THE SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
VOL. LVI JANUARY, 1953 No. 3
Zhe Shawee rrail
OVERLOOKED by many historians of the Longhorn era,
the Shawnee Trail was the first of the three great cattle
trails from Texas to Kansas. From 1850 until the Chis-
holm Trail was opened in 1867, it was the chief route by which
Texas drovers took their cattle north, and it continued to carry
some of the plodding herds, in diminishing numbers, for at
least six more years. True, it never moved as many cattle as the
later Chisholm Trail or the still later Western Trail. Yet, in
its heyday, it was the biggest outlet that Texas had for its surplus
Trailing cattle to markets had been practiced since early times.
In America it was done in both the Spanish and the English
colonies. Under Spanish and Mexican rule, Texans had walked
some cattle into Louisiana, and they took more of them east in
the early years of the Republic. Trailing to the north began in
the early 1840's. The routes of the earliest herds are not known;
but, by 1850, when the volume of the northward drives began
to attract public notice, the dusty Shawnee Trail was the route
most commonly used. By that time, the gold rush was leading
some Texas cowmen to trail herds to California, yet most of them
sought northern markets.
Cattle drives from Texas to Missouri and other northern states
became larger in 1849 and 1850, especially in the latter year.
"Several droves of cattle have passed through this place en route
to Missouri," reported the Dallas Herald in June, 1850. "They
are brought mostly from the upper Brazos and are carried to
Missouri to be sold for beef or to furnish teams for California
'Quoted in the Texas State Gazette, July 6, 1850.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101145/. Accessed March 9, 2014.