Chisholm Trail 150th Anniversary

Explore the rich Texas history of ranch hands, cowboys and cattle as we celebrate the Chisholm Trail's 150th Anniversary.

Following the Civil War, Texas experienced a boom in its famous cattle industry. More than five million cattle, including famed Texas longhorns, made their way from Texas to Kansas City along the historic Chisholm Trail, making it the greatest migration of livestock in world history.

Named after Jesse Chisholm, a Tennessee trader, the Chisholm Trail was a three-to-four month journey through rivers, canyons, badlands and other hostile environments. At one of the most treacherous yet necessary crossing points on the Brazos River, a suspension bridge was built to enable safe passage for the cowboys and their cattle. That bridge, designed by the same company that built the Brooklyn Bridge, can still be seen – and crossed – in Waco.

For 20 years, cowboys - and cowgirls - along with the cattle industry thrived because of the Chisholm Trail. As the railroad industry grew, making it easier to transport cattle by train, the need for cattle driving quickly declined. Subsequently, so did the Chisholm Trail and by the late 1880's, the trail had finally reached its end. However, the impact it had on the state of Texas lives on.

The Chisholm Trail was instrumental in cementing Texas's place as part of the United States, along with furthering the expansion and economic development of the Midwestern US. While the trail and the days of cattle drives faded out with the invention of the railroad, the cowboys' legacy and the image of Texas as a destination for the strong-willed has stood the test of time.

When you visit Texas, you can explore more than 70 historic sites along the Chisholm Trail. Each provides a first hand look at the hardship, adventure and economy that made up the Texas cowboy and cattle idustry. You can also discover the trail's lasting appeal on Hollywood and the silver screen, appearing in such classic films as The Texans, The Old Chisholm Trail and the John Wayne classic, Red River.

Take a ride through history with The Chisholm Trail: Exploring the Folklore and Legacy, The mobile tour is available for free as a web app at or downloadable to your iOS or Android device.

As we say in Texas, "Happy Trails."


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