HISTORIC CATTLE TRAILS:
Shadows of an Unparalleled Pathway
October 28–November 3, 2012
Historian Guide: Neil Mangum
As the Civil War was drawing to a close, the Texas plains were swarming with longhorn cattle, for which there was no ready market. Herds were offered for sale on the range at one to two dollars per head without finding a buyer. So critical were the conditions that one cattleman remarked, "There dawned a time in Texas that a man’s poverty was estimated by the number of cattle he possessed."
The situation in the North was quite different, however. There a good animal would sell for as much as 10 times its value in Texas. With the high demand for beef in the Northeast and the railroad shipping centers in Kansas, cattlemen rounded up the longhorns, branded their hides, and drove them north. Oklahoma was crossed by the two major stock routes of the Old West, the Chisholm Trail and the Western Trail. Hundreds of yards wide and beaten into the bare earth, they reached over hills and valleys for 600 miles. The wealth of an empire passed over these trails, leaving its mark for decades to come and creating America's greatest folk hero, the cowboy.
In a period of history all too brief, 10 million longhorns literally were walked to market across Indian Territory. Historian Guide Neil Mangum will lead you along the trails and across the rivers that tell the story of a frontier that was wide open and free during the heyday of the Texas cattle drives.
Cost: $2,750 Single Occupancy, $2,275 Double Occupancy
Click to request a 2012 printed Travel Guide.
Sunday, October 28
Gather in Fort Worth for a briefing and welcome dinner hosted by Neil Mangum and HistoryAmerica TOURS.
Monday, October 29
We head northeast to pick up the Shawnee Trail, the earliest of the important cattle trails that connected Texas herds with shipping markets in Kansas. Continuing north we cross the Red River near the historic Colbert's ferry crossing. Following the route of the Butterfield Stage Road this afternoon, we will visit Moffett Park in Gainesville to discuss the mass hanging of Unionist supporters in October 1862. We cap the day with a visit to the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District where we can witness a herd of longhorns being driven down the street. Overnight again in Fort Worth.
Tuesday, October 30
We pick up the Chisholm Trail, stopping at historic Spanish Fort before reaching the Chisholm Trail crossing of the Red River at Red River Station. Then it's on to Monument Hill, one of the outstanding Trail landmarks. On the agenda this afternoon is a stop at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center. We journey east to view actual trail ruts before returning to the Heritage Center for a special evening dinner. Overnight in Duncan, Oklahoma.
Wednesday, October 31
Continuing north we follow the Chisholm Trail, passing near the 1858 battle of Rush Springs. After a visit to nearby Cowboy Springs in Yukon, we turn east to visit the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. The afternoon concludes with halts at the Chisholm Trail Museum in Kingfisher, and a visit to the historic crossing of the Cimarron River near Dover. Overnight in El Reno, Oklahoma.
Thursday, November 1
The day begins with a visit to the lonely gravesite of Chisholm Trail's namesake, Jesse Chisholm. Pushing west to intersect the Western Trail, we pause briefly in Clinton to take in another historic trail — Route 66. After lunch it's a stop at Hobart and the site of the Big Elk Creek crossing. We follow the Western Trail in the afternoon taking in the Museum of the Western Prairie in Altus and the important Red River crossing known as Doan's Crossing. The evening concludes with a chuck wagon dinner at the Red River Museum. Overnight in Vernon, Texas.
Friday, November 2
Proceeding south along the Western Trail this morning, we visit Fort Griffin, a bustling military installation and boomtown along the cattle trail. The state of Texas maintains a longhorn herd here. The afternoon highlight is a stop at Frontier Texas Museum in Abilene. We return to the Fort Worth hotel for our farewell dinner.
Saturday, November 3
Depart at your leisure following breakfast.