Texas Trail– 1866-1897
Historic Marker 23 miles southwest of Newcastle on U.S. Highway 450

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Following the Civil War, construction of the transcontinental Railroad opened the West, ensuring elimination of vast buffalo herds and forcing Native American Indians onto reservations where the military provided food.

Leggy Texas Longhorns were moved as far north as Canada to take advantage of open range grazing and lucrative government contracts. These routes became known collectively as the Texas Trail. One entered Wyoming near Cheyenne, headed north past Fort Laramie, Newcastle, Upton, into Moorcroft and then west to Powder River where it unraveled like a poor piece of rope. Cowhand Bob Fudge recalled a drive in northeast Wyoming. “We had been told that from the Cheyenne River to Powder River there was likely no water, which we surely found out.…The weather was hot and at the end of the second day the cattle commenced to grind their teeth in their suffering…their groans were enough to raise the hair on a wooden Indian.”

Drovers learned the best size herd to move a long distance was 2,500 head. The herd stretched out for a mile or more with cowboys placed along the edges depending on their skill. Experienced cowboys rode point to direct the herd. Others rode drag at the back, eating the dust of those ahead. The rest were spaced in between at flank and swing. Herds moved slowly to avoid stampede. Cattle could be moved 10-15 miles a day, 300-500 miles a month and could gain weight if skillfully managed. Cowboys were paid at the end of the ride and usually returned home with the wagon and horses. Some stayed behind and started ranches of their own. One cowboy, John B. Kendrick, came to Wyoming with a Texas herd, married the cattleman’s daughter, and eventually became Governor. Such is the stuff of legend.

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