The Cattle Drive Raghav and Sid

Welcome to the world of Cattle Drives. Today you will learn about the struggles and victories of underpayed cowhands, dangerous journeys, and the determination to survive of cattle and cowhands alike. Now hold on to your seat as we buck our way into an adventure in the heart of the Cattle Kingdom.

A cowhand and his trusty buckaroo

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.

Texas Cattle Drive

Although Cattle Drives in present day are not nearly as dangerous and difficult, it is still not a job for an ordinary person.

How the Drive came to be:

Current day cattle market

The Cattle Drive was persistent in the late 1800s. The Drive was due to the popularity boom of the cattle industry. It consisted of many trails that were used to transport large herds to markets, shipping points, and herding points. Soon, Cowboys were paid $25-$40 a month.

Cattle Branding: What is it?

Cattle Branding was and is used to identify the owner(s) of lifestock. Hot branding was a solution to the robbery of lifestock. Ear tagging was also another way to identify the owner of the cattle. This way the trail and identity of the robber could be found.

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

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.

Cow Towns

Cow towns were towns build along the cattle trails to offer rest to cowhands. These towns grew popular as cowhands needed a place to rest and wash up. The cattle drives themselves took about 2-3 months. These towns offered everything from salons to inns.

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

Chisholm Trail

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.

Route of the Chisholm Trail

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.

Great Western route
Big Elk Crossing

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.


Created with images by duggar11 - "Longhorn Cattle Drive - Duncan, Oklahoma" • Skitterphoto - "livestock cow cattle" • Bhakti2 - "cowboy horse pony" • dcysurfer / Dave Young - "lush paddock" • SebastianZiegler - "cow away nature" • juliamaudlin - "Cattle Lorry, Kerala, India" • Colin Remas Brown - "cattle-138" • Unsplash - "cow grass field" • John Loo - "Cattle" • kariimattila - "road cattle cows" • JD Hancock - "Orange Appeal" • edbo23 - "cow pretty farm" • ElisaRiva - "thieves theft robbery" • Julie-Kolibrie - "cow tyrol alm"

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.