Cattle Drives from South Texas
Texas Historical Marker

By 1840 tens of thousands of wild cattle roamed this vast south Texas region between the Rio Grande and the gulf of Mexico. The longhorns were almost worthless to Texans, so in 1842 extended cattle drives began with small herds driven to New Orleans and Missouri. Edward Piper, in 1846, drove 1,000 head to Ohio; by 1850 drives began to California; and in 1856 a herd was driven to Chicago. During the same period bovines were shipped by boat to New Orleans and Havana, Cuba, but with little or no profit. The number of cattle driven out of south Texas did not diminish the growing cattle population, as over 3. 5 million head were present in 1860.

Several thousand cattle were delivered to the confederacy during the early years of the civil war, but not until the conflict ended did cattle drives become profitable. Industrialization and urbanization of the northern U. S. created a huge market, and the westward expansion of railroads provided the means of transportation. In this vicinity several "feeder" trails led north to connect with the Chisholm and Dodge City trails to the Kansas railheads. By 1880, 4 million head had been driven to market, and Texas cattle had spread throughout the west.

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