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As the trail developed it became marked by numerous cutoffs and shortcuts from Missouri to Oregon.
The Oregon Trail's nominal termination point was Oregon City, at the time the proposed capital of the Oregon Territory.
COVERED WAGON, the means of transcontinental transportation used for two centuries of American history. Although derived from the Conestoga wagons built in Lancaster, Pa., in the early eighteenth century, the covered wagon used by emigrants on the Oregon and California trails differed in size, design, and purpose. The Santa Fe Trail (aka, Santa Fe Road) was an ancient passageway used regularly after 1821 by merchant-traders from Missouri who took manufactured goods to Santa Fe to exchange for furs and other items available there. For many years after the Santa Fe Trail was opened, Council Grove was the only trading post between Independence, Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Mountain Route (Long Route) of the Santa Fe Trail was the 230 miles of unprotected campsites between Fort Larned and Fort Lyon in Colorado. The Jornada Route was the water less (dry or desert route) stretch cutting southwest at Cimarron Crossing and other Arkansas River crossings.
1860s Santa Fe Trail was shortened at its eastern end, and with the coming of the Santa Fe Railroad, the trail was virtually deserted. 1866 The long wagon trains that previously formed at Council Grove now formed at Junction City and moved westward over the Smoky Hill route. Only those who have gathered figures on the industry can realize the immensity of the early freighting business across the plains.
Hand-in-hand with romance, for no more romantic phase of pioneer days was to be found than freighting, went sound business methods.
At one time, when the freighting business was as its height, there were more than 15,000 wagons, some 25,000 mules, 100,000 oxen and cattle and more than 15,000 men engaged in the business.
The great trails across the state were alive with long trains of dusty covered wagons loaded with shipments from the river towns of the far west.
The golden era of the freighter came in the 60s before the Union Pacific railroad was constructed. During 1865 old records indicate that 100,000,000 pounds of freight was moved westward that year. During those days the Overland trail was 200 feet wide and often the wagon trains would travel two abreast. The usual train consisted of 26 wagons, each carrying 7,000 pounds of freight, 4,000 in the wagon proper and 3,000 on a trailer.
The bullwhacker was in his glory when he mounted to his wagon seat, his 20-foot bullwhip in his hand, his gun by his side.
The wagon trains moved with military precision and were commanded by a wagon-master and assistant, who rode mules.
The greater portion of the Nebraska trade from the Missouri river west was with Denver and Colorado points after gold had been discovered near Pike's peak.
Canned goods, coffee, sugar, flour, chewing tobacco, cigars, salt, powder, soap, crackers, bacon and liquor formed the major part of the freighter's cargo. The usual price was $1 a 100 pounds for each 100 miles, or about $5 a 100 pounds between the Missouri river and Denver.
Nebraska City, where the well-known company of Russell, Waddell & Majors had headquarters, and Omaha, were the main starting points of the freight trains from the upper Missouri. At one time the military forces took virtual charge of the Nebraska trail and would not permit freighters to start unless they had at least 100 wagons or 60 men in the train. Romance and danger walked hand-in-hand with the freighter as he drove his 18 to 25 miles a day. At night he sat around campfires on the prairie, his wagons arranged in circle form, and swapped stories of other trips and other days. When that happened, and it was in any way possible, a dance was hastily arranged to give the drivers an opportunity to meet and dance with white women. By 1836, when the first migrant wagon train was organized in Independence, Missouri, a wagon train had been cleared to Fort Hall, Idaho. When the Civil War ended, the state's only potential assets were its countless longhorns, for which no market was available—Missouri and Kansas had closed their borders to Texas cattle in the 1850s because of the deadly Texas fever they carried. The herds followed the old Shawnee Trail by way of San Antonio, Austin, and Waco, where the trails split.
The cattle did not follow a clearly defined trail except at river crossings; when dozens of herds were moving north it was necessary to spread them out to find grass. After the Plains tribes were subdued and the buffalo decimated, ranches sprang up all over the Plains; most were stocked with Texas longhorns and manned by Texas cowboys.


The Chisholm Trail was finally closed by barbed wire and an 1885 Kansas quarantine law; by 1884, its last year, it was open only as far as Caldwell, in southern Kansas.
The story of the overland route from Texas, Blanco County by wagon to California told by T. We started the journey from Western Texas about the middle of May 1868, just a little while after the civil war. Just before we came to Tucson, Arizona we came across a family where the Indians had taken their horses and everything but the wagon.
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Fort Vancouver was the main re-supply point for nearly all Oregon trail travelers until U.S. Later, several feeder trails led across Kansas, and some towns became starting points, including Weston, Missouri, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Atchison, Kansas, St. However, many settlers branched off or stopped short of this goal and settled at convenient or promising locations along the trail. Independence was the farthest point westward on the Missouri River where steamboats or other cargo vessels could travel, due to the convergence of the Kansas River with the Missouri River approximately six miles west of town, near the current Kansas-Missouri border.
They became second only to Chicago's in size, and the city itself was identified with its famous Kansas City steak. Conestoga wagons were primarily designed to haul heavy goods for trade along the eastern coast, while smaller covered wagons were the vehicle of choice for emigrant groups headed to western destinations.
Emigrants usually took between four and six months to make the two-thousand-mile trek that lay between the Missouri and the Pacific Ocean. Mexican traders also provided caravans going to western Missouri in this international trade. Council Grove was the rendezvous of westward bound travelers and freighters and traders who were crossing the plains. Wagon caravans picked up goods at the railhead, decreasing the length of the trail as the railroad increased.
Some of the big fortunes of the west were founded on the ability of men to make a success of hauling freight across the plains.
Many a bullwhacker or muleskinner was killed and scalped in spite of every effort to make the trail safe. He consumed a month in going from Omaha to Denver and traveled no farther in a day than the motor truck will travel in an hour. Wagon trails were cleared further and further west, eventually reaching all the way to the Willamette Valley in Oregon.
The Chisholm Trail continued on to Fort Worth, then passed east of Decatur to the crossing at Red River Station.
The animals were allowed to graze along for ten or twelve miles a day and never pushed except to reach water; cattle that ate and drank their fill were unlikely to stampede. Raising cattle on open range and free grass attracted investments from the East and abroad in partnerships such as that of Charles Goodnight and Irish financier John Adair or in ranching syndicates such as the Scottish Prairie Land and Cattle Company and the Matador Land and Cattle Company.
In its brief existence it had been followed by more than five million cattle and a million mustangs, the greatest migration of livestock in world history. The women baked up a lot of bread, we had about a thousand pounds of bacon and everything else according.
Along here we ran out of anything to feed our horses so father bought flour, paying five dollars a sack, mixed it with water and fed the horses. Commerce with pioneers going further west helped establish these early settlements and launched local economies critical to their prosperity. After following the Santa Fe trail to near present day Topeka, Kansas they ferried across the Kansas River to start the trek across Kansas and points west. Independence immediately became a jumping-off point for the emerging fur trade, accommodating merchants and adventurers beginning the long trek westward on the Santa Fe Trail. In 1899 the American Hereford Association hosted a cattle judging contest in a tent in the stockyards. Whitman's station, flour can be bought at five dollars per hundred, corn meal at four dollars, beef at six and seven cents per pound, potatoes, fifty cents per bushel.
Although the threat of Indian attack was small, emigrants would often draw their wagons into a circle to serve as a corral for their animals and post sentinels to guard against livestock raids. The region from Council Grove to near Santa Fe was the most hazardous part of the trail, which was about eight hundred miles long when Westport or Independence, Missouri were the jumping-off-places. Although it was used only from 1867 to 1884, the longhorn cattle driven north along it provided a steady source of income that helped the impoverished state recover from the Civil War.


Richard King and Abel (Shanghai) Pierce delivered their own stock, but trailing contractors handled the vast majority of herds.
I built a house on my land and was married to Texanna Lester in the year 1870 in a little town called Julian City. It is proper to observe that the flour at Spalding's and Whitman's stations will be unbolted. Many were boat shaped with oarlocks so they might be floated over streams, the animals swimming across. Covered wagons remain in museums, including the Conestoga wagon original at Pittsburgh, Pa., and Ezra Meeker's prairie schooner at Tacoma, Wash.
Youthful trail hands on mustangs gave a Texas flavor to the entire range cattle industry of the Great Plains and made the cowboy an enduring folk hero. In the spring of 1867 he persuaded Kansas Pacific officials to lay a siding at the hamlet of Abilene, Kansas, on the edge of the quarantine area. After trailing techniques were perfected, a trail boss, ten cowboys, a cook, and a horse wrangler could trail 2,500 cattle three months for sixty to seventy-five cents a head. The XIT Ranch arose when the Texas legislature granted the Capitol Syndicate of Chicago three million acres for building a new Capitol. Just before we came to the Wells we came to a little valley where there was a lot of careless weed growing.
The Kansas City stockyards were destroyed in the Great Flood of 1951 and never fully recovered.
Emigrants however, should be cautious, and lay in a sufficient supply to last them through. He began building pens and loading facilities and sent word to Texas cowmen that a cattle market was available. It was, Wayne Gard observed, like a tree—the roots were the feeder trails from South Texas, the trunk was the main route from San Antonio across Indian Territory, and the branches were extensions to various railheads in Kansas. Littlepage's family of five, my brother-in-law, Cal Putman's family of three, my brother Martin Vanburin Casner and family of three, our family Martin Casner, wife and three children.
That year he shipped 35,000 head; the number doubled each year until 1871, when 600,000 head glutted the market. The tracks were made by Scot-Cherokee Jesse Chisholm, who in 1864 began hauling trade goods to Indian camps about 220 miles south of his post near modern Wichita. Between 1871, when Abilene ceased to be a cattle market, and 1884 the trail might end at Ellsworth, Junction City, Newton, Wichita, or Caldwell. We crossed the State Plains, came to the Pecos River at the Horse Head crossing but traveled about three hundred miles up the river, struck the New Mexico line, went through New Mexico near the White Mountains, along here we found a big saw mill, went on through Mexico until we came to the Rio Grande River. After two months my father, brother, and brother-in-law came back and we drove the cattle, only about one hundred sixty head left, to Warner ranch. At first the route was merely referred to as the Trail, the Kansas Trail, the Abilene Trail, or McCoy's Trail. Near here we came across a wagon train where the Indians had killed every one but two little children who had wandered away during the fight and some people found them on what was called the Salton Flats.
Though it was originally applied only to the trail north of the Red River, Texas cowmen soon gave Chisholm's name to the entire trail from the Rio Grande to central Kansas.
In 1884 Pryor Brothers contracted to deliver 45,000 head, sending them in fifteen separate herds for a net profit of $20,000. The second night of our journey nearly all our horses ran away and went back to the head of a stream called Conclro. The earliest known references to the Chisholm Trail in print were in the Kansas Daily Commonwealth of May 27 and October 11, 1870.
The country was full of Indians but I and another young fellow went back and got the horses. The people had been buried by the soldiers who were stationed along the route about every fifty miles.
When they heard shots they came as fast as they could but were often too late to do any good. Some of the boys with us shot a snake one day and here came the soldiers and gave them an awful calling down.



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