The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957 Page: 55
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Retracing the Chisholm Trail
of them. The one means available was to walk the cattle to dis-
tant cities or railroad shipping points. This method called for
time, patience, and courage; but it took little cash outlay, since
the cattle could sustain themselves on the grass along the trail.
The tough Longhorns, descended mainly from Spanish cattle
brought over by the conquistadors but with some blood from
British breeds, were well adapted to the hardships of the long
tramp. "As trail cattle," said Charles Goodnight, "their equal
never has been known. Their hoofs are superior to those of any
other cattle. They can go farther without water and endure more
suffering than others."
These cattle were in strong demand in the North, not only
for stocking new ranges but for increasing the beef supply. A
Longhorn steer worth only six or eight dollars in Texas might
bring twenty dollars or more in Kansas. Butchers might discount
the beef as less tender than that from the Midwest farmer's
barnyard, but many thrifty housewives viewed it as a bargain.
Too, a few months of feeding on corn helped the quality of the
Texas product that came up the trail.
Some of the confusion over the Chisholm Trail arises from
mistaking for it one or the other of the trails on its flanks. Some
comes from the nature of the trail. It did not follow an exact
route, year after year; nor was it a line from a single starting
point to a single destination. It might be compared to a tree
with many roots and several large branches. The roots were
feeder trails coming in from every part of Texas that raised beef
cattle in the trail period. The trunk was the route through North
Texas and the Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. The branches
were the extensions to various railroad towns in Kansas in which
the cattle were sold and shipped.
As T. C. Richardson of Dallas has pointed out, "We shall get
rid of a good deal of geographical difficulty at once by recalling
that the trails originated wherever a herd was shaped up and
ended wherever a market was found. A thousand minor trails fed
the main routes, and many an old-timer who as a boy saw a herd
of stately Longhorns, piloted by bandanaed, booted, and spurred
men, lived with the firm conviction that the Dodge or Chisholm
Trail passed right over yonder."
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957, periodical, 1957; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101163/m1/68/: accessed March 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.