The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957 Page: 65
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Retracing the Chisholm Trail
quarantine law, this new one began to boom. It offered not only
shipping facilities but the kind of entertainment that quickly
gave it the name of Gomorrah of the Plains.
As in the case of Abilene in 1867, the new market meant a
new trail. While many drovers continued to go up the Chisholm
Trail to the Cimarron and then cut across northwest to Dodge
City, others followed a more direct route. Leaving the Chisholm
Trail at Belton, they followed the Leon River upstream to the
northwest, then pointed north to Fort Griffin, outfitting point
and hide market for most of the Texas buffalo hunters. Heading
on north, they crossed the Red River by a ford beside which
Jonathan Doan had built a picket house with a roof of mud and
grass and a buffalo hide flapping in the doorway. From there
they pointed almost straight north through the Indian country
to Dodge City.
Thus the Chisholm Trail, which only a few years earlier had
become free of the rivalry of the Shawnee Trail to its east, now
had competition from the new Western Trail on the other side.
Fort Worth, which had most to lose from this shift, gave it scant
attention at first. But Fort Griffin merchants were making the
most of their new opportunity. "Cattle from the south are coming
in rapidly," wrote a correspondent there on April 22, 1876. "It
is estimated that 125,ooo head will be on this trail this season."
Many have asked why the Texas cowmen continued to trail
their cattle after railroads were available for hauling them. Be-
ginning with the season of 1873, cattle could be shipped north
from Dallas or Denison or east from Dallas. Beginning early in
July, 1876, they could be shipped from Fort Worth.
Some cattle did go by rail from all three towns. Fort Worth
shipped 51,923 head in 1877, the first full year that it had a rail-
road. But the rail shipments were only a small fraction of the
trail herds. The railroads did not have enough stock cars to
carry them all. Too, rough roadbeds, protruding horns, and
inexpert handling often led to injury of the cattle.
The major factor, though, was that of cost. Walking the cattle
north was much cheaper than shipping them by rail. A Texas
stockman with a herd of two thousand cattle had to pay $1o,ooo
to ship them to St. Louis by the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas, or
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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/m1/78/: accessed October 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.