What was the Cattle Drive in the first place? The Cattle Drive was mainly the process of taking/herding an X amount of cattle to another location for them to be traded and/or sold.
Although Cattle Drives in present day are not nearly as dangerous and difficult, it is still not a job for an ordinary person.
Open Ranges: The Fields of Freedom
The vast expanse of land through which the cowhands traveled with their cattle was called the Open Range. There were no fences or barricades to keep the cattle together. Many roadside shops were set up along the trails. The exceptionally cold winter of 1886-1887 caused the downfall of the Open Range industry.
Long Drives were the center of the Cattle Drive. The cowhands would follow the Transcontinental Railroad tracks to reach shipping points. Many cowhands would be seen riding along the train cars. Most long drives averaged 3,000 cattle. To herd the cattle, a crew of at least 10 Cowboys was required, with three horses each.
Vaqueros: The First Cowboys
When the Spanish arrived in present day Mexico in 1519, the discovery of an abundance cattle. The Spanish word "Vaquero" translates to cowboy. Vaqueros were the first cowhands. When the cattle boom in America happened, many vaqueros immigrated to America fo jobs in Oregan, Idaho, and Nevada.
The Most Famous Cattle Drives
One of the most famous Long Drive trails was the Chisholm Trail. The Trail stretched on for about 1,000 miles from Texas to Kansas. The trail was first marked by Jesse Chisholm in 1864, when he blazed the path for his wagons hauling supplies to his trading posts. Though Chisholm never drove cattle on the trail that was named for him, the Texas cattlemen discovered it when looking for a way to drive their cattle northward to the railhead of the Kansas Pacific Railway, where they were shipped eastward.
The Great Western Cattle Trail
It starts in Bandera Texas and ends in Dodge City, Kansas. Used to herd cattle to the Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana, and two provinces in Canada. The Great Western was known for being used to transport 2,500 to 3,000 heads of cattle at a time. The Big Elk Crossing, located at the beginning of the trail, is a horse-shoe shaped bend in the creek placed near the trail. The funeral saying and gravestone heading "Rest in Peace" or "R.I.P." originated there after a disastrous incident.
Challenges of the Drives
Cattle theft was a very serious matter to Cowboys during drives. Not only did stolen cattle mean loss of money, but also a loss of meats that come of the cow.
Diseases such as typhoid, tuberculosis, and pneumonia were very common during cattle drives.
In early cattle drives, nature itself was a challenge, rough terrain, merciless weather, and wild animals made cattle drives dangerous.