The end of the trail is in sight for cowboys

Boys, it’s been a long hard trail, but payday is just over the hill.

The end of the trail is in sight! That must have caused many a cowboy to breathe a sigh of relief. After 100-plus days of the toughest kind of travel, they soon would find the finish line. 

That means that the boss would have made a good deal with a cattle buyer and soon the dust and heat of the trail, the constant being alert to danger, the day after day of eating biscuits, bacon, beef, and beans, and the boredom of companionship would soon turn to the good life of a bath and a shave, a store bought beefsteak dinner, a shot of whiskey or a lukewarm beer, and a whole different kind of companionship was waiting for you and your wages. But you had stood the test, faced the tough times, until now, you are at the finish line. 

Texas took a while to get the herd trail broke as you faced thunderstorms and swollen river crossings. Indian Territory brought more of the same along with the uncertainty of the actions from the Indian tribes. Kansas provided its own brand of danger with the lawless bands of redlegs and jayhawkers. But now the end is in sight and soon you will start the long trail home. 

What comes next? Years later, Bruce Kiskaddon summed it up when he wrote, “Though you’re not exactly blue, yet you just don’t feel like you do, in the winter or the long hot summer days. For your feelin’s and the weather seem to sort of go together, and you are quiet in the dreamy autumn haze. 

When the last big steer is goaded down the chute, and safely loaded; and the summer crew has ceased to hit the ball; when a fellow starts to draggin’ to the home ranch with the wagon—When they’ve finished shipping cattle in the fall.” My Ol’ Daddy would have said, “Kiskaddon was a classic cowboy poet and his classic poem says it all as we finish this drive!”

Trail drives were destined to change and evolve into better and more efficient ways to fill the growing demand for beef. As the railroads pushed farther west and population increased along older trails, new trails were forged. Then cattle drives found it harder and harder to find open trails as barbed wire was introduced and grew in popularity.

The practice of using barbed wire put a stop to cattle drives on open trails. And the east and northern appetite for beef changed from tough, stringy longhorn meat to the more palatable softer, more tender cuts from the mixed breeds. These changes effectively stopped the cattle drives and changed the beef industry. The dust, danger, sometimes chaotic yet romantic era of cowboy and cattle drives would end! 


Fightin’ the Chisholm Trail (Part four)

 Purty soon we’ll be in Kansas territory,

with Jayhawkers an’ wind.

But, we’ll shore meet ‘em with all our glory,

an’ we don’t plan to bend.


We’ll soon reach Abilene an’ the railhead,

at the end of the Chisholm Trail.

We’re all trail weary, ‘bout wore out its said,

feelin’ meaner than hell.


Our scout sez Abilene has rebuilt their pens,

they’re shore ready for our herd.

But it’ll be a few days ‘fore we get in,

‘cordin’ to the bosses word.


The days were shore ‘nuff tedious an’ mighty slow,

we was ‘bout tired out.

Hard on ponies too, they shore needed a blow,

a weary bunch no doubt.


Boss said the pens were just over the hill,

he’d ride in to see McCoy.

Warned us ‘bout Hickok.  That marshal, Wild Bill,

gave no slack to cowboys.


But the boys was ready for a drink an’ a bath

Or just seein’ them gals

All of that was at the end of their path

They’d try to best their pals


Abilene was the end of the Chisholm Trail.

we’ll  load them cattle here.

Even tho that wind is blowin’ a gale

Take the bell off that ol’ blue steer!


Wal, time for the wagon to head on home,

after we get our wages.

We survived the Chisholm Trail, now I ‘spect I’ll roam,

puncher’s curse through the ages!

© Ol’ Jim Cathey 


Thanks for riding along!

God bless each of you and God Bless America!














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