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The Old West - August 31, 2016

Q: The city of Abilene is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Chisholm Trail with a three-day festival called Trails, Rails & Tales that begins today. The Chisholm Trail was used by cowboys to drive cattle from Texas to Kansas. But how many cattle are we talking about? 


• Tens of thousands

• Hundreds of thousands, or…

• Millions?


A: Millions. And more precisely, about 5 million head of cattle were moved north from Texas and into Kansas along the Chisholm Trail.


It’s estimated that cowboys used the Chisholm Trail to drive as many as 5 million Texas Longhorn cattle from Texas to the rail-heads in Kansas. In Texas, the cattle were only worth about $5 a head. But back east, the animals could fetch around $40 a head. The problem was getting those cattle shipped back east. And that’s where Kansas comes in. 


In the mid- to late-1800s, cattle towns popped up in Kansas, complete with stockyards and railroads. Abilene was one of the first and more famous cowtowns in the Old West. And, for a while, Abilene was the end of the line for the Chisholm Trail. The trail itself was named for a half-Cherokee trader named Jesse Chisholm, who had established trading posts at the northern and southern ends of the trail. 


This weekend, Old Town Abilene is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Chisolm Trail with a three-day event called Trails, Rails & Tales. Learn more at http://chisholmtrail150.org/ and www.AbileneKansas.org.