organized by the O-K Chisholm Trail Cattle Drovers Association. It’s meant to echo cattle drives from 150 years ago, where herds were driven up the trail from Texas to Kansas. The trail is named after Jesse Chisholm, who had a trading post in Wichita and often traded with Native American tribes in the region.

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The trail was considered an economic lifeline for Kansas because it helped promote the railroad and made ranching profitable. More than 230,000 head of cattle were shipped out in Wichita alone from 1872 to 1876.

Historians compare the Chisholm, which was a north-south trail, to byways such as the Oregon and Santa Fe trails, which ran east-west.

“I’m doing this cattle drive because I grew up in this horse culture,” said Sam Wylie, who is experiencing his first cattle drive. He said that cattle are driven about four to five hours each day.

“It was hard to do it as authentically and logistically as possible,” Wylie said. “We had to have pasture for both cattle and horses and move materials. It takes a while to bust camp and set up again with all the equipment it takes.”

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com